Learn what happened today in history around the world including major events on crime, entertainment, and more…
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On this day — February 21, 1916
Battle of Verdun begins
World War I’s battle at Verdun, in France, begins with Germany’s massive heavy artillery array inspiring their confidence in winning the engagement quickly. The battle’s 303 days and 714,000 casualties will prove them wrong.
On this day — February 21, 1804
World’s first steam train railway journey
The steam train makes its maiden run, as Richard Trevithick and his locomotive embark on a rail journey between the Penydarren Ironworks to Abercynon in South Wales, reaching a speed of 5 mph on the 9-mile trip.
On this day — February 21, 1599
Shakespeare leases marshland on the Thames River
William Shakespeare joins seven other men in signing a lease on a Southwark lot along the Thames. The playwright now owns a share in what will become the Globe Theater, where some of his most memorable plays will first be staged, including ‘Julius Caesar,’ ‘…[Read more]
On this day — February 20, 1985
Ireland legalizes sale of birth control
Defying the Catholic Church’s wishes on a social issue for the first time, Ireland’s government legislators reverse the ban on importation or sale of contraceptives.
On this day — February 20, 1962
First American orbits the earth
The Friendship 7 spacecraft and its pilot, Major John Glenn, make three orbits around the Earth and travel 65,763 nautical miles in just under five hours. Glenn’s flight, called the Mercury-Atlas 6, comes just months after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s successful orbit of Earth on A…[Read more]
On this day — February 20, 1872
The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York City
Founded two years previously, the Metropolitan officially unveils to the public its total collection: a Roman sarcophagus and 174 paintings. The museum will go on to become the largest in the United States, acquiring a staggering collection of more than 2 million works.
On this day — February 19, 1878
Thomas Alva Edison patents the phonograph
The technology that made the modern music business possible came into existence in the New Jersey laboratory where Thomas Alva Edison created the first device to both record sound and play it back. He was awarded U.S. Patent No. 200,521 for his invention–the pho…[Read more]
On this day — February 18, 1885
Twain publishes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
On this day in 1885, Mark Twain publishes his famous–and famously controversial–novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously succe…[Read more]
On this day — February 17, 1979
China invades Vietnam
After Vietnam topples the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, China launches the Third Indochina War. Tensions between China and the Soviet Union underlie the invasion.
On this day — February 17, 1966
The Beach Boys begin recording ‘Good Vibrations’
Previously purveyors of sunshine-and-sand pop tunes, The Beach Boys begin recording what is arguably their greatest and most blissfully complex song, thanks mainly to the work of their frontman, Brian Wilson.
On this day — February 17, 1913
Armory Show sends shockwaves through the art world
Bringing the European avant-garde on a grand scale to American viewers for the first time, the works in this modern art exhibition, representing the latest styles of Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism, will inspire anger, disgust, delight, and a colossal buzz.
On this day — February 17, 1820
Missouri Compromise passed by US Senate
The tinderbox debate over slavery in the United States is temporarily tamped down as the Senate cobbles together a compromise allowing Missouri to be a slave state while Maine becomes a free state.
On this day — February 16, 1960
Submarine begins world’s first underwater circumnavigation
The USS Triton begins ‘Operation Sandblast,’ the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe. The voyage will generally follow the overwater route Magellan sailed more than four centuries earlier.
On this day — February 16, 1923
King Tut’s tomb unsealed in Egypt
British archaeologist Howard Carter unseals a doorway at the back of a tomb buried under the sands of Thebes, Egypt, and after more than 3,000 years, the pharaoh Tutankhamun has a visitor.
On this day — February 16, 1878
The silver dollar is deemed US legal tender
Amid roiling economic controversy and a financial panic, the United States Congress passes the Bland-Allison Act, requiring the minting of silver coins to be put into circulation as dollar coins. Gold coins will be preferred among Americans, however, giving rise to the g…[Read more]
On this day — February 16, 1804
Swashbuckling raid scuttles a pirated US frigate
Disguised as Maltese sailors, Lt. Stephen Decatur and his men board the USS Philadelphia, an American vessel run aground in Tripoli Harbor and held by Barbary pirates. The ship is considered too valuable to be allowed to remain in the hands of the pirates, so D…[Read more]
On this day — February 15, 1989
Soviet forces leave Afghanistan
After almost a decade of fierce fighting against the Mujahideen, the Soviet Union announces that the last of its troops has left Afghanistan. In the West, the war is deemed ‘the Soviet’s Vietnam.’
On this day — February 15, 1946
ENIAC unveiled as the first general-purpose computer
The University of Pennsylvania formally dedicates their room-filling computer that the press has dubbed a ‘Giant Brain.’ The six main programmers, all women, have initially programmed ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) to run computations on t…[Read more]
On this day — February 15, 1933
Franklin Roosevelt survives assassination attempt
Speaking from the back of an open car near Miami, Florida, President-elect Roosevelt is missed by Giuseppe Zangara’s bullets, but they bring down five others, including Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, who will die 19 days later.
On this day — February 15, 1898
USS Maine blows up in Havana harbor
Over 260 US crew-members are killed when their battleship, the USS Maine, explodes after anchoring in Havana Harbor, off the coast of Cuba. The suspicion that Spain mined the vessel will kindle support for the Spanish-American War.
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