February 19


1600: Peruvian volcano Huaynaputina exploded in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America.

1878: Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) received a patent for his phonograph.

1884: Over sixty tornadoes struck the Southern United States in one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history.

1976: Executive Order 9066, which led to the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps, was rescinded by President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4417.

1985: William J. Schroeder became the first recipient of an artificial heart to leave the hospital (in Lexington, Ky.).

2001: The Oklahoma City bombing museum was dedicated at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

February 20


1792: The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, was signed by President George Washington.

1816: Gioachino Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville premiered at the Teatro Argentina in Rome.

1872: The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in New York City.

1873: The University of California opened its first medical school in San Francisco.

1877: Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake premièred at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

1956: The United States Merchant Marine Academy became a permanent Service Academy.

1967: Born this day: musician Kurt Cobain; actors David Herman, Andrew Shue and Lili Taylor, and; NFL player Tom Waddle.

1971: The United States Emergency Broadcast System was accidentally activated in an erroneous national alert.

2012: A special edition of the Portuguese weekly Terra Nostra set a new world record as the world’s smallest newspaper, measuring just 25 x 18 mm, according to the World Records Academy. With the headline “A Hug to the World,” the special 32-page edition of Terra Nostra cost 2.5 euro. The paper is regularly published in tabloid format.


February 21


1828: The first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix was published, becoming the first periodical to use the Cherokee syllabary invented by Sequoyah.

1842: John Greenough was granted the first U.S. patent for a sewing machine.

1948: NASCAR was incorporated in Daytona Beach, Fla.

1952: The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolished identity cards in the UK to “set the people free.”

1958: The peace symbol, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, was designed and completed by Gerald Holtom (1914-1985).

1972: President Richard Nixon (1913-1994) visited the People’s Republic of China to normalize relations between the two countries.

1986: The Legend of Zelda, the first game of The Legend of Zelda series, was released in Japan on the Famicom Disk System.

1995: Steve Fossett (1944-2007) became the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon, upon landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.


February 22

1732: First U.S. President George Washington was born in Wakefield, Va. (He was actually born Feb. 11, 1731, under the old-style calendar in use at the time of his birth.)

1861: Edward Payson Weston began his 11-day walk from Boston to Washington to see the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln.

1889: President Grover Cleveland signed a bill admitting North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington as U.S. states.

1924: President Calvin Coolidge became the first president to deliver a radio broadcast from the White House.

1959: Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500.

1983: The notorious Broadway flop Moose Murders opened and closed on the same night at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. It is regarded by critics as the worst Broadway play ever produced.

2002: Bugs Bunny animator Chuck Jones died in Corona del Mar, Calif.


February 23


1848: John Quincy Adams (sixth president, 1825-1829) died while giving a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. His last words were, “This is the last of Earth. I am content.”

1861: President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington, D.C., after an alleged assassination plot was thwarted in Baltimore, Md.

1896: The Tootsie Roll was invented in Chicago, becoming the first individually wrapped penny candy.

1903: Cuba leased Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity.”


February 24

1582: Pope Gregory XIII unveiled the Gregorian calendar, which eventually replaced the less-than-accurate Julian calendar.

1938: Born this day: actor James Farentino (Jesus of Nazareth, died 2012); and Nike Inc. cofounder Phil Knight.

1942: Only three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a false alarm led to an anti-aircraft barrage over Los Angeles, Calif., that lasted into the early hours of Feb. 25. The Canadian federal government began interning all persons of Japanese origin. Born this day: English musician and actor Paul Jones (Manfred Mann, The Blues Band, and The Manfreds); and former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. (Al Gore’s running mate in 2000 presidential election).


February 25

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.