0269 Death: St. Valentine. "...Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honor Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia. The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry. Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed that the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. As a result, Claudius canceled all marriages and engagements in Rome. The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kind deed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to cut off his head..."
0496 Pope Gelasius sets aside February 14 to honor St. Valentine.
1400 Death: King Richard II of England, under unexplained circumstances in Pontefract Castle; Richard had been deposed from the throne the previous year.
1779 Death: Captain Cook, British explorer, murdered by natives in Owyhee (now known as Hawaii), when he attempts to retrieve a stolen row boat. "...On Cook's second visit, says Sahlins, he became an unwitting actor in the Makahiki story. At each landing, he was welcomed, fed, anointed with coconut oil, and given gifts of small pigs-all, notes Sahlins, "part of the standard ritual for greeting" Lono's icon when it came ashore. These rituals were documented almost exclusively by Europeans, in shipboard journals-which include transcriptions of Hawaiian phrases-and in oral histories of Hawaiians compiled later by missionaries. As a source of how Hawaiians actually saw Cook, however, Obeyesekere describes this record as "an embarassment to ethnography." Sahlins believes that's going too far. "You can't say that every time a Hawaiian opens his mouth and says something that it's the European who wrote it who said it," he says. "In that sense it's just as imperialist as anything else. "As the Makahiki season ended in February 1779, Cook's ships left Hawai'i, but returned a week later after suffering storm damage. Post-Makahiki, writes Sahlins, the Hawaiian chiefs now perceived Cook's presence as "sinister"-a violation of the Lono story in which man conquers the god. Frictions escalated until Cook, attempting to retrieve a stolen longboat, tried to take the king hostage. Instead, says Sahlins, "he evoked the anger of some two or three thousand people" and was stabbed, beaten, and killed.One might wonder how the Hawaiians could confuse a strange white man with one of their gods. This, writes Obeyesekere, goes against "practical rationality"-a universal quality, he says, that Westerners think is theirs exclusively and beyond the grasp of "savages. "Sahlins counters that interpreting cultures through such universals erases what is unique to each group. He concedes, "Com-mon sense says Cook didn't speak Hawaiian, he didn't look Hawaiian, he was a foreigner, and so on." But the Polynesian religion, on the other hand, believes that "gods come from foreign places, the speech of the gods is indecipherable, and the gods take all kinds of forms..."
1797 The British fleet, under Admirals John Jervis and Horatio Nelson, defeat the Spanish at the battle of St. Vincent off Portugal. "The battle which took place on St. Valentine's day, February 14th marked a turning point in the war, which up until then had little glory for the British. The Mediterranean was closed to British shipping, Spain and Italy had allied with France and there had been several military defeats of Britain's allies. Poor weather and even worse commanders had prevented a French invasion of Bantry Bay. Sir John Jervis in the VICTORY (100) was commanding a British fleet in early 1797 and was awaiting the return of Commodore Nelson's squadron from the West Indies where it had been engaged in a special mission. He chose a rendezvous off Cape St. Vincent, Europe's most south-westerly point. Jervis was 62 and had been in the Navy since he had run away to sea as a boy. Having raised his flag in 1795 he had slowly tightened up discipline, improved morale and had generally improved his fleet dramatically. When Nelson returned he transferred his broad pennant to the CAPTAIN (74) and the stage was set for the battle. The Spanish fleet under Admiral Jose de Cordova had been escorting a group of large merchant ships carrying mercury, en route to Cadiz. They consisted of 27 ships of the line and 3 frigates, including the SANTISSIMA TRINIDAD, a massive 136 gun ship! Jervis had 15 ships of the line and 7 frigates and smaller craft, on the face of it a massive imbalance. As the morning fog slowly lifted so the extent of the Spanish fleet was revealed..."
1803 Moses Coats receives a patent for the apple parer.
1819 Birth: Christopher Sholes, US inventor of the typewriter.
1849 President James Polk has his portrait taken by pioneering photographer Matthew Brady in New York City; the first photograph of a US President.
1859 Oregon is admitted as the 33rd US state.
1864 Birth: Israel Zangwill, writer, celebrated portrayer of the humorous as well as the tragic side of Jewish life in England. He is the son of immigrants and will grow up in London's East End. He will graduate from the University of London, and become the most popular Jewish writer of his time. His many books will include Children of the Ghetto and The King of Schnorrers. Through his books he will introduce Jewish life and culture to a broader Gentile audience. Zangwill will also author the most famous metaphor to describe America. In his 1908 play, The Melting Pot he will write, "America is God's crucible, the great melting pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming." Zangwill will also become the most famous Zionist of his day, devoting his life to the cause of helping Jews return to their ancient 'homeland.' (Bradley)
1876 Alexander Graham Bell applies for his patent on the telephone, an 'Improvement in Telegraphy.'
1884 The mother and the wife of Theodore Roosevelt both expire this Valentine's Day in the Roosevelt home in New York City; of typhoid fever and Bright's disease, respectfully. (Bradley)
1893 Hawaii is annexed to the US by treaty, but the treaty is withdrawn by President Grover Cleveland.
1899 Voting machines for use in federal elections are approved by the US Congress, with Florida abstaining.
1912 Arizona is admitted as the 48th state.
1913 Volkishness: Feb 14-19 Philipp Stauff is involved in a series of spiritualist seances which claim to communicate with the long-dead priest-kings of the old religion. Guido von List later writes about these seances in depth. (Roots)
1919 The League of Nations, international peacekeeping body is formed with 17 initial member nations.
1919 The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission admits executing 5, 496 "political criminals," including 800 persons convicted of nonpolitical offenses, although the number was probably much higher. (Polyakov)
1920 The League of Women Voters is formed in Chicago.
1922 Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi begins the first regular radio broadcasting transmissions from England.
1926 Weimar: Hitler calls a meeting of nationalist leaders at Bamburg.
1928 Birth: Frank Borman, NASA astronaut. "A hero of the American Space Odyssey, Frank Borman led the first team of American astronauts to circle the moon, extending man's horizons into space. He is internationally known as Commander of the 1968 Apollo 8 Mission. A romance with airplanes that began when he was 15 years old, took Frank Borman to the Air Force and then to NASA. A career Air Force officer from 1950, his assignments included service as a fighter pilot, an operational pilot and instructor, an experimental test pilot and an assistant professor of Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics at West Point. When selected by NASA, Frank Borman was instructor at the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards AFB, California. In 1967 he served as a member of the Apollo 204 Fire Investigation Board, investigating the causes of the fire which killed three astronauts aboard an Apollo spacecraft, reminiscent of the Challenger tragedy. Later he became the Apollo Program Resident Manager, heading the team that re-engineered the Apollo spacecraft..."
1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre: The first organized crime massacre of national notoriety occurs when gunmen in the employment of gangster Al Capone murder seven members of the 'Bugs' Moran gang in a garage on North Clark Street, in Chicago. George Bugs Moran is a career criminal who ran the North Side gang in Chicago during the bootlegging era of the 1920s. He fought bitterly with Scarface Al Capone for control of smuggling and trafficking operations in the Windy City. Throughout the 1920s, both survived several attempted murders. On one notorious occasion, Moran's gang drove 10 cars past Capone's headquarters and showered the building with thousands of bullets in the middle of the day. Al Capone, who was born in New York, had come to Chicago in the early years of Prohibition and joined organized crime boss John Torrio in the establishment of a lucrative bootleg alcohol business. After murdering most of his opponents, Scarface Al took over from Torrio, and built a powerful crime syndicate that received tribute from businessmen and politicians and controlled gambling and prostitution in Chicago. However, in the late 1920s, Capone's absolute rule over the city's organized crime was still contested by an old Chicago rival, George 'Bugs' Moran, the head of the North Siders gang. In February of 1929, Capone ordered Moran and his gang eliminated. On February 14, St. Valentine's Day, Capone's hit men lure the Moran gang to a garage on North Clark Street with an offer of buying some high quality whiskey at a low price. After the Moran gang arrives, the assassination squad, dressed in police uniforms, enter the garage pretending to be police raiders. The seven North Siders, apparently caught red-handed, line up against the wall obediently. Moments later, Capone's men open fire, killing six of the men instantly and fatally wounding the seventh. Bugs Moran himself, arriving late for the meeting, spots the assassins entering the garage in their police uniforms, and so is able to escape. The story of the so-called St. Valentine's Day Massacre catches America's attention, and Al Capone, the obvious perpetuator of the deed, becomes a household name. Although Capone himself is in Florida at the time, and little is found to directly connect him to the crime, his new notoriety will encourage various law enforcement agencies to step up their investigation of the elusive crime boss. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre will actually prove to be the last confrontation for both Capone and Moran. Capone will be jailed in 1931 and Moran has lost so many important men that he can no longer could control his territory. (Bradley)
1934 King Albert of Belgium dies in a mountain-climbing accident.
1939 The German navy launches the battleship Bismarck. "At its time, the German Battleship Bismarck was the finest, most feared warship the world had ever seen. It was a super weapon meant to help cut off the British supply lines in the Atlantic. Hence, when the Bismarck went on its first mission on May 19, 1941, the British launched the biggest hunt for a single ship the world has ever seen. Britain’s finest ship, the Battleship HMS Hood, was the first to confront the Bismarck, but it went down after its ammunition chamber was hit by a Bismarck shell. Only 3 men of its 1,415 crewmembers survived. "Sink the Bismarck!" was then the British battle cry. Britain sent an entire fleet after the Bismarck. The British quickly managed to encircle the Bismarck because its rudder had been damaged early on by a torpedo launched from a British aircraft. What followed was an uninterrupted shelling of the partly disabled Bismarck with cannon fire and torpedoes from many ships. Thus, it lasted only a few days before the Bismarck finally went down, 600 miles off the coast of France, on May 27, 1941. Only 115 of its 2,200 men survived, since the British abandoned the area in fear of U-boat attacks. This British victory was vastly exploited by the Anglo-Saxon propaganda machinery with books, movies, and television shows. The only problem is that the story is probably untrue. Survivors of the Bismarck have always maintained that they actually scuttled the ship to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, which is a German naval tradition. Scuttling charges were said to have been placed to shatter water intakes and other weak areas near the ship’s keel. According to those German survivors..."
1940 WW2: Britain announces that all British merchant ships in the North Sea will be armed.
1941 WW2: The first units of what will be the Afrika Corps land in Tripoli. Field Marshal Kesselring is in Rome as the German representative.
1941 Birth: Donna Shalala, US Secretary of Health and Human Services.
1943 WW2: The Russians capture Rostov, Voroshilovgrad and Krasny Sulin from the Germans.
1943 WW2: At the Battle of Kasserine, Rommel makes a sudden strike at the American lines in Tunisia, driving 59 miles through US positions at Kasserine Pass.
1944 Birth: Carl Bernstein, US journalist, author; All The Presidents Men.
1950 A 30-year treaty is signed between the Soviet Union and China in Moscow, giving rise to the myth of Monolithic Communism.
1958 King Faisal of Iraq and King Hussein of Jordan proclaim the merger of their kingdoms in the Arab Federation, with King Faisal as head of state and King Hussein his deputy.
1962 A televised tour of the White House, led by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and hosted by Charles Collingwood, is broadcast simultaneously by CBS and NBC. The tour is watched by an estimated 46,500,000 viewers, offering them their first opportunity to see many of the rooms of the President's home. The First Lady is praised on her astute knowledge of the antique furniture in the White House, as she explains the history of many of the pieces during the tour. (Bradley)
1963 Harold Wilson becomes the new leader of the Labour Party at the age of 46, as he defeats George Brown by 144 to 103 votes in a ballot of the party's MP's. Mr Wilson declares, "My mandate is to lead us to victory in the coming general election and I intend to." (Bradley)
1972 The Soviet unmanned spacecraft Luna 20 is launched to the moon.
1979 Death: Adolphe Dubs, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, killed when security forces try to free him from kidnappers.
1979 The US embassy in Iran is stormed by demonstrators, holding the ambassador and staff captive for several hours.
1989 The Ayatollah Khomeini issues a fatwa edict calling on Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses.
1989 Union Carbide Corporation accepts an Indian Supreme Court ruling that it pay $470 million in compensation for the 1984 Bhopal poison gas disaster, in which poisonous clouds from a Carbide fertilizer plant enveloped nearly 20 square miles and killed thousands in the immediate area. (Bradley)
1992 The European Community and the seven-nation European Free Trade Association finalize an agreement clearing the way for the creation of the world's biggest single market.
1996 An armed North Korean demanding political asylum shoots his way into the Russian embassy compound in Pyongyang, killing three.
Click Here to email the History: One Day At a Time webmaster.