Today in History ….February 17

On this day in ….

  1753, February 17 is followed by March 1, as Sweden moves from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar

  1801, an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved when Jefferson is elected President of the United States and Burr Vice President by the United States House of Representatives

  1817, Baltimore became the first U.S. city with gas-burning street lights

  1819, the United States House of Representatives passes the Missouri Compromise, between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories

  1867, the first ship passes through the Suez Canal

  1871, the victorious Prussian Army parades though Paris, France after the end of the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War 

  1913, The Armory Show opens at New York City, displaying works of artists who are to become some of the most influential painters of the early 20th Century 

  1924, in Miami, Florida, Johnny Weissmuller sets a new world record in the 100-yard freestyle swimming competition with a time of 52-2/5 seconds

  1933, the Blaine Act ends Prohibition in the United States

  1936, the world’s first superhero, The Phantom, makes his first appearance in comics

  1947, the Voice of America begins to transmit radio broadcasts into the Soviet Union

  1964, in Wesberry v. Sanders the Supreme Court of the United States rules that congressional districts have to be approximately equal in population. Wesberry and the Court’s later “one person, one vote” decisions had an extraordinary impact on the makeup of the House, on the content of public policy, and on electoral politics in general. However, it is quite possible to draw any district lines in accord with the “one person, one vote” rule and, at the same time, to gerrymander them

  1965, the Ranger 8 probe launches on it’s mission to photograph the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon in preparation for the manned Apollo missions. The “Sea of Tranquility” would become the site chosen for the Apollo 11 lunar landing

  1972, President Richard M. Nixon departed on his historic trip to China

  1974, Robert K. Preston, a disgruntled U.S. Army private, buzzes the White House with a stolen helicopter

  1979, the Sino-Vietnamese War begins 

  1992 , a court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin sentences serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to life in prison

  1996, in Philadelphia, world champion Garry Kasparov beats the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match

  2000, a House panel said in a report that the program to inoculate all 2.4 million American military personnel against anthrax was based on “a paucity of science” and should be suspended; the Pentagon defended the program and vowed to continue the inoculations

  2001, former Nation of Islam official Khalid Abdul Muhammad, known for his harsh rhetoric about Jews and whites, died at a hospital in Marietta, Ga., at age 53

  2009, President Barack Obama signed a mammoth, $787 billion economic stimulus package into law in Denver; he also approved adding some 17,000 U.S. troops for the war in Afghanistan

  2011, a group of Democratic Wisconsin lawmakers blocked passage of a sweeping anti-union bill, refusing to show up for a vote and then abruptly leaving the state in an effort to force Republicans to the negotiating table. ALSO: Iowa high school wrestler Joel Northrup defaulted on his first-round state tournament match rather than face Cassy Herkelman, one of the first girls ever to qualify for the event, saying that wrestling a girl would conflict with his religious beliefs  

  2013, tens of thousands of people marched past the White House urging U.S. President Barack Obama to reject the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada 

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