1582: Pope Gregory XIII unveiled the Gregorian calendar, which eventually replaced the less-than-accurate Julian calendar.
1607: The first work recognized as an opera, L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi, premiered in Mantua, Italy.
1711: The first Italian opera written for the London stage, Rinaldo by George Frideric Handel, premiered.
1868: Andrew Johnson became the first president of the United States to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.
(He was later acquitted in the Senate.)
1916: The Governor-General of Korea established a clinic in Sorokdo to segregate leprosy patients.
1836: Samuel Colt was granted a U.S. patent for the Colt revolver.
1870: Hiram Rhodes Revels (1827-1901), a Republican from Mississippi, was sworn into the U.S. Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in the U.S. Congress.
1919: Oregon placed a 1 cent per gallon tax on gasoline, becoming the first U.S. state to levy a gasoline tax.
1928: Charles Jenkins Laboratories of Washington, D.C. became the first holder of a television license from the Federal Radio Commission.
1909: Kinemacolor, the first successful color motion picture process, was first shown to the general public at the Palace Theatre in London.
1917: The Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded the first jazz record, for the Victor and injuring over a thousand.
1807: Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine.
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.
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.
1565: The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was founded.
1642: Georgeana, Mass., (now known as York, Maine), became the first incorporated city in what would become the United States.
1692: The first three women in Massachusetts were charged in what would be known as the Salem witch trials.
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.
1845: President John Tyler signed a bill authorizing the United States to annex the Republic of Texas.
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.
1877: Just two days before inauguration, the U.S. Congress declared Rutherford B. Hayes the winner of the election even though Samuel J. Tilden had won the popular vote on Nov. 7, 1876.
1903: The Martha Washington Hotel opened in New York City, becoming the first hotel exclusively for women.
1931: Born this day: former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and U.S. author Tom Wolfe.
1933: The film King Kong opened at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”
– Abraham Lincoln
On February 19, 1909, Congress passed the Enlarged Homestead Act, doubling acreage from 160 to 320 acres in certain western states, including Montana. Although free land provided great opportunity, it also required much hard work to “prove up!” Here, the Deem family “picks rocks” in preparation for plowing near Big Sandy, ca. 1916. Photograph by Alta Deem, PAc 2009-49.9.