Feb 15th - Mar 11th 1999
Today in history

February 15, 1898 At least 250 military personnel were killed when the battleship USS Maine exploded while at anchor in Havana Harbor, Cuba. Although the cause of the explosion was never fully determined, the event contributed to the tensions leading to the Spanish-American War. More on the USS Maine

February 15, 1932 George Burns and Gracie Allen appeared for the first time as regulars on "The Guy Lombardo Show" on CBS Radio. They were so popular that they soon had their own show, "The Burns and Allen Show," which later moved to television. One of their classic gags was "Gracie's Missing Brother"  http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Hills/1836/missing_brother.html

February 15, 1965 Canada's Red Ensign flag was replaced by the red and white Maple Leaf flag still used today. The new design, which was chosen from entries gathered over two years, generated fierce debate and was opposed by conservatives. The Maple Leaf flag is simple and bold  http://www.southam.com/nmc/ohcanada/flag/flaghistory.html http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/3888/canflag.htm

February 16, 1868 A group of New York actors and entertainers called the "Jolly Corks" decided to broaden its charter, and the "Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks" was created, serving those in need. The Elks have a long history of generous service  http://www.elks.org/about/briefhistory.cfm

February 16, 1953 A team of researchers in Sweden subjected graphite to high temperatures and a pressure of 83,000 atmospheres, using a thermite shell (barium peroxide & magnesium). Tiny diamonds were formed -- the first artificial diamonds ever created. The Swedish team did not announce the accomplishment until 1955  http://www.urbanlegends.com/science/diamonds_are_a_scientists_best_friend.html

February 16, 1959 After overthrowing the brutal dictator Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba. Castro had tried to have Batista's government declared illegal, but when that failed, he turned to guerrilla warfare.

February 17, 1776 The first of six volumes of Edward Gibbon's monumental work "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" was published. This work is widely acknowledged to be a masterpiece of great literary value, as well as an important historical text. Mark Zimmerman's excerpts and commentary http://www.his.com/~z/gibbon.html

February 17, 1869 Russian chemist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev completed the first version of his periodic table of the chemical elements, showing 63 elements. The chart grouped the elements into families based on properties and atomic weight. Today there are many different forms of the periodic table

February 17, 1933 Comic strip character Blondie Boopadoop got married to her steady boyfriend, Dagwood Bumstead. In those days, she was a "flapper" (a dancer) but she has since then settled down to a domestic life with Dagwood. The characters in Chic Young's comic strip have grown with the times  http://www.kingfeatures.com/comics/blondie/about.htm

February 18, 1930, 4PM Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh noticed a 17th magnitude object that shifted position in a pair of astronomical plates. It was the planet Pluto, an icy ball that is now known to have a smaller companion called Charon. Tombaugh, who died in 1997, discovered many more celestial objects  http://www.icstars.com/HTML/icstars/graphics/clyde.htm

February 18, 1939 The Golden Gate International Exposition opened on Treasure Island, an artificial island in San Francisco Bay. The 40-week event included "General Motors Vacationland" and introduced the "Pan American Airways Clipper Ship." The 1939 Exposition was illuminated by fabulous electric lighting  http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/ti-lights.html

February 18, 1977 The first space shuttle orbiter, the Enterprise, was flight tested in "captive mode," attached to the top of a 747 jumbo jet. The flight was the first of five captive flights before the orbiter was released to land on its own. It would have been the "Constitution," but Star Trek fans were vocal  http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/resources/orbiters/enterprise.html

February 19, 1847 A party of seven rescuers arrived at the site where surviving members of the ill-fated Donner party were camped in the snowbound mountains of California. During their ordeal almost half of the nearly ninety emigrants died. Read the journals of the Donner party and view maps of their journey  http://members.aol.com/DanMRosen/donner/

February 19, 1945 US Marines attacked the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima, beginning what would become one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Japanese forces had constructed extensive underground fortifications, which resisted bombing. A commemorative site by one of the participants http://home.earthlink.net/~navetsusa/history/iwojima.html

February 19, 1949 Ezra Pound received the first Bollingen Prize for poetry, for his collection "The Pisan Cantos." Pound had been involved in what some called fascist activities, but the award committee decided to overlook his political views. Ezra Pound was a pioneer of the modernist style  http://www.poets.org/lit/POET/epound.htm

February 20, 1792 The Postal Service Act was signed by President George Washington, establishing a permanent Postal Service with a detailed set of rules and procedures. A temporary Service had been in existence since 1775. The history of the US Postal Service  http://www.usps.gov/history/his1_5.htm

February 20, 1962 Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. During the 4-hour, 55-minute flight, he completed three orbits aboard "Friendship 7" at an altitude of 100-162 miles. More about John Glenn and the Friendship 7 mission  http://www.capstonestudio.com/mercury/

February 20, 1997 Passing by Jupiter's moon Europa, the Galileo spacecraft took pictures showing areas of broken and re-frozen ice, which could be evidence of liquid water beneath the surface. It is not yet known whether such an "ocean" exists. The latest information about Europa  http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/europa/fact.html

February 21, 1828 The first newspaper in a Native American language was the Cherokee Phoenix, published in English and in the "talking leaves" Cherokee alphabet. The alphabet, invented by the warrior Sequoyah, took 12 years to create. The Phoenix was published in the Cherokee capital, New Echota, Georgia  http://ngeorgia.com/history/alphabet.html

February 21, 1916 One of the longest battles of World War I began at Verdun, France. By the end of the siege, the following December, more than 300,000 men had died, and neither side had secured any lasting advantage. Three years later, an unexpected discovery  http://www.thehistorynet.com/MilitaryHistory/articles/10963_cover.htm

February 21, 1947 At a meeting of the Optical Society of America, photographer Edwin Land demonstrated a new invention. His camera could take a picture, develop it, and print it in about one minute. The Polaroid Land Camera became a huge success. The story of instant photography http://digitalimage.polaroid.com/studio/exhibit/50yrs/

February 22, 1819 Florida was ceded to the united States by Spain with the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty. Signed by John Quincy Adams and Spanish Minister to the US Don Luis de Onis, the agreement included a payment of five million dollars by the US. Florida's history before it became part of the United States  http://www.starbanner.com/History/Colonization.html

February 22, 1879 The "Great Five Cent Store" opened in Utica, New York. F. W. Woolworth's first store did not succeed, but his next effort in Lancaster, Pennsylvania grew to include more than 1,000 branches. Woolworth's lasted until 1997. New York's Woolworth Building was the company's headquarters for 84 years   http://users.commkey.net/daniel/wool.htm

February 22, 1995 After the world's first balloon flight across the Pacific Ocean, adventurer Steve Fossett touched down in Saskatchewan, Canada. The four day flight, which began in South Korea, set a new distance record for ballooning. Fossett wanted a distance record, but wasn't sure how far he would fly  http://www.balloonlife.com/publications/balloon_life/9504/fossett.htm

February 23, 1836 Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna began a military siege of the Alamo, a Spanish mission in San Antonio, Texas. Inside were more than 100 Texas Revolutionary defenders. Today the Alamo is a historic shrine. The story of the siege of the Alamo  http://www.thehistorynet.com/WildWest/articles/02962_text.htm

February 23, 1886 Eight months after graduating from Oberlin College, Charles Martin Hall discovered a way to refine aluminum metal from its oxide using electricity. Hall's discovery turned aluminum into a practical commercial metal. A professor at Oberlin describes Hall's electrolytic process  http://www.oberlin.edu/~chem/history/cmh/cmharticle.html

February 23, 1987 Astronomer Ian Shelton spotted a supernova (exploding star) in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy. The event, about 167,000 light years away, was the first supernova visible with the naked eye since 1604. A before and after view of the Large Magellanic Cloud http://www.chapman.edu/oca/benet/sn1987a.htm

February 24, 1582 Pope Gregory XIII issued a Papal Bull declaring the reform of the Julian calendar system. To bring the dates back in line with the seasons, and to begin the Gregorian calendar, the following October was to lose ten days. The Gregorian calendar is still in use today http://www.magnet.ch/serendipity/hermetic/cal_stud/cal_art.htm

February 24, 1803 In the case of Marbury vs. Madison, the US Supreme Court ruled that the final interpreter of constitutional issues is the Supreme Court. This ruling set an important precedent allowing judicial review of the constitutionality of laws. The case of Marbury vs. Madison http://www.jmu.edu/madison/marbury/background.htm

February 24, 1942 The first international radio broadcast was made by the Voice of America, to bring news and information to the people of all nations. Today the VOA broadcasts in 52 languages, including a TV channel beamed to China. Broadcasts are made on a tight schedule, around the clock http://www.voa.gov/tour/

February 25, 1863 The National Currency Act restricted the issue of money to authorized banks, which were required to use the word "National" in their names. The Act ended a chaotic time of unregulated currencies and rampant counterfeiting. The history of banking and its relations with government in the US  http://www.occ.treas.gov/exhibits/histor1.htm

February 25, 1925 A wild, remote part of southeastern Alaska was designated as the Glacier Bay National Monument. The area features glaciers, abundant wildlife, and spectacular scenery, and is only accessible by boat or plane. Glacier Bay now includes more than three million acres of national park  http://www.alaskaparks.com/glacierbay.html

February 25, 1972 The Soviet space probe Luna 20 parachuted into a snowstorm in the USSR, carrying samples collected on the moon's Sea of Fertility. While it was on the moon, the robot probe also took television pictures, including a picture of the Earth. More about the Luna 20 mission

February 26, 1815 With 1200 of his loyal men, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from exile on the island of Elba, off the coast of Italy. This was the start of the "100 days" of his re-conquest of France, which ended with his defeat at Waterloo. More about the life and times of Napoleon http://www.iselinge.nl/napoleon/

February 26, 1919 By an act of Congress, the Grand Canyon National Park was established. The 277 mile (446 km) long canyon is more than 5,000 feet (1524 meters) deep, and about six million years old. The only way to the bottom is to walk or ride a mule. Explore the Grand Canyon http://www.kaibab.org/

February 26, 1993 An explosion blasted a 200 foot (61 meter) crater in the parking garage of the 110-story World Trade Center in Manhattan. Six people died, and more than 1000 were injured in the terrorist attack by an Islamic extremist group. The FBI used fingerprint identification as important evidence

February 27, 1827 The open celebration of Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday") in New Orleans began when students paraded through the streets wearing masks and colorful costumes. Mardi Gras is a modern expression of ancient traditions that go back to Celtic times. The history of Mardi Gras

February 27, 1919 Adrian Boult conducted the first public performance of "The Planets" by Gustav Holst. The seven-part work includes all the planets except Pluto (which had not yet been discovered) and Earth. Holst called it "a series of mood pictures." "The Planets" was also seen as a progression of life

February 27, 1933 A fire destroyed the German Reichstag (parliament) building. The Nazis took advantage of the emergency to invoke an article of the Weimar Constitution, suspending civil liberties and effectively creating a police state. Elected state governments were replaced by appointed Nazis  http://www.weyrich.com/political_issues/reichstag_fire.html

February 28, 1827 The Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company was incorporated, the first railroad in America chartered to carry passengers and freight. Construction of track began the following July, and the first 13- mile (21 km) section was opened in 1830. The B&O Railroad Museum commemorates early railroad history  http://www.borail.org/

February 28, 1983 The last episode of M*A*S*H, one of the most popular TV shows of all time, aired on CBS. A record 125 million viewers watched as the beloved, dark comedy series about a military hospital camp in Korea came to a poignant end. A M*A*S*H site by a devoted fan  http://www.netlink.co.uk/users/mash/
Buged out to

February 28, 1993 Agents of The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) attempted to serve warrants on the Branch Davidians, a religious group in Waco, Texas. Gunfire erupted, resulting in several deaths on both sides and beginning a standoff that would last nearly two months. More about the Waco siege

March 1, 1692 Three women were arrested in Salem, Massachusetts on charges of witchcraft, marking the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials. During the next few months, more than 150 men and women were arrested, and nineteen people were hanged. Smallpox and hysteria were among the factors leading to the witch trials  http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/learn2.html

March 1, 1932 Some time during the evening, a kidnapper snatched the 20-month old son of Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow from their secluded retreat in central New Jersey. The event has been called "the crime of the century." The trial was a media circus of immense proportions http://www.lindberghtrial.com/

March 1, 1961 President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps, a volunteer organization enabling Americans to serve the peoples of all countries. More than 5000 people applied for the first entrance exams. It's called "The toughest job you'll ever love" http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/history/index.html

March 2, 1889 With the passage of the Indian Appropriations Bill by Congress, "Unassigned Lands" were placed in the public domain. After years of protest by Native American tribes, the way was open for settlers to move onto their lands. The "Oklahoma Land Rush" was one result of the bill  http://www.thehistorynet.com/WildWest/articles/1999/02992_text.htm

March 2, 1899 Mount Ranier National Park was signed into existence by President William McKinley. It is the fifth oldest National Park, with 240 miles (386 km) of trails around the glacier-covered 14,410 foot (4392 meter) peak. Mount Ranier is the tallest peak in the Cascade mountains of Washington  http://www.nps.gov/mora/

March 2, 1949 A Boeing B-50A named "Lucky Lady II" landed at Carswell Air Force Base in Texas after flying around the world nonstop. During the 94-hour flight, the plane was refueled in the air four times. The crew received several awards. The B-50 Superfortress was a four-engine long-haul bomber  http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~pettypi/elevon/baugher_us/b050-01.html

March 3, 1875 Composer George Bizet's last opera, "Carmen," premiered in Paris. The tragedy about the romances of a gypsy girl in Spain has become one of the most popular operas of all time. More on Bizet's Carmen http://www.msu.edu/user/colmeiro/bizet.html

March 3, 1879 Belva Lockwood became the first woman allowed to practice law before the US Supreme Court. Lockwood was also the first woman to run for president. She helped to open up the legal profession for women http://www.greatwomen.org/lckwd.htm

March 3, 1931 Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner" was officially adopted as the National Anthem of the United States. It has been called "the most difficult national anthem on Earth to sing." The story and text of "The Star-Spangled Banner"  http://www.icss.com/usflag/francis.scott.key.html

March 4, 1675 Self-taught English astronomer John Flamsteed was awarded the position of Astronomer Royal by King Charles II. The Royal Observatory at Greenwich was constructed for Flamsteed's work, but he had to supply his own instruments. Flamsteed created a monumental star atlas containing 3000 stars  http://www.lhl.lib.mo.us/pubserv/hos/stars/fla.htm

March 4, 1861 Faced with an unprecedented threat of civil war, Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office as president of the United States. Two weeks earlier Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated as president of the Confederacy. In Lincoln's inaugural address, he promised to uphold the Constitution  http://www.cc.columbia.edu/acis/bartleby/inaugural/pres31.html

March 4, 1979 During its closest approach to Jupiter, the Voyager 1 spacecraft sent back an image proving that the giant planet has a thin system of dust rings, making it the fourth known ringed planet (Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus are the others). The Voyager missions vastly increased our knowledge of Jupiter  http://www.hawastsoc.org/solar/eng/vgrjup.htm

March 5, 1770 A crowd of jeering Boston citizens faced a troop of British soldiers. The soldiers opened fire, and five people were killed. The incident, which became known as the "Boston Massacre," created strong anti- British sentiment. Accounts of the Boston Massacre  http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/D/1751-1775/bostonmassacre/anon.htm http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/D/1751-1775/bostonmassacre/prest.htm

March 5, 1946 During a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill spoke of an "iron curtain" that had fallen across Europe. He was referring to what he called the "Soviet sphere," and its threat to democracy. Churchill had been presented with an honorary degree at Westminster http://www.nationalcenter.org/ChurchillIronCurtain.html http://www.missourinet.com/wow/1946main.html

March 5, 1963 A private plane carrying country music performers Patsy Cline, "Cowboy" Copas, and "Hankshaw" Hawkins crashed near Camden, Tennessee. All were killed. The singers, returning from a benefit performance, had been delayed by bad weather. Patsy Cline still has many fans http://hipp.gator.net/scrapbook.html http://www.patsy.nu/   http://www.patsycline.com/

March 6, 1857 The Supreme Court ruled that slaves were not full citizens, and could not sue for their freedom. The controversial ruling was a serious blow to civil rights in the US, affecting nearly four million African- Americans. The Dred Scott decision brought the country closer to Civil War  http://www.nps.gov/jeff/ocv-dscottd.htm

March 6, 1930 The first individually packaged foods preserved by flash-freezing appeared on store shelves. Clarence Birdseye invented the process after seeing how quickly freshly caught fish froze when the weather was very cold and windy. Flash freezing preserves food's flavor and nutrition http://web.mit.edu/invent/www/inventorsA-H/birdseye.html http://www.birdseye.com/about.html

March 6, 1981 TV newscaster Walter Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News for the last time. An estimated seventeen million Americans bid him farewell as he closed the broadcast with his trademark phrase: "And that's the way it is." Cronkite has been called "the most trusted man in America" http://www.grandtimes.com/cronkite.html http://www.aog.usma.edu/AOG/AWARDS/TA/97Citation.htm

March 7, 161 Marcus Aurelius became Emperor of Rome upon the death of his predecessor, Antonius. He was a benevolent, wise ruler, and a noted Stoic philosopher. He wrote extensively about philosophy and spirituality. The writings of Marcus Aurelius are called his Meditations

March 7, 1906 Nearly universal suffrage was enacted in Finland, giving all citizens over 24 the right to vote, except those who were being supported by the State. Finland was the first country in Europe to give women voting rights, and the first country in the world to give women the full right to stand for elective office. Both New Zealand and Australia gave women the right to vote before Finland. Which vastly enlarged the electorate. Finland's government experienced major changes in 1906

March 7, 1939 Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians recorded "Auld Lang Syne" for Decca Records. The ever-popular song is now played simultaneously by bands in each time zone, every January first at 12:00:01 AM. Mr. Lombardo is no longer with us, but "Auld Lang Syne" is still a favorite http://members.aol.com/famemgt/fame/lombardo.htm

March 8, 1884 Susan B. Anthony appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, urging that the US Constitution be amended to grant women the right to vote. It was not until 1919, after Anthony's death, that the "Anthony Amendment" was passed. Susan Brownwell Anthony has been called "the champion of lost causes"  http://www.graceproducts.com/anthony/life.html

March 8, 1941 The National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) completed more than seven months of work to specify a workable television standard. The system they devised using 525 lines of picture information is still in use today. Worldwide, NTSC is one of the three analog TV standards http://www.cybercollege.com/tvp009.htm

March 8, 1979 The Voyager 1 spacecraft discovered active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon, Io. The volcanic activity is powered by tidal forces. As the moon flexes in Jupiter's huge gravity, its interior is stressed, heating it until it melts. Io is the most volcanic body in the solar system

March 9, 1862 During the United States Civil War, two ironclad warships, the "Monitor" and the "Virginia" (formerly the "Merrimack"), attacked each other for five hours in a channel near Chesapeake Bay. The result was a draw, but the battle changed naval combat forever. The encounter marked the end of the use of wooden warships

March 9, 1954 In a broadcast of his "See It Now" TV series, Edward R. Murrow reported on the controversial anti-communist activist, Joseph R. McCarthy. The report used mostly McCarthy's own words, and some believe it marked the beginning of McCarthy's downfall. More about Edward Murrow http://www.otr.com/murrow.html

March 9, 1990 Dr. Antonia Novello became the first female and hispanic Surgeon General of the United States. During her term, the former pediatrician was outspoken about issues of public health, including smoking, alcohol, and AIDS. Novello was especially concerned about smoking and drinking among young people

March 10, 1862 The United States government issued a series of paper bank notes, in denominations from $5 all the way up to $1000. The notes were a guarantee of payment by the government in gold or silver, and they are still good today. Collecting paper money can be an interesting hobby http://www.collectpapermoney.com/

March 10, 1876 With the words "Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you," Alexander Graham Bell brought the telephone into the world. Excited by his success, Bell predicted that one day telephones would allow friends to converse without leaving their homes. Bell recorded the successful test in his lab notebook  http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trr002.html

March 10, 1969 In Memphis, Tennessee, James Earl Ray pled guilty to charges that he assassinated civil rights champion Martin Luther King, Jr. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Although Ray later claimed he was innocent, he died in prison in April, 1998. Did Ray actually kill King? Questions still remain  http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/mlk320a.html

March 11, 1810 In a proxy marriage (the bride was not present), Napoleon Bonaparte married his second wife, 18-year-old Marie Louise, the daughter of Austria's Emperor Francis I. They had never met. A year later she gave birth to a son, Napoleon II. More about Marie Louise (click button for English version):  http://www.histofig.com/empire/personnes/autriche_marie-louise.html
Marie Louise was not particularly pleased with her new husband http://www.ddg.com/LIS/InfoDesignF97/aim/marielouise.html

March 11, 1941 President Roosevelt signed into law the Lend-Lease Act, giving him the authority to send ships and other aid to Britain in the war against Germany. The United States did not enter the war officially until the following December. In 1941, the Second World War overshadowed Roosevelt's "New Deal"  http://www.usis.usemb.se/usis/history/chapter10.htm

March 11, 1985 Following the death of Soviet President Konstantin Chernenko, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected as his successor. Gorbachev radically changed the course of Soviet history, introducing the ideas of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). Gorbachev was ousted in a coup in 1991  http://www.russiatoday.com/rtoday/bio/gorb.html
Today, he is president of an international environmental organization http://www.gci.ch/

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Updated Mar 9th 2001



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