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This Day in History - February 2

February 2

962 – Otto I invades Italy and is crowned Holy Roman Emperor

1032 – Conrad II claims the throne of France

1494 – Columbus begins using Indians as slaves

1536 – The city of Buenos Aires, Argentina is founded by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza

1571 – Indians murder all eight members of a Jesuit mission in Virginia while pretending to be their friends

1626 – Charles I is crowned King of England

1653 – New Amsterdam becomes a city and will later be renamed, New York

1709 – Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration behind Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, was rescued after four years alone on an island off the coast of Chile

1754 – Minister of foreign affairs for Napoleon I, who represented France at the Congress of Vienna, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, is born

1781 – American General Nathanael Greene receives two bags of coin from Elizabeth Maxwell Steele at her tavern in Salisbury, North Carolina, after announcing he was hungry and penniless.  Alonzo Chappel will later paint the scene

1803 – Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston is born

1812 – Russians establish Fort Ross on the coast north of San Francisco

1847 – The first woman of a group of pioneers known as the Donner Party dies during a trip through a Sierra Nevada mountain pass.  The trip will kill 42 people in total, and many of the survivors will turn to cannibalism

1848 – The Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago formally ends the Mexican War

1852 – The first public flushing toilet is opened in London, and users pay a two cent pence for the privilege

1865 – Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwhackers rob citizens, steal horses and burn a railroad depot in Midway, Kentucky

1870 – The press agencies Havas, Reuter, and Wolff sign an agreement that between the three of them, they can cover the whole world

1870 – The Cardiff Giant is revealed to be a hoax.  A 10-ft tall “petrified man” was found by workers digging a well at the barn of William “Stub” Newell in New York.  George Hull had created the “giant,” spending a great sum of money to do so.  People flocked in from around the world to view the petrified man, attracting the attention of PT Barnum who wanted to purchase it.  When his offers were refused, he had his own built and then began a back-and-forth with Hull over which man was authentic.  While archaeologists immediately proclaimed it to be a fake, others vouched for the authenticity, keeping the hoax alive until Hull finally confessed to the press.  Other notable facts surrounding this case, the phrase, “there’s a sucker born every minute,” said by David Hannum in reference to spectators paying to see Barnum’s giant.  Over the years, the phrase has mistakenly been attributed to Barnum

1876 – The National Baseball League is founded with eight teams

1882 – Irish poet and novelist James Joyce is born

1887 – Groundhog Day is celebrated for the first time in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

1890 – Radio performer Charles Correl is born

1895 – National Football League co-founder George Halas is born

1900 – Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, and Milwaukee agree to form baseball’s American League

1901 – Mexican government troops are badly beaten by Yaqui Indians

1901 – Queen Victoria’s funeral is held at St. George’s Chapel

1905 – Russian and American author and philosopher Ayn Rand is born

1916 – US Senate votes independence for the Philippines

1916 – The British fishing trawler King Stephen finds the remains of a German zeppelin floating in the North Sea

1921 – Airmail service opens for the first time, between New York and San Francisco

1922 – James Joyce’s Ulysses is published in Paris

1922 – The body of film director William Desmond Taylor is found at his Los Angeles home after authorities were informed of a “natural death” at his address.  When they arrived, they found studio executives, actors, and actresses going through the director’s things and Taylor, lying on the floor with a bullet in his back-illustrating Hollywood’s depravity.  Mary Miles Minter, a teenager, had been having an affair with Taylor-a relationship her mother, Charlotte Shelby, had disapproved of.  It came to light that Minter had once tried to shoot herself using the exact type of gun used to murder Taylor, and that Shelby had threatened the life of another director that had made a pass at her daughter.  Shelby’s alibi witness also received large sums of money after the murder.  Despite this evidence, nobody was ever prosecuted, and his case remains officially unsolved.  Years later, Minter admitted that she and her mother had been there the day of Taylor’s murder and director King Vidor told people she had admitted her mother had killed him

1925 – 20 mushers take off on a journey to transport medicine to Nome, Alaska, inspiring the world’s longest and most challenging dog sled race, the Iditarod Race

1926 – 20th President of France, Valery Giscard d’Estaing is born

1934 – Alfred Rosenberg is made philosophical chief of the Nazi Party

1939 – Hungary cuts ties with the Soviet Union

1942 – Vidkun Quisling, a collaborator with the German occupiers of Norway, becomes prime minister of a puppet government.  He will later be executed and tried for treason-his name continues to be a synonym for “traitor”

1943 – Last of the German strongholds at Stalingrad surrender to the Red Army

1944 – The Germans stop an Allied attack in Anzio, Italy

1945 – Over 1,200 Royal Air Force planes bomb Karlsruhe and Wiesbaden

1945 – German politician Carl Friedrich Goerdeler dies

1948 – The US and Italy sign a pact of friendship, commerce, and navigation

1949 – US Secretary of State Dean Acheson rejects Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s proposal that President Harry Truman travel to Russia for a conference, deeming it a “political maneuver”

1959 – Arlington and Norfolk, Virginia desegregate public schools

1960 – The US Senate approves the 23rd Amendment-a ban on the poll tax

1962 – The first US Air Force plane is lost in South Vietnam when it crashed while spraying defoliant on a Viet Cong ambush site

1963 – American singer and guitarist Eva Cassidy is born

1970 – Antiwar demonstrators sue Dow Chemical company in an effort to force the company to disclose all government contracts to prove that it was still making napalm, despite their claims to the contrary

1970 – Nobel Prize-winning English mathematician, historian, and philosopher Bertrand Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, dies

1971 – Major General Idi Amin declares himself president of Uganda

1972 – The Winter Olympics begin in Sapporo, Japan

1972 – American poet and playwright Natalie Clifford Barney dies

1977 – Colombian singer, songwriter, producer and actress Shakira

1978 – US Jewish leaders refuse a meeting with Egypt’s Anwar Sadat

1979 – Sid Vicious, aka John Simon Ritchie, former bassist for the Sex Pistols, dies.  He was out on bail for assaulting a man in a bar with a broken bottle and under indictment for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen

1980 – The FBI operation to uncover political corruption in the government known as ABSCAM, releases its findings to the public.  Senator Harrison Williams, Representatives John Murphy, Michael J. Myers, Richard Kelly and John Jenrette Jr. are convicted of bribery and corruption.  The FBI had posed as representatives of a fictional company, Abdul Enterprises, Ltd., owned by an Arab sheik, and offered officials money in exchange for approval of government contracts for companies in which the “sheik” had invested

1987 – The largest steel strike in American history ends

1990 – South African President FW de Klerk lifted the ban on National Congress and promised to free Nelson Mandela

1991 – Hurley Haywood earns his fifth win at the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance auto race

1996 – Dancer, actor, and choreographer Gene Kelly dies

2003 – Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel stepped down after 13 years

2014 – Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman dies


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the owner of Madison's Media, Madison's CPC and the Chief Administrative Officer for Lanterns. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and has two adult children. Writers seeking additional exposure: Ask how you can contribute!


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