1478 Death: George, Duke of Clarence; murdered in the Tower of London by drowning in a butt of Malmsey wine. (Bradley)
1516 Birth: Queen Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of Protestants.
1564 Death: Michelangelo, Renaissance artist and sculptor, in Rome at the age of 88. The prolific Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect and poet was born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni in March of 1475. See Also: Top picture.
1678 John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is first published, in England.
1688 At a monthly meeting in Germantown, Pennsylvania, a group of Quakers and Mennonites become the first white body in English America to register a formal protest against slavery. The historic 'Germantown Protest' denounces both slavery and the slave trade. (Bradley)
1754 Birth: Count Alessandro Volta, in Como, Italy. "Regarded as one of the greatest scientists of his time, Alessandro Volta’s two major contributions to the history of electro-technology were the voltaic cell and his own name. Volta publicly demonstrated the voltaic pile, later known as the battery, in 1799. This was the first continuous reproducible source of electrical current. His surname, Volta, was abbreviated to become the unit of electromotive force—the volt (abbreviated as V). Alessandro Volta was born to a noble and wealthy family on 18 February 1745 in Como, Italy. He began the experiments that would lead to the invention of the battery after fellow Italian Luigi Galvani asserted that animal tissue (in this case, dead frogs’ legs) generated “animal electricity.” Volta doubted that animal tissue was a source of electricity and by careful and thorough experimentation proved that animal tissue was the conductor, not the source, of electricity in Galvani’s experiments. Like many great inventors and scientists, Volta was an extremely driven person. When engrossed in experiments, the only way his manservant could convince him to change his clothes was by distracting him with scientific questions while helping him dress. This dedication paid off both in terms of inventions and notoriety. Volta was something of a celebrity during his time and his fans included Napoleon, who made him a count in 1801."
1813 Czar Alexander enters Warsaw at the head of his Army.
1859 Birth: Shalom Aleichem (Solomon Rabinowitz), Yiddish author, author; Fiddler on the Roof.
1861 Victor Emmanuel II becomes the first King of Italy.
1861 US Civil War: Jefferson F. Davis is inaugurated as the Confederacy's provisional president at a ceremony held in Montgomery, Alabama. "...He puts much in the mind of General Jackson in appearance and character, though he is much more of a gentleman in his manners than the old General ever wished to be. He had a reception last night which I attended. I walked about and exchanged greetings with my friends, but would not shake hands with the President, for I thought I would not be recognized today, and so would rather wait for a more private introduction. The Vice-President is a constant visitor at the houses where I stay; he is very slight and delicate looking, has more the appearance of a dead man than a living one, until he begins to speak, when you forget entirely how ugly he is..."
1878 The bitter and bloody Lincoln County War begins with the murder of Billy the Kid's mentor, Englishman rancher John Tunstall.
1885 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, is published in New York.
1900 Boer War: The Battle of Paardeburg begins.
1909 Birth: Wallace Stegner, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist; Angle of Repose.
1915 WW1: Germany's blockade of Britain by submarine begins.
1918 WW1: The German command launches an offensive along the entire Russian front after the Soviets refuse Germany's terms for peace. 700,000 Austro-German troops are thrown against the newly formed Red Army and begin closing in on Petrograd, Moscow and Kiev. (Polyakov)
1929 Birth: Len Deighton, English author, spy thriller writer; The Ipcress File, Fighter.
1930 Pluto, usually the ninth most distant planet from the sun, is discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh. "Poor Pluto -- its days as one of our solar system's nine major planets may be numbered. Two groups within the International Astronomical Union are thinking about reclassifying the relatively puny planet, either calling it a ``minor planet'' or lumping it in with an entirely new class of objects. ``For at least 20 years, it's been obvious that Pluto doesn't fit,'' said University of Maryland astronomer Mike A'Hearn, who heads the Planetary Systems Sciences Division of the International Astronomical Union. With a diameter of only 1,440 miles, Pluto, the planet farthest from the sun, is smaller than Earth's moon. And while other ``major planets'' have roughly circular orbits, Pluto carves out a sweeping ellipse that frequently takes it closer than Neptune, planet No. 8, to the sun. A'Hearn wants to create a new class of objects for ice balls that orbit beyond Neptune and call them Trans-Neptunian Objects. Pluto would be Trans-Neptunian Object No. 1. Brian Marsden of the union's Minor Planet Center said he has a better idea..."
1933 London Times: "At a Nazi election meeting at Stuttgart on Wednesday (See Feb 15), Herr Hitler repeated the hint which he gave in his national broadcast last week that the Government does not contemplate resigning in the event of a defeat at the polls."
1934 Austria bans the Zionist Labor Organization.
1935 Rome reports sending troops to Italian Somalia.
1936 Goebbels issues a decree muzzling the religious press.
1936 British Major General Sir Neill Malcolm is appointed League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from Germany.
1936 Switzerland bans NSDAP propaganda activities nationwide.
1937 Under a new German conscription law, half and quarter Jews will be eligible for military and labor service.
1937 Czechoslovakia signs an agreement with Sudeten Germans guaranteeing them broader minority rights.
1938 Anthony Eden resigns as Foreign Secretary from the Chamberlain government in protest against Britain's continued appeasement of Italy. (Freedman)
1939 The Golden Gate Exposition opens in San Francisco.
1942 WW2: Plimsoll lines are beginning to appear on hotel and public baths as a fuel shortage hit Britain. Even the King has them painted on baths in Buckingham Palace. Five inches of hot water is the maximum suggested. Shared baths are encouraged. Soap and razor blades are in short supply and women use beetroot for lipstick and soot for eye make-up. (Bradley)
1943 WW2: German General Erwin Rommel takes three towns in Tunisia, North Africa.
1944 Diary of Leon Gladun: The rolling is terrible--a real storm. We pass by Crete. So far there's no enemy planes or submarines. Again we must turn our watches back an hour due to a time change. So many times have I changed my time and my money--and how many more times will there be?
1945 Holocaust: More than 500 Jews, hitherto protected because of their marriages to Christians, are seized throughout Germany and deported to Theresienstadt. (Atlas)
1946 Nuremberg War Crimes Trials: Russian prosecutors offer into evidence a 45-minute film, including footage from captured German films, showing shocking evidence of atrocities. (Maser II)
1954 East and West Berlin drop thousands of propaganda leaflets on each other after the end of a month long truce.
1962 The Nam: Robert F. Kennedy declares that US troops will stay in Vietnam until Communism is defeated.
1964 The United States cuts military aid to five nations in a reprisal for having trade relations with Cuba.
1964 The Papandreou government takes power in Greece.
1965 Gambia gains independence from Britain.
1965 The British Medical Council suggests a drink-drive limit of 'about a dozen whiskies'.
1968 The Nam: Three US pilots that were held by the Vietnamese arrive in Washington.
1968 The Nam: 10,000 people demonstrate against the US in the Vietnam War in West Berlin.
1969 The PLO attacks an El-Al plane in Zurich, Switzerland.
1972 The California Supreme Court eliminates the death penalty.
1974 Randolph Hearst gives $2 million in free food for the poor in order to open talks for the release of his kidnapped daughter, Patty.
1979 President Zia ur-Rahman's National Party wins the elections in Bangladesh.
1980 Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Liberal Party wins the elections in Canada.
1982 Mexico devalues the peso by 30 percent to fight an economic slide.
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