This Week In History, February 22-28, 2016


This Week In History

by Dianne Hermann


“While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans,

I live for the future.”

– Ronald Reagan

Week of February 22-28, 2016





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.


1878 – Frank Winfield Woolworth obtains credit from his former boss, William Moore, along with some savings, to buy merchandise and open the “Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store” in Utica, New York, which fails in May of the same year.


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, Niagara Falls runs short of water.


1920 – The first artificial rabbit is used at a dog racetrack in Emeryville, California.


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 a photo finish 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. Watch a short Daytona history and part of the race:


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


1984 – The Census Bureau statistics show that the state of Alaska is the fastest growing state of the decade with an increase in population of 19.2 percent.


1995 – Steve Fossett completes the first air balloon flight over the Pacific Ocean. In 2002 Fossett is the first person to circumnavigate the Earth in a balloon. He disappears during an airplane flight in 2007. His remains are found in 2008. He was 63 years old.


2010 – A copy of “Action Comics #1” featuring the introduction of Superman sells at auction for $1 million.



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 in Texas.


1861 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, DC to take office because 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.


1896 – Tootsie Roll candy is introduced by Austrian immigrant Leo Hirshfield.


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.


1927 – President Coolidge creates the Federal Radio Commission (the predecessor to the FCC).


1945 – U.S. Marines raise the American flag on Iwo Jima. The famous photo becomes the model for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial erected at Arlington National Cemetery. Hershel “Woody” Williams, age 92, is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle for Iwo Jima. Watch an interview with Woody:


1954 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the site of the first mass inoculation against polio using the vaccine developed by Jonas Salk. Salk died in 1995 at age 80.


1968 – Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia 76ers) becomes the first player to score 25,000 career points in the National Basketball Association.


1971 – Lieutenant William Calley confesses to the My Lai massacre in Viet Nam in April 1969 and implicates his commander Captain Ernest Medina. Medina is acquitted and Calley is sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor. After numerous appeals Calley serves only 31/2 years of house arrest. Calley is now 72 years old.


1980 – American Eric Heiden wins all five speed skating gold medals at the Lake Placid Olympics. Heiden is now 57 years old. Watch Heiden win all 5 medals:


1993 – Former child actor Gary Coleman wins a $1,280,000 lawsuit against his parents for the 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).


1998 – The Supreme Court lets stand Megan’s Law. Megan’s Law (named for 7-year-old Megan Kanka who was raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender) allows the information on registered sex offenders to be made public.


2008 – A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit (Stealth Bomber) crashes at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. The crew survives but the aircraft is destroyed, making it the most expensive air crash in history (the aircraft alone cost $1.2 billion). The B-2 had a perfect safety record before the crash.



February 24


1803 – The Supreme Court makes its first ruling that a law is unconstitutional (Marbury v Madison). This decision makes the case for judicial review, cementing the Supreme Court as a separate but equal branch of government.


1868 – The first U.S. parade with floats, the Mardi Gras Parade, is held in Mobile, Alabama. Mobile is also the site of the oldest Mardi Gras celebration, dating back to 1703.


1868 – The House of Representatives votes 126 to 47 to impeach President Andrew Johnson. His impeachment trial begins on March 13, but Johnson’s opponents fail to get the needed two-thirds majority to convict him. Bill Clinton is impeached in 1998, but is also not removed from office. The first attempted presidential impeachment attempt is John Tyler in 1843, which fails.


1903 – The U.S. signs an agreement acquiring a naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


1938 – Du Pont begins commercial production of nylon toothbrush bristles.


1942 – The U.S. stops shipments of all 12-gauge shotguns for sporting use for the wartime effort.


1961 – NASA’s Explorer 10, a battery-operated spacecraft, fails to reach Earth orbit.


1981 – Jean Harris is convicted of murdering Scarsdale diet doctor Herman Tarnower. Harris serves 12 years of her 15-year sentence. She died in 2012 at age 89.


1983 – The Dow Jones closes above 1,100 for the first time (1,121.81).


1999 – The State of Arizona executes Karl LaGrand, a German national involved in an armed robbery, in spite of Germany’s legal action to save him.


2011 – The Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-133) is launched for the final time. The last Space Shuttle launch is the Atlantis (STS-135) in July 2011. Watch the launch including videos attached to the shuttle:



February 25


1751 – The first performing monkey is exhibited in America in New York City. Admission is 1 cent.


1793 – George Washington holds the first cabinet meeting at his home in Mt. Vernon, Virginia.


1836 – Samuel Colt patents the Colt Paterson, the first revolving barrel multi-shot firearm.


1837 – Thomas Davenport patents the first electric printing press in the U.S.


1862 – Congress forms the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Paper currency (greenbacks) is introduced by President Abraham Lincoln.


1870 – Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi is sworn in as the first black member of Congress.


1901 – The U.S. Steel Corporation is organized by J. P. Morgan.


1919 – Oregon is the first state to tax gasoline (1 cent per gallon).


1933 – The USS Ranger is christened as the first genuine aircraft carrier.


1950 – “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca premieres on NBC and airs until 1954. Writers include Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and Woody Allen. Coca dies in 2001 at age 92. Caesar died in 2014 at age 91. Watch a pantomime sketch with Sid and Imogene:


1964 – Cassius Clay, a 7-1 underdog, TKOs champion Sonny Liston in the 7th round to win the world heavyweight championship. It is Liston’s 2nd loss in 37 bouts. Liston died under suspicious circumstances in 1970 at age 38. Mohamed Ali (Clay) is now 74 years old. Watch interviews and part of the fight:


1987 – The U.S. Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in a 5-4 decision.


1989 – The Dallas Cowboys fire their original football coach Tom Landry after a 29-year career. He is replaced by coach Jimmy Johnson.


1991 – The U.S. barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia is hit by SCUD missile, killing 28.



February 26


1732 – The first Catholic mass celebrated in a church in the U.S. is in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia.


1891 – The first two buffalo are purchased for the Golden Gate Park. A bison cow and bull are transported to the park. A buffalo herd can still be seen in the park’s Buffalo Paddock. Watch a report about the buffalo at the park:


1907 – The members of Congress raise their own salaries to $7,500. Congressional salaries are currently $174,000 with a pay freeze for 2015.


1916 – Mutual Film signs Charlie Chaplin to a film contract. In the largest salary deal extended to a motion picture star to date, $670,000 for a single year’s work, Chaplin is to make 12 two-reel comedies for the Mutual Film Corporation.


1919 – Congress establishes the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.


1930 – The first red and green traffic lights in the U.S. are installed in Manhattan, New York.


1933 – The groundbreaking ceremony for the Golden Gate Bridge is held at Crissy Field. The bridge opens to pedestrian traffic on May 27, 1937, and vehicular traffic the next day.


1940 – The U.S. Air Defense Command established at Mitchell Field, Long Island New York.


1954 – Michigan representative Ruth Thompson (R) introduces legislation to ban the mailing “obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy” phonograph (rock & roll) records.


1973 – Triple Crown winning horse Secretariat’s breeding rights are purchased for a record $5.7 million.


1977 – The first flight of a Space Shuttle atop a specially modified Boeing 747 takes off headed for the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


1979 – The last total eclipse of the sun in 20th century visible in the continental U.S. is observed.


1983 – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album goes to #1 and stays #1 for 37 weeks. Watch the short version of the video:


1984 – Reverend Jesse Jackson, a Democrat presidential candidate, acknowledges after repeated denials that he called Jews “Hymies” and New York City “Hymietown” while at Washington National Airport a month earlier.


1993 – The New York City World Trade Center is bombed and 7 people die.


1998 – Oprah Winfrey wins a libel suit brought by Texas cattlemen in a trial over comments made by Winfrey about Mad Cow Disease on a 1996 show.


2009 – The Pentagon revereses its 18-year policy of not allowing the media to cover returning war dead. The reversal allows some media coverage with family approval.



February 27


1813 – Congress authorizes the use of steamboats to transport mail.


1872 – Charlotte Ray, the first black woman lawyer, graduates from Howard University.


1883 – Oscar Hammerstein (grandfather of composer Oscar Hammerstein II) patents the first cigar-rolling machine. He also opens several theaters and produces several operas. Hammerstein died in 1919 at age 73.


1901 – The National League Rules Committee decrees that all fouls in baseball are to count as strikes except after two strikes.


1922 – The Supreme Court unanimously upholds the 19th amendment guaranteeing a woman’s right to vote. The 19th Amendment is passed by Congress in June 1919 and ratified in August 1920.


1927 – Golfers in South Carolina are arrested for the second Sunday in a row for violating the Sabbath.


1940 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14, which is used to date ancient organic objects.


1951 – The 22nd amendment is ratified, limiting a president to two terms (8 years).


1974 – “People” magazine goes on sale. Actress Mia Farrow is on the first cover.


1982 – Earl Anthony becomes the first professional bowler to win more than $1 million. Anthony died in 2001 at age 63. Watch Anthony win the PBA National Championship (part 2 – frames 6-10):


1990 – Exxon Corporation and Exxon Shipping are indicted on 5 criminal counts following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.


1991 – The Gulf War ends after Iraqi troops retreat and Kuwait is re-taken by the U.S.


1992 – Tiger Woods, age 16, becomes the youngest PGA golfer in 35 years. Woods is now 40 years old. Watch Tiger at the 1992 PGA tournament, including interviews:



February 28


1794 – Swiss-born Abraham Gallatin’s election to the U.S. Senate is voided because he did not meet the citizenship requirement of 9 years. Gallatin is elected to the House of Representatives in 1795, where he becomes the House Majority Leader. He is also the founder of New York University.


1827 – The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) is chartered as the first commercial railroad in the U.S.


1883 – The first U.S. vaudeville theater opens in Boston.


1914 – Construction begins on Tower of Jewels in San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at the 1915 World’s Fair. The Tower is 435 feet tall and decorated with 102,000 glass jewels. The temporary building is demolished after the World’s Fair ends.


1933 – Francis Perkins becomes the first female in a president’s cabinet when she is appointed Secretary of Labor.


1953 – In a Cambridge University laboratory, American scientist James D. Watson and British scientist Francis H.C. Crick discover the double-helix structure of DNA. Crick died in 2004 at age 88. Watson is now 87 years old.


1961 – President John F. Kennedy names German-born Henry Kissinger as a special advisor. President Nixon names Kissinger his Secretary of State in 1973. Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger is now 92 years old.


1977 – The first killer whale is born in captivity at Marineland in Los Angeles, California.


1983 – The final episode of the TV show “M*A*S*H” airs on CBS with a record 125 million viewers. Watch the end of the final episode:


1993 – A gun battle erupts between the FBI and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. The standoff lasts 51 days. Seventy-six men, women, and children die after the FBI launches an assault in the compound, including 33-year-old founder David Koresh.


1997 – Smokers must prove they are over 18 to purchase cigarettes in the U.S.


1997 – Two heavily armed men wearing body armor are involved in the North Hollywood shootout after a failed Bank of America robbery attempt. The bank robbers fire over 1,100 rounds of ammunition before being killed by law enforcement officers. Eighteen officers and civilians are wounded. Watch news footage:


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