1827: Students in masks and costumes took to the streets of New Orleans, celebrating the first Mardi Gras.
1860: Abraham Lincoln made a speech at Cooper Union (college) in New York City that was largely responsible for his election to the presidency.
1951: The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, limiting presidents to two terms, was ratified.
1784: John Wesley chartered the Methodist Church.
1827: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was incorporated.
1883: The first vaudeville theater opened in Boston.
1935: DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invented nylon.
1939: The erroneous word “dord” was discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, page 771, prompting an investigation.
1953: Scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA, the molecule that contains the human genes.
1954: The first color TV sets were offered for sale.
1983: The last episode of M*A*S*H, which ran 11 seasons, aired and was watched by 77 percent of TV viewers, the third largest audience in TV history after Super Bowl XLV in 2011.
1986: Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme was shot to death as he walked down a street in central Stockholm. The assassin was never caught.
2013: Jeff Bush, 37, of Seffner, Fla., died when a large sinkhole opened beneath his bedroom. The room’s floor, furniture and bed, with Bush in it, fell in. Bush’s body was never recovered. Pope Benedict XVI resigned as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since 1415.
1940: Hattie McDaniel became the first black performer to win an Oscar for her portrayal of “Mammy” in Gone With The Wind.
1980: Buddy Holly’s signature eyeglasses—missing since he was killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa—were discovered in an envelope at the Cerro Gordo County sheriff’s office in Mason City, Iowa. The glasses were eventually returned to Holly’s widow and can now be seen in the exhibit at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.
1781: The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation.
1790: The first U.S. census was conducted.
1803: Ohio was admitted as the 17th U.S. state.
1867: Nebraska became the 37th U.S. state. Lancaster, Neb., was renamed Lincoln and became the state capital.
1872: Yellowstone National Park was established as the world’s first national park.
1893: Electrical engineer Nikola Tesla gave the first public demonstration of radio in St. Louis, Mo.
1933: The film King Kong opened at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
1942: Born this day: Author John Irving and rock singer-guitarist Lou Reed.
1949: The first automatic street light was installed in New Milford, Conn.
1962: Wilt Chamberlain set the single-game scoring record in the National Basketball Association by scoring 100 points.
1284: The principality of Wales was incorporated with England.
1776: The first amphibious landing of the U.S. Marine Corps began the Battle of Nassau in the British Bahamas during the American Revolutionary War.
1836: Texans celebrated the first Texas Independence Day with the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence, officially breaking Texas from Mexico and creating the Republic of Texas.
1519: Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico in search of the Aztec civilization and their wealth.
1789: The first Congress of the United States met In New York City, putting the U.S. Constitution into effect. The U.S. Bill of Rights was written and proposed to Congress.
1791: The independent republic of Vermont joined the United States of America to become the 14th state.
1837: The city of Chicago was incorporated.