Today in History….February 28

1827, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad is incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight

 1844, a 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded as the ship was sailing on the Potomac River, killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer and several others

 1849, the ship California arrived at San Francisco, carrying the first of the gold-seekers

 1854, the Republican Party of the United States is founded in Ripon, Wisconsin

 1861, the Territory of Colorado was organized

 1893, the USS Indiana, the lead ship of her class and the first battleship in the United States Navy comparable to foreign battleships of the time, is launched

 1916, Allied forces complete their conquest of the Cameroons, a German protectorate on the coast of western Africa

 1932, the last Ford Model A was produced, ending an era for the Ford Motor Company. The successor to the Model T, the Model A was an attempt to escape the image of bare bones transportation that had driven both the Model T’s success and its ultimate failure in the market. The vastly improved Model A boasted elegant Lincoln-like styling, a peppy 40 horsepower four-cylinder engine, and, of course, a self-starting mechanism. The Model A was as affordable as its predecessor, however, and with a base price at $460, five million Model A’s would roll onto American highways between 1927 and 1932

 1935, DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents Nylon

 1939, the erroneous word “dord” is discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, prompting an investigation

 1940, basketball is televised for the first time (Fordham University vs. the University of Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden)

 1944, Hannah Reitsch, the first female test pilot in the world, suggests the creation of the Nazi equivalent of a kamikaze squad of suicide bombers while visiting Adolf Hitler, ym”sh, in Berchtesgaden. Hitler was less than enthusiastic about the idea

 1951, the Senate committee headed by Estes Kefauver, D-Tenn., issued a preliminary report saying at least two major crime syndicates were operating in the U.S.

 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announced they had discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule that contains the human genes

 1954, the first-ever color television sets using the NTSC standard are offered for sale to the general public

 1958, a school bus in Floyd County, Kentucky hits a wrecker truck and plunges down an embankment into the rain-swollen Levisa Fork River. The driver and 26 children die in what remains the worst school bus accident in U.S. history

 1959, Discoverer 1, an American spy satellite that is the first object to achieve a polar orbit, is launched

 1972, President Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai issued the Shanghai Communique at the conclusion of Nixon’s historic visit to China

 1982, the J. Paul Getty Museum became the most richly endowed museum on Earth when it received a $1.2 billion bequest left by Getty

 1983, the concluding episode of the long-running television series “M*A*S*H” drew what was then the largest TV audience in U.S. history

 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot to death in central Stockholm

 1987, in a surprising announcement, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev indicates that his nation is ready to sign “without delay” a treaty designed to eliminate U.S. and Soviet medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe. Gorbachev’s offer led to a breakthrough in negotiations and, eventually, to the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in December 1987

 1990, the Soviet Parliament passed a law permitting the leasing of land to individuals for housing and farming. It was another radical change in the Stalinist scheme of a state-run economy

 1991, the first Gulf War ends

 1993, a gun battle erupted at a compound near Waco, Texas, when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to serve warrants on the Branch Davidians; four agents and six Davidians were killed as a 51-day standoff began

 1996, Britain’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana agreed to divorce after 15 years of marriage

 1997, the Democratic National Committee said it would return nearly $1.5 million in contributions that may have been illegal or improper. ALSO: Brushing aside congressional calls for a tougher stance against Mexico, President Clinton recertified the country as a fully cooperating ally in the struggle against drug smuggling

 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a ban on all forms of human cloning, setting up a Senate debate on what would be appropriate research

 2006, a 20-year-old legal fight over protests outside abortion clinics ended with the Supreme Court ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used against demonstrators

 2007, A federal judge in Miami ruled that suspected al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla was competent to stand trial on terrorism support charges, rejecting arguments that he was severely damaged by 3 1/2 years of interrogation and isolation in a military brig. ALSO: Wall Street rebounded fitfully from the previous session’s 416-point plunge in the Dow industrials as investors took comfort from comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that he still expected moderate economic growth

 2008, Prince Harry, third in line for the British throne, was pulled from the front lines in Afghanistan immediately after word got out that he was on army duty. He had spent 10 weeks in the war zone

 2013, President Barack Obama urged the Supreme Court to overturn California’s alternative lifestyle marriage ban and turn a skeptical eye on similar prohibitions across the country. ALSO: Bradley Manning, the Army private arrested in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, pleaded guilty at Fort Meade, Md., to 10 charges involving illegal possession or distribution of classified material. (Manning, who has since taken the female identity Chelsea Manning, was sentenced to up to 35 years in prison after being convicted of additional charges in a court-martial.) AND: In Seffner, Fla., a sinkhole opened up under a man’s bedroom and swallowed him up without a trace; Jeff Bush is presumed dead

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