This Week In History February 17th – 23 rd 2014


by Dianne Hermann

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill

Week of February 17-23, 2014

February 17

1801 – The House of Representatives breaks an Electoral College tie, after casting three-dozen ballots, choosing Thomas Jefferson for president over Aaron Burr. Each candidate received 73 votes, but electors fail to distinguish between the office of President and Vice President.


1905 – Frances Willard, educator, temperance reformer, and women’s suffragist, becomes the first woman honored in National Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. Willard died in 1898 at age 58.

1915 – Edward Stone, the first U.S. combatant to die in World War I, is mortally wounded.

1936 – The world’s first superhero, The Phantom, makes his first appearance in comics.

1943 – New York Yankee and future Baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio enlists into the U.S. army. After being hospitalized with stomach ulcers DiMaggio is released from the service in September of 1945. He returns to play for the New York Yankees in 1946.

1964 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules 1 man 1 vote in Westberry v Sanders after James Westberry files suit against Georgia Governor Carl Sanders over the unequal apportionment of congressional districts.

1995 – A Federal judge allows a lawsuit claiming U.S. tobacco makers knew nicotine was addictive and manipulated its levels to keep customers hooked.

2006 – Lindsey Jacobellis wins the Silver Medal in snowboarding after falling on her final jump at the Turin Winter Olympics.



February 18

1861 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis is inaugurated in Montgomery, Alabama.


1878 – Outlaw Jessie Evans murders John Tunstall, sparking the Lincoln County War in New Mexico between immigrant English and Irish ranchers and merchants. Tensions and murders raged until 1884. One of the combatants is Billy the Kid.

1885 – Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is published.

1929 – The first Academy Awards, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks, are announced. “Wings” is the winner for Best Picture.

1932 – Sonja Henie wins her 6th straight World Women’s figure skating title.


1944 – The Cincinnati Reds sign 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall as the youngest player in baseball history.

1977 – The Space Shuttle Enterprise, mounted above a modified Boeing 747, goes on its first test flight.

1978 – Fifteen competitors race in the first Ironman Triathlon (swim, bike ride, marathon) held in Kona, Hawaii. Gordon Haller is the winner, completing the race in 11 hours and 46 minutes.

1988 – Anthony M. Kennedy, sworn in as Supreme Court Justice.

2001 – FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested for spying for the Soviet Union. He is ultimately convicted and sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms in prison after a plea deal enables him to escape the death penalty.


February 19

1856 – Hamilton Smith of New London, Connecticut, patents the tintype camera. Smith is a scientist, photography, and astronomer.

1913 – The first prize is inserted into a Cracker Jack box. The snack’s creator Louis Rueckheim gives the treat to a salesman who exclaims, “That’s a Cracker Jack!” So Rueckheim, trademarked the words in 1896.

1942 – President FDR orders the detention and internment of all west coast Japanese-Americans during World War II. Twelve detention centers in California and one in Oregon house more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans. In December of 1944 FDR announces the end of the detentions and the internees return home. By then, they had lost their homes, businesses, and possessions. President Ronald Reagan signed into law The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing an apology and redress to the internees still living, although nearly half of those who had been imprisoned died before the bill was signed.


1945 – The U.S. 5th Fleet launches invasion of Iwo Jima against the Japanese when 30,000 U.S. Marines land on the island.

1984 – Twins Phil and Steve Mahre become the first brother combo to win Gold and Silver medals in the same event at the Sarajevo Olympics (Slalom skiing).


1987 – An anti-smoking ad by the American Cancer Society, featuring Yul Brynner, airs for the first time on TV. It is filmed two years before, just months before Brynner dies of lung cancer.


February 20

1792 – The U.S. postal service is created. Postage costs 6 cents to 12 cents depending on the distance.

1809 – The Supreme Court rules the federal government’s power is greater than any state.

1877 – The first cantilever bridge in the U.S. is completed in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and spans the Kentucky River. A cantilever bridge is a horizontal bridge supported on only one end.

1937 – The first combination automobile/airplane is tested in Santa Monica, California. Designed by aero-engineer Waldo Dean Waterman, it claimed a top air speed of 120 mph and highway speed of 70 mph.

1943 – Phil Wrigley (the chewing gum mogul) and Branch Rickey (who signed up baseball’s Jackie Robinson) charter the All-American Girls Softball League. The 1992 movie “A League of Their Own” starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis is a fictionalized account of the league’s history.

1962 – John Glenn, on board Friendship 7, is the first American to orbit the Earth. He served four terms as a U.S. Senator from Ohio before returning to space on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1988. Glenn is now 92 years old.

1971 – The National Emergency Center in Colorado erroneously orders all U.S. radio and TV stations to go off the air. The mistake isn’t resolved for 30 minutes.

1992 – Ross Perot announces on the Larry King Show that he’ll run for President. He received 18.9% of the popular vote but no Electoral College votes. Perot is now 83 years old.


2002 – Jim Shea, Jr. wins the gold medal in skeleton (sled) racing at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, making him the first third-generation Olympian. His father and grandfather both won medals in the 1964 and 1932 Olympics respectively.



February 21

1866 – Lucy B. Hobbs (Taylor) becomes the first woman in the U.S. to earn a DDS (dentist) degree.

1885 – The Washington Monument is dedicated in Washington, DC. Construction took place in two phases, 1848-1856 and 1876-1884. Lack of funds and the Civil War halted the building process. By the time construction resumed at the 150’ level the color within the marble and granite stone quarries had changed. That color change line is visible on the monument.

1918 – The last Carolina parakeet dies in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

1947 – The first instant developing camera is demonstrated in New York City by inventor Edwin H. Land. He is the founder of the Polaroid Corporation in 1937. Land died in 1991 at age 81.

1970 – The Jackson 5, featuring 11-year-old Michael Jackson, made their TV debut on “American Bandstand.” Michael died in 2009 at age 50.

1972 – Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to visit China.


1975 – John Mitchell, H. R. Haldeman & John D. Ehrlichman are sentenced to 2½-8 years for their roles in the Watergate Scandal.

1992 – Kristi Yamaguchi of the U.S. wins Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating at the Olympics in Albertville, France.



February 22

1784 – The first U.S. ship to trade with China, “Empress of China,” sets sails from New York.

1821 – Spain sells the east part of Florida to the United States for $5 million.

1889 – U.S. President Grover Cleveland signs the bill to admitting the Dakotas, Montana, and Washington state to the union.


1903 – Due to drought the U.S. side of Niagara Falls runs short of water.

1935 – Airplanes are no longer permitted to fly over the White House when a no-fly zone is created.

1959 – Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500 auto race in 3 hours and 41 minutes with an average speed of 135.521 MPH. His son, Richard Petty, has won the Daytona 500 seven times.

1980 – The U.S. Olympic ice hockey team upsets the USSR 4-3 in what instantly became know as the “Miracle on Ice.” The U.S. goes on to win the Olympic gold medal in Lake Placid.



February 23

1813 – The first U.S. raw cotton-to-cloth mill is founded in Waltham, Massachusetts.

1836 – The Alamo is besieged for 13 days by the Mexican army under General Santa Anna. By March 6th the entire garrison is killed. The Alamo is built as the chapel of the Mission San Antonio de Valero.

1861 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, DC to take office as seven states have already seceded from the Union since the election. Noted private detective Allen Pinkerton uncovers an assassination plot and escorts Lincoln to Washington.


1904 – The U.S. acquires control of the Panama Canal Zone for $10 million. President Jimmy Carter returns control of the Canal to Panama in 1999.

1945 – U.S. Marines raise the American flag on Iwo Jima. The famous photo becomes the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial erected at Arlington National Cemetery.

1954 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the site of the first mass inoculation against polio using the Salk vaccine.

1980 – American Eric Heiden wins all five speed skating gold medals at the Lake Placid Olympics.


1993 – Former child actor Gary Coleman wins a $1,280,000 lawsuit against parents for high fees they charged him. Coleman died in 2010 at age 42.

1995 – The Dow Jones closes above 4,000 for the first time (4,003.33).


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