On this day in….
1752 – The Pennsylvania Hospital opened as the very first hospital in America.
1808 – Judge Jesse Fell experimented by burning anthracite coal to keep his house warm. He successfully showed how clean the coal burned and how cheaply it could be used as a heating fuel.
1812 – The term “gerrymandering” had its beginning when the governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, signed a redistricting law that favored his party.
1858 – A French girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary near Lourdes.
1878 – The first U.S. bicycle club, Boston Bicycle Club, was formed.
1929 – The Lateran Treaty was signed. Italy now recognized the independence and sovereignty of Vatican City.
1936 – Pumping began the process to build San Francisco’s Treasure Island.
1937 – General Motors agreed to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union, which ended the current sit-down strike against them.
1940 – NBC radio presented “The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street” for the first time.
1943 – General Dwight David Eisenhower was selected to command the allied armies in Europe.
1945 – During World War II, the Yalta Agreement was signed by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. (Today in World War II History)
1957 – The NHL Players Association was formed in New York City.
1958 – Ruth Carol Taylor was the first black woman to become a stewardess by making her initial flight.
1960 – Jack Paar walked off while live on the air on the “Tonight Show” with four minutes left. He did this in response to censors cutting out a joke from the show the night before.
1968 – The new 20,000 seat Madison Square Garden officially opened in New York. This was the fourth Garden.
1972 – McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. and Life magazine canceled plans to publish an autobiography of Howard Hughes. The work turned out to be fake.
1975 – Margaret Thatcher became the first woman to head a major party in Britain when she was elected leader of the Conservative Party.
1979 – Nine days after the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran (after 15 years in exile) power was seized by his followers.
1982 – ABC-TV’s presentation of “The Winds of War” concluded. The 18-hour miniseries cost $40 million to produce and was the most-watched television program in history at the time.
1982 – France nationalized five groups of major industries and 39 banks.
1984 – The tenth Space Shuttle mission returned to Earth safely.
1989 – Rev. Barbara C. Harris became the first woman to be consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church.
1990 – Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in captivity.
1990 – In Tokyo, Japan, James “Buster” Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in the tenth round to win the heavyweight championship.
1993 – Janet Reno was appointed to the position of attorney general by U.S. President Clinton. She was the first female to hold the position.
2000 – The space shuttle Endeavor took off. The mission was to gather information for the most detailed map of the earth ever made.
2000 – Great Britain suspended self-rule in Northern Ireland after the Irish Republican Army (IRA) failed to begin decommissioning (disarming) by a February deadline.
2002 – The six stars on NBC’s “Friends” signed a deal for $24 million each for the ninth and final season of the series.
2006 – In Texas, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a quail hunt.
2009 – John Dingell of Michigan became the longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He had more than 53 years of service.