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"Did You Know..."
Notable Historic Events
for the Month of February
1929...The Vatican is now a
sovereign state. Vatican City is located within the city of Rome. It is
the headquarters of the
Roman Catholic Church. Now it is the smallest
country in the world, both in area and population. The Lateran Treaty, signed by
Benito Mussolini and
Pope Paul XI, puts an end to hostility between the
Roman Catholic Church
and the country of Italy. Located within Vatican
City are many Vatican museums, which hold some of the world's most famous
paintings and sculptures. St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are
also located in Vatican City.
1990... The civil rights leader Nelson Mandela is released from
He spent 27 years in
jail. Nelson fought against white supremacy and
racial segregation in Africa. At first Mandela encouraged nonviolent resistence.
When that was ineffective and deadly for his followers, he encouraged
guerrilla warfare against the white minority government.
1941...General Erwin Rommel arrives in Africa to help Italy. Italy wants to take
control of Northern Africa. Things are not going well. Hitler
decides to send one of his top generals to North Africa to help the Italian allies. However,
Rommel has trouble controlling the Italian
troops. At the battle of El Alamein
the Allies push the Axis troops out of North Africa. Rommel returns to
Europe in 1943.
President Bill Clinton
1973...The POW's (Prisoners of War) from Vietnam begin coming home.
impeachment trial ends with the
Senate voting to acquit the
president on both the perjury and obstruction of justice charges.
1633...Galileo arrives in Rome to face charges of heresy for
advocating the Copernican theory that the earth revolves around the
1689...William and Mary become joint rulers of
278...Valentine, a priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, is
executed. Valentine is a
Roman Catholic Priest in the days of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius is a
particularly cruel emperor. Few wanted to join his army. Claudius believes that
the men in his empire don't want to join his army because they are unwilling
to part from their wives and families. So he decides to ban all
and betrothals in Rome. Valentine feels sorry for the young people in love and he
ignores the Emperor’s command and continues to
people. For this reason Claudius orders the execution of Valentine. The sentence
is carried out on
February 14th. The legend is that when Valentine was in
jail he made friends
with the jailer’s daughter. He left a farewell note for her, and signed it “from
your Valentine.” After his death, St. Valentine was made a saint. The name of
Valentine becomes associated with
romance. February 14th will go on to become a
day of passing loving notes to others and
1929...Seven members of Chicago's North Side Gang are killed in the
St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
1929...The discovery of Penicillin is made by Alexander Fleming.
1898...The USS Maine is in Cuba's Havana Harbor to protect American citizens
while Cubans fight for independence from Spain. Fuel is added to the growing tension between
the United States and Spain when the
battleship USS Maine explodes, and 260
American crew members die. This incident, together with Spain's treatment of the
Cuban people, moves the
United States closer to war with Spain.
1903...The first sale is made of a stuffed
Teddy Bear. A
toy shop owner, Morris Michtom, asks
President Roosevelt if he can use his nickname, Teddy, for his
President Roosevelt agrees, and Michtom places a couple of them in his shop
window. He advertises them as
Teddy Bears. Other business owners take notice and soon everyone is
Teddy Bears grow in popularity and become one of the most popular
1950...Disney releases the animated musical fantasy
1933...An assassination attempt is made on the life of
Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami,
President John Adams
sets sail for France to enlist their help fighting the
1923...Archeologist Howard Carter enters
the burial chamber of an ancient Egyptian
king named Tutankhamen. Howard Carter,
backed by Lord Carnarvon, has been searching for the
tomb for 5 years.
When his workmen find a hidden staircase he knows he is close. When Carter
enters the room he finds treasure that is 3,000 years old. The
made of solid
gold. There is jewelry and clothing, as well as statues and
weapons. The most valuable item in the
is the mummy. It is
perfectly preserved. The treasure of King Tutankhamen will go on display around
the world as King Tut's Tomb.
prime minister of
1861...Jefferson Davis becomes president of the Confederacy.
1930...A new planet is discovered and named Pluto.
The planet once thought to be the 9th
planet away from the sun is discovered at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff,
Arizona. It is discovered by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. Astronomers
suspect the existence of a heavenly body in the position of Pluto because of a
wobble in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. They suspect the wobble is caused by
the gravitation pull of another object. They search for many years without
finding one. Then with the aid of new techniques and equipment
Tombaugh finds it. The planet is named Pluto, for the
Greek god of the underworld. Pluto will later be removed from the planet list
because of new rules for planets and their orbits.
1807...Aaron Burr, a former vice-president, is arrested for
treason. Aaron Burr was vice president from 1801-1805. Now he is arrested
Alabama and charged with treason. Aaron Burr’s political career spirals
after he kills
Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr travels to New Orleans and talks with
U.S. General James Wilkinson, a shady character who is a secret agent for the
Spanish Crown. No one really knows exactly what they talked about, but Burr is
accused of plotting to acquire Spanish territory to form another country. In
1806 Burr leads a swarthy, heavily armed group of people toward New Orleans.
United States authorities get wind of it, and in an apparent effort to save
himself, Wilkinson sends messages to Washington accusing Burr of treason. Burr
is tried in a U.S.Circuit court in
Virginia. Burr's story is that he intended to farm 40,000 acres in
Texas territory and that the land was leased to him by the Spanish Crown. He
is acquitted because it is deemed he did not engage in an overt act, which is
required by the
U.S. Constitution to render a guilty verdict. After spending several years
in Europe, he returns home to his law practice in
Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066. It leads to
the unfair treatment of Japanese Americans during the WWII.
1847...Rescuers reach the surviving members of the Donner party.
Astronaut John Glenn
Washington signs the Postal Act. This creates the
US Postal Service.
States have been relying on couriers and private individuals to deliver and
Benjamin Franklin, living in
England, has been acting as Postmaster General
to the postal service set up by England. However, his sympathy for the colonies
cause his dismissal in 1774. He then returns to America, where in 1775 the
Continental Congress accepts his suggestions and sets up a postal service for
the colonies. This serves the colonists well, especially during the war when
General Washington needs to get messages to Congress. In 1792
President Washington formally creates the U.S. Postal Service with the
signing of the Postal Service Act. Included in the Postal Act is permission for
newspapers to be delivered in the
mail, as well as the restriction of
postal officials to open anyone’s
mail. The cost of sending a letter is
between 6 and 12 cents. There are 75 post offices and 2,400 miles of postal
1962...Astronaut John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth.