Today in History….February 26

  1784, in a letter to his daughter, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the choice of the eagle as the symbol of America, and stated his own preference: the turkey

  1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guides a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with great fanfare

  1838, the first Prohibition law in the history of the United States is passed in Tennessee, making it a misdemeanor to sell alcoholic beverages in taverns and stores

  1841, Britain formally occupied Hong Kong, which the Chinese had ceded to the British

  1848, the Second French Republic is proclaimed

  1861, Louisiana seceded from the Union

  1863, President Abraham Lincoln signs the National Currency Act into law

  1870, Virginia rejoined the Union. ALSO: In New York City, a demonstration of the first pneumatic subway opens to the public 1885, the Berlin Act, which resulted from the Berlin Conference regulating European colonization and trade in Africa, is signed

  1907, Congress passed the Tillman Act, which prohibited corporations from making direct campaign contributions to federal election candidates

  1914, HMHS Britannic, sister to the RMS Titanic, is launched at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast

  1919, an act of the U.S. Congress establishes most of the Grand Canyon as a United States National Park

  1942, the first American expeditionary force to go to Europe during World War II went ashore in Northern Ireland

  1945, Soviet troops enter Auschwitz, Poland, freeing the survivors of the network of concentration camps-and finally revealing to the world the depth of the horrors perpetrated there

  1950, India officially proclaimed itself a republic as Rajendra Prasad took the oath of office as president

  1962, the United States launched Ranger 3 to land scientific instruments on the moon — but the probe missed its target by some 22,000 miles

  1971, U.N. Secretary General U Thant signs United Nations proclamation of the vernal equinox as Earth Day.

  1980, at the request of President Jimmy Carter, the U.S. Olympic Committee votes to ask the International Olympic Committee to cancel or move the upcoming Moscow Olympics. The action was in response to the Soviet military invasion of Afghanistan the previous month

  1984, US troops withdraw from Beirut. President Ronald Reagan had sent the troops as a peacekeeping force in August 1982

  1991, on Baghdad Radio Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein announces the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait

  1993, first World Trade Center bombing: In New York City, a truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center explodes, killing 6 and injuring over a thousand

  1997, the Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots 35-21 to win their first Super Bowl in 29 years

  2004, the United States lifts a ban on travel to Libya, ending travel restrictions to the nation that had lasted for 23 years

  2005, a fragment of granite bearing the name “John” — all that remained of a memorial to the six people killed in the 1993 terror attack on the World Trade Center — was installed as the central piece of a new post-9/11 memorial

  2006, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Denmark to protest caricatures of Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper. (Protests spread across the Muslim world for weeks, and dozens of people were killed by practitioners of that “religion of peace”)

  2009, the Pentagon, reversing an 18-year-old policy, said it would allow some media coverage of returning war dead, with family approval

  2011, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose strong sanctions on Libya and called for a war-crimes investigatio

  2013, A deeply divided Senate voted, 58-41, to confirm Republican Chuck Hagel, known for his anti-Israel stances, to be U.S. defense secretary. ALSO: A  hot air balloon burst into flames during a sunrise flight over the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor and then plummeted 1,000 feet to earth, killing 19 tourists (one tourist and the balloon’s pilot survived).

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