This Week In History February 24 – March 2, 2014


by Dianne Hermann

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

Week of February 24-March 2, 2014

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.

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.

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.

February 25

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

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

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

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 February 2014, at age 91.


1982 – The final episode of “The Lawrence Welk Show” airs. Welk died in 1992 at age 89.

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.

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.

1916 – Mutual 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 twelve two-reel comedies for the Mutual Film Corporation.

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

1973 – Triple Crown winning horse Secretariat is 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 the 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.

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

February 27

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

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

1922 – The Supreme Court unanimously upholds the 19th amendment guaranteeing a woman’s right to vote.

1940 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14, 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.

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.

February 28

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

1940 – (Feb. 29) “Gone with the Wind,” wins 8 Oscars. Hattie McDaniel becomes the first black woman to win an Oscar.

1960 – (Feb. 29) The first Playboy Club, featuring Playboy bunnies, opens in Chicago.

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 90 years old.

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

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, including 33-year-old founder David Koresh, after the FBI launches an assault in the compound.


March 1

1642 – Georgeana, (York) Maine, becomes the first incorporated American city.

1692 – The “Salem witch hunt” begins when authorities interrogate Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and an Indian slave, Tituba, to determine if they practiced witchcraft. In all, more than 150 people are jailed and 14 men and 5 women are executed. Many of those in jail die while incarcerated.

1792 – The U.S. Presidential Succession Act is passed, establishing the first line of succession.

1845 – President Tyler signs a resolution annexing the Republic of Texas.

1872 – Yellowstone is established as the world’s first national park.

1912 – Captain Albert Berry performs the first parachute jump from an airplane. Berry jumps from a Benoist pusher-type airplane piloted by Tony Jannus after they take off from Kinloch Field in St. Louis.


1932 – Charles Lindbergh, Jr. (20 months old) is kidnapped in New Jersey. The Lindbergh baby is found dead May 12.

1936 – The Hoover Dam is completed. Construction began in 1931. The concrete arch-gravity dam sits on the border of Arizona and Nevada.

1957 – Kokomo the Talking Chimp becomes the Today Show’s animal editor. The Chimpanzee, owned and trained by Nick Carrado, appears on a number of TV shows over four decades and retires from show biz in 1983. Kokomo has since died (date unknown).

1961 – President Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.

1967 – The House of Representatives excludes (refuses to allow to seat) Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. on a 307 to 116 vote for mismanaging his committee’s budget in previous Congress, excessive absenteeism, misuse of public funds. Powell died in 1972 at age 63.

2002 – The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Operation Anaconda, begins in eastern Afghanistan.

March 2

1867 – The U.S. Congress creates the Department of Education.

1877 – Rutherford B. Hayes (R) is declared president despite Samuel J. Tilden (D) winning the popular vote, but Tilden is 1 electoral vote short of victory. The other presidents who receive fewer popular votes but more electoral votes, thus becoming president, are John Quincy Adams (over Andrew Jackson), Benjamin Harrison (over Grover Cleveland), and George Bush (over Al Gore).

1923 – Time magazine debuts. Speaker of the House of Representatives Joseph G. Cannon is on the cover.

1939 – The Massachusetts Legislature votes to ratify the Bill of Rights – 147 years late.

1962 – Wilt Chamberlain, with the Philadelphia Warriors, scores incredible 100 points in a National Basketball Association game against the New York Nicks. The record still stands.

1976 – Walt Disney World logs its 50 millionth guest.

1977 – Bette Davis is the first woman to receive American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award.

1977 – Future Tonight Show host Jay Leno debuts with host Johnny Carson. Leno is the host of The Tonight Show from 1992 to 2014, with a brief ill-fated break in 2009 when Conan O’Brien takes over the microphone.



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