Today in History
Today is Wednesday, Feb. 17, the 48th day of 2021. There are 317 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 17, 1815, the United States and Britain exchanged the instruments of ratification for the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.
On this date:
In 1801, the U.S. House of Representatives broke an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, electing Jefferson president; Burr became vice president.
In 1863, the International Red Cross was founded in Geneva.
In 1864, during the Civil War, the Union ship USS Housatonic was rammed and sunk in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, by the Confederate hand-cranked submarine HL Hunley in the first naval attack of its kind; the Hunley also sank.
In 1897, the forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, convened its first meeting in Washington.
In 1944, during World War II, U.S. forces invaded Eniwetok (ehn-eh-WEE’-tahk) Atoll, encountering little initial resistance from Imperial Japanese troops. (The Americans secured the atoll less than a week later.)
In 1964, the Supreme Court, in Wesberry v. Sanders, ruled that congressional districts within each state had to be roughly equal in population.
In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon departed the White House with his wife, Pat, on a historic trip to China.
In 1988, Lt. Col. William Higgins, a Marine Corps officer serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group, was kidnapped in southern Lebanon by Iranian-backed terrorists (he was later slain by his captors).
In 1996, world chess champion Garry Kasparov beat IBM supercomputer “Deep Blue,” winning a six-game match in Philadelphia (however, Kasparov lost to Deep Blue in a rematch in 1997).
In 2006, Tanja Frieden of Switzerland won the Olympic women’s snowboardcross, speeding past American Lindsey Jacobellis, who’d fallen on her next-to-last jump before the finish line.
In 2015, Vice President Joe Biden opened a White House summit on countering extremism and radicalization, saying the United States needed to ensure that immigrants were fully included in the fabric of American society to prevent violent ideologies from taking root at home.
In 2018, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, told a conference in Germany that there was now “incontrovertible” evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election; the statement stood in stark contrast to Trump’s claim that Russian interference in his election victory was a hoax.
Ten years ago: A group of Democratic Wisconsin lawmakers blocked passage of a sweeping anti-union bill, refusing to show up for a vote and then abruptly leaving the state in an effort to force Republicans to the negotiating table. Iowa high school wrestler Joel Northrup defaulted on his first-round state tournament match rather than face Cassy Herkelman, one of the first girls ever to qualify for the event, saying that wrestling a girl would conflict with his religious beliefs.
Five years ago: A three-way feud among the GOP’s leading White House contenders escalated, with Ted Cruz daring Donald Trump to sue him for defamation and dismissing Marco Rubio’s charges of dishonesty during a CNN forum just days before South Carolina’s high-stakes primary. Travis Hittson, a former Navy crewman, was executed in Georgia for killing a fellow sailor, Conway Utterbeck.
One year ago: More than 300 American cruise ship passengers, including 14 who tested positive for coronavirus, were quarantined at military bases in California and Texas after arriving from Japan on charter flights. A push by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to ban the sale of assault weapons failed after some of his fellow Democrats in the state Senate balked at the proposal. Denny Hamlin won the rain-delayed Daytona 500 for a third time, beating Ryan Blaney in the second-closest finish in race history; Ryan Newman suffered a head injury in a spectacular crash on the final lap. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said he planned to spend $10 billion of his own fortune to help fight climate change. Novelist Charles Portis, whose best-seller “True Grit” was twice adapted into Oscar-nominated films, died at 86. Hall of Fame golfer Mickey Wright, winner of 82 LPGA tournaments including 13 majors, died in Florida; she was 85.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Barry Humphries (aka “Dame Edna”) is 87. Actor Christina Pickles is 86. Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown is 85. Actor Brenda Fricker is 76. Actor Becky Ann Baker is 68. Actor Rene Russo is 67. Actor Richard Karn is 65. Actor Lou Diamond Phillips is 59. Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan is 58. Actor-comedian Larry, the Cable Guy is 58. TV personality Rene Syler is 58. Movie director Michael Bay is 57. Singer Chante Moore is 54. Rock musician Timothy J. Mahoney (311) is 51. Actor Dominic Purcell is 51. Olympic gold and silver medal skier Tommy Moe is 51. Actor Denise Richards is 50. Rock singer-musician Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) is 49. Rock musician Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) is 49. Actor Jerry O’Connell is 47. Country singer Bryan White is 47. Actor Kelly Carlson is 45. Actor Ashton Holmes is 43. Actor Conrad Ricamora is 42. Actor Jason Ritter is 41. TV personality Paris Hilton is 40. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is 40. TV host Daphne Oz is 35. Actor Chord Overstreet is 32. Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is 30. Actor Meaghan Martin is 29. Actor Sasha Pieterse is 25.
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