1663 – Cotton Mather (d.1728), American clergyman and witchcraft specialist, was born.
1733 – English colonists led by James Oglethorpe founded Savannah, Ga. Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe sailed up the Savannah River with 144 English men, women and children and in the name of King George II chartered the Georgia Crown Colony. He created the town of Savannah, to establish an ideal colony where silk and wine would be produced, based on a grid of streets around six large squares.
1793 – Congress passes the first fugitive slave law, requiring all states, including those that forbid slavery, to forcibly return slaves who have escaped from other states to their original owners. The laws stated that “no person held to service of labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such labor or service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.” As Northern states abolished slavery, most relaxed enforcement of the 1793 law, and many passed laws ensuring fugitive slaves a jury trial. Several Northern states even enacted measures prohibiting state officials from aiding in the capture of runaway slaves or from jailing the fugitives. This disregard of the first fugitive slave law enraged Southern states and led to the passage of a second fugitive slave law as part of the Compromise of 1850 between the North and South. The second fugitive slave law called for the return of slaves “on pain of heavy penalty” but permitted a jury trial under the condition that fugitives be prohibited from testifying in their own defense. Notable fugitive slave trials, such as the Dred Scott case of 1857, stirred up public opinion on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Meanwhile, fugitive slaves circumvented the law through the “Underground Railroad,” which was a network of persons, primarily free African Americans, who helped fugitives escape to freedom in the Northern states or Canada.
1802 – Revenue Marine (Revenue Cutter Service) has 38 commissioned officers in service, 9 captains, 10 first mates, 9 second mates and 10 third mates.
1806 – The Senate, acting on President Madison’s reports on British naval hostilities, issues a resolution condemning British actions as “unprovoked aggression” and “a violation of neutral rights.” The resolution has no effect on British policies.
1809 – Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the US, was born in Hardin County (present-day Larue County), Kentucky. Lincoln was president of the United States during one of the most turbulent times in American history. Although roundly criticized during his own time, he is recognized as one of history’s greatest figures who preserved the Union during the Civil War and proved that democracy could be a lasting form of government. Lincoln entered national politics as a Whig congressman from Illinois, but he lost his seat after one term due to his unpopular position on the Mexican War and the extension of slavery into the territories. The 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates for the Senate gave him a national reputation. In 1860, Lincoln became the first president elected from the new Republican Party. Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. In 1996 a new biography of Abraham Lincoln by David Donald was published.
1825 – William McIntosh, Chief of the Creek nation, signs the Treaty of Indian Springs ceding all Creek lands in Georgia to the United States and agreeing to vacate by 1 September 1826. A Creek mob, denouncing McIntosh as a traitor, kills him.
1828 – Confederate General Robert Ransom, Jr., is born in Warren County, North Carolina. Ransom attended West Point, graduating 18th out of 44 in 1850. For the next decade, he served on the frontier and as an instructor at his alma mater. Ransom was in Kansas during the violent clashes between pro- and anti-slave forces after the creation of the territory in 1854. He was a captain when North Carolina seceded in April 1861, receiving the same rank in the Confederate cavalry. Within a year, Ransom was a brigadier general serving in North Carolina, where he saw action against Union coastal raiders near Goldsboro. He was transferred to Virginia to defend Richmond, and his unit fought during the Seven Days battles in June and July 1862. Ransom commanded a brigade at Antietam in September, and a division at Fredericksburg in December. He returned to command troops in North Carolina in early 1863 and earned a promotion to major general. He next commanded the District of Southeast Virginia, where his troops guarded the railroads serving the capital at Richmond. Ransom went to Tennessee in the fall of 1863 with General James Longstreet during the attempt to save Tennessee from the Yankees. He fought at Chickamauga and the Knoxville campaign with Longstreet before returning to command the Richmond defenses in 1864. He commanded a force that faced Union General Benjamin Butler southeast of the city, and his leadership helped bottle Butler’s force inside of a bend in the James River called the Bermuda Hundred. That summer, Ransom served with General Jubal Early during the Shenandoah Valley campaign. He ended the war commanding troops at Charleston, South Carolina. Ransom worked as a civil engineer and a farmer in his home state after the war, and he died at New Bern, North Carolina, in 1892.
1836 – Mexican General Santa Anna crossed the Rio Grande en route to the Alamo.
1839 – Aroostook War took place over a boundary dispute between Maine and New Brunswick.
1846 – Mexican President, General Mariano Paredes, refuses to receive John Slidell of Louisiana who has been sent as an envoy by the United States.1861 – State troops seized US munitions in Napoleon, Ak.
1863 – U.S.S. Queen of the West, Colonel C. R. Ellet, steamed up Red River and ascended Atchafalaya River where a landing party destroyed twelve Confederate Army wagons. That night, Queen of the West was fired on near Simmesport, Louisiana, Next day, Ellet returned to the scene of the attack and destroyed all the buildings on three adjoining plantations in reprisal. The vessel had previously run below Vicksburg to disrupt Confederate trade in the Red River area.
1877 – The 1st news dispatch by telephone was made between Boston and Salem, Mass.
1880 – President Hayes issues a warning against illegal settlers in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The territory will be opened to settlement in 1889.
1893 – Omar Nelson Bradley, U.S. army general during World War II and the nation’s last 5-star general, is born. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1915, where he later taught mathematics. After years of administrative posts, Bradley was a brigadier general when the United States entered World War II. He commanded forces in North Africa and Sicily, then moved to command the American involvement in the D-Day invasion of 1944, ultimately liberating Paris, France from the German occupied forces. Quiet, polite and popular with enlisted men, Bradley has often been contrasted with his more blustery colleague, General George S. Patton, Jr. After the war, Bradley served in the Veterans’ Administration and as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retiring in 1953.
1914 – In Washington, D.C., the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial is put into place.
1915 – The cornerstone for the Lincoln Memorial was laid in Washington, D.C.
1918 – WW I Marines landed at Scapa Flow, Great Britain.
1924 – President Calvin Coolidge made the 1st presidential radio speech.
1935 – The USS Macon, the last U.S. Navy dirigible, crashed on its 55th flight off the coast of California, killing two people. After takeoff from Point Sur, California, a gust of wind tore off the ship’s upper fin, deflating its gas cells and causing the ship to fall into the sea. Two of Macon ‘s 83 crewmen died in the accident. The U.S. Navy lost the airships Shenandoah in 1925 and Akron in 1933. Some considered airships too dangerous for the program to continue at that point, and work on them in the United States halted temporarily. The German zeppelin Hindenburg crashed and burned in 1936.
1938 – German troops entered Austria.
1938 – Japan refused to reveal naval data requested by the U.S. and Britain.
1942 – The Anzac Squadron is formed at Suva in Fiji. It includes the cruiser Australia, USS Chicago, Achilles and Leander as well as two American destroyers.
1944 – On New Britain, US marines capture Gorissi, 25 miles east of Cape Gloucester. Meanwhile, Allied forces land on Rooke Island.
1944 – Forces of the US 5th Army are redeployed. The New Zealand Corps replaces the US 2nd Corps opposite Cassino. At Anzio, there is a lull in the battle. The British 1st Division is withdrawn from the line because of heavy losses. American General Lucas, commanding Allied forces on the beachhead, organizes an inner defensive perimeter.
1945 – The US 11th Corps has closed the neck of the Bataan Peninsula and is advancing southward to clear the Japanese forces from it.
1945 – American USAAF B-24 and B-29 bombers raid Iwo Jima in preparation for the landings later in the month. They drop a daily average of 450 tons of bombs over the course of 15 days (6800 tons).
1945 – USS Batfish (SS-310) sinks second Japanese submarine within three days.
1947 – First launching of guided missile (Loon) from a submarine, USS Cusk.
1948 – 1st Lt. Nancy Leftenant became the 1st black in the army nursing corps.
1950 – Senator Joe McCarthy claimed to have yet another list of 205 communist government employees.
1950 – Albert Einstein warned against the hydrogen bomb.
1951 – I Corps forces regrouped south of the Han River while the ROK Capital Division took Yangyang.
1953 – The Willys-Overland Company, which brought America the Jeep, celebrated its golden anniversary. The original design for an all-terrain troop transport vehicle–featuring four-wheel drive, masked fender-mount headlights, and a rifle rack under the dash–was submitted to the U.S. Armed Forces by the American Bantam Car Company in 1939. The Army loved Bantam’s design, but the production contract was ultimately given to Willys-Overland on the basis of its similar design and superior production capabilities. Mass production of the Willys Jeep began after the U.S. declaration of war in 1941. By 1945, 600,000 Jeeps had rolled off the assembly lines and onto battlefields in Asia, Africa, and Europe. The name “Jeep” is supposedly derived from the Army’s request to car manufacturers to develop a “General Purpose” vehicle. “Gee Pee” turned to “Jeep” somewhere along the battle lines. The Willys Jeep became a cultural icon in the U.S. during World War II, as images of G.I.s in Gee Pees liberating Europe saturated the newsreels in movie theaters across the country. Unlike the Hummer of recent years, the Jeep was not a symbol of technological superiority but rather of the courage of the American spirit, a symbol cartoonist Bill Mauldin captured when he drew a weeping soldier firing a bullet into his broken down Willys Jeep. In 1945, Willys-Overland introduced the first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A.
1955 – President Eisenhower sent 1st US “advisors” to South Vietnam to aid the government under Ngo Dinh Diem.
1963 – Construction begins on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
1966 – The South Vietnamese won two big battles in the Mekong Delta.1972 – Senator Kennedy advocated amnesty for Vietnam draft resisters.
1972 – About 6,000 Cambodian troops launch a major operation to wrestle the religious center of Angkor Wat from 4,000 North Vietnamese troops entrenched around the famous Buddhist temple complex, which had been seized in June 1970. Fighting continued throughout the month. Even with the addition of 4,000 more troops, the Cambodians were unsuccessful, and eventually abandoned their efforts to expel the North Vietnamese.
1973 – The release of U.S. POWs begins in Hanoi as part of the Paris peace settlement. The return of U.S. POWs began when North Vietnam released 142 of 591 U.S. prisoners at Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport. Part of what was called Operation Homecoming, the first 20 POWs arrived to a hero’s welcome at Travis Air Force Base in California on February 14. Operation Homecoming was completed on March 29, 1973, when the last of 591 U.S. prisoners were released and returned to the United States.
1988 – Two Soviet warships bump two U.S. navy vessels in waters claimed by the Soviet Union. The incident was an indication that even though the Cold War was slowly coming to a close, old tensions and animosities remained unabated. The incident between the ships took place in the Black Sea, off the Crimean peninsula. The American destroyer Caron and cruiser Yorktown were operating within the 12-mile territorial limit claimed by the Soviet Union. They were challenged by a Soviet frigate and destroyer and told to leave the waters. Then, according to a Navy spokesman, the Soviet ships “shouldered” the U.S. ships out of the way, bumping them slightly. There was no exchange of gunfire, and the American ships eventually departed from the area. There was no serious damage to either U.S. vessel or any injuries. In many ways, the incident was an unnecessarily provocative action by the United States. For many years, the United States had challenged the Russian claim of a 12-mile territorial limit in the waters off the Crimean peninsula. However, the timing and the use of the Caron in this particular operation made this a rather foolish act. The United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in negotiations to limit long-range nuclear weapons, and in December 1987, the important INF Treaty, by which both the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to eliminate their medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, had been signed. The Caron was well known as an intelligence gathering vessel and its appearance in waters claimed by the Soviets would be seen as suspicious at best. For their part, the Soviets probably overreacted. American ships regularly moved through the area and were usually unchallenged. Perhaps the Soviet military felt a message should be sent that Russia, which was experiencing severe economic and political problems, was still a nation to be taken seriously as a major military power.
1989 – The special prosecutor in the Iran-Contra case and the Justice Department reached an agreement on protecting classified materials aimed at allowing the trial of Oliver North to proceed.
1990 – President Bush rejected Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s new initiative for troop reductions in Europe, but predicted a “major success” on arms control at the superpower summit in June.
1997 – The Clinton administration gave permission to 10 U.S. news organizations to open bureaus in Cuba.
1997 – In Maine Philip Berrigan was arrested at an anti-nuclear protest. He was one of 6 activists later convicted for vandalizing a Navy guided missile destroyer at the Bath Iron Works.
1997 – The Discovery space shuttle lifted off and work was planned on the Hubble Space Telescope.
1997 – A U.S. admiral headquartered in Bahrain reports that tankers are smuggling tens of thousands of tons of fuel oil out of Iraq in violation of United Nations’ sanctions by reportedly skirting the shoals of Iran’s coast, apparently with Iranian approval.
1998 – NASA planned a rocket launch from Tortuguero base in Puerto Rico. 10 more rockets were planned for launch over the next 30 days.
1999 – Pres. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate 55-45 on a perjury charge and 50-50 on an obstruction of justice charge. He once again apologized for burdening the nation with his conduct. Clinton told Americans he was “profoundly sorry” for what he had said and done in the Monica Lewinsky affair that triggered the impeachment drama.
2001 – NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft touches down in the “saddle” region of 433 Eros, becoming the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid. The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous – Shoemaker (NEAR Shoemaker), renamed after its 1996 launch in honor of planetary scientist Eugene Shoemaker, was a robotic space probe designed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for NASA to study the near-Earth asteroid Eros from close orbit over a period of a year. The mission succeeded in closing in with the asteroid and orbited it several times, finally terminating by touching down on the asteroid.
2002 – In Pakistan police arrested Ahmed Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in the kidnapping of WSJ reported Daniel Pearl. Pakistan charged 3 men in connection with the kidnapping. They and a fourth man were later convicted of Pearl’s murder.
2002 – Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic went on trial in The Hague, accused of war crimes.
2003 – The UN nuclear agency declared North Korea in violation of international treaties, sending the dispute to the Security Council.
2003 – UN weapons inspectors in Iraq destroy a declared stockpile of mustard gas and artillery shells at a former weapons site.
2008 – The U.S. Senate votes to grant immunity to telecommunications companies for their role in NSA call database.
2010 – The United States successfully shoots down a launching ballistic missile using the Boeing YAL-1, a military Boeing 747-400F aircraft mounted with a chemical oxygen iodine laser weapon. The Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser Testbed (formerly Airborne Laser) weapons system is a megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) mounted inside a modified Boeing 747-400F. It is primarily designed as a missile defense system to destroy tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs), while in boost phase. The aircraft was designated YAL-1A in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Defense.
2013 – Following a seismic event recorded in South Korea, North Korea confirms that it has successfully tested a nuclear device, claiming that it is small enough to be weaponized.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
*DELEAU, EMILE, JR.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: Oberhoffen, France, 12 February 1945. Entered service at: Blaine, Ohio. Birth: Lansing, Ohio. G.O. No.: 60, 25 July 1945. Citation: He led a squad in the night attack on Oberhoffen, France, where fierce house-to-house fighting took place. After clearing 1 building of opposition, he moved his men toward a second house from which heavy machinegun fire came. He courageously exposed himself to hostile bullets and, firing his submachine gun as he went, advanced steadily toward the enemy position until close enough to hurl grenades through a window, killing 3 Germans and wrecking their gun. His progress was stopped by heavy rifle and machinegun fire from another house. Sgt. Deleau dashed through the door with his gun blazing. Within, he captured 10 Germans. The squad then took up a position for the night and awaited daylight to resume the attack. At dawn of 2 February Sgt. Deleau pressed forward with his unit, killing 2 snipers as he advanced to a point where machinegun fire from a house barred the way. Despite vicious small-arms fire, Sgt. Deleau ran across an open area to reach the rear of the building, where he destroyed 1 machinegun and killed its 2 operators with a grenade. He worked to the front of the structure and located a second machinegun. Finding it impossible to toss a grenade into the house from his protected position, he fearlessly moved away from the building and was about to hurl his explosive when he was instantly killed by a burst from the gun he sought to knock out. With magnificent courage and daring aggressiveness, Sgt. Deleau cleared 4 well-defended houses of Germans, inflicted severe losses on the enemy and at the sacrifice of his own life aided his battalion to reach its objective with a minimum of casualties.
*LONG, CHARLES R.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company M, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Hoengsong, Korea, 12 February 1951. Entered service at: Kansas City, Mo. Born: 10 December 1923, Kansas City, Mo. G.O. No.: 18, 1 February 1952. Citation: Sgt. Long, a member of Company M, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations. When Company M, in a defensive perimeter on Hill 300, was viciously attacked by a numerically superior hostile force at approximately 0300 hours and ordered to withdraw, Sgt. Long, a forward observer for the mortar platoon, voluntarily remained at his post to provide cover by directing mortar fire on the enemy. Maintaining radio contact with his platoon, Sgt. Long coolly directed accurate mortar fire on the advancing foe. He continued firing his carbine and throwing handgrenades until his position was surrounded and he was mortally wounded. Sgt. Long’s inspirational, valorous action halted the onslaught, exacted a heavy toll of enemy casualties, and enabled his company to withdraw, reorganize, counterattack, and regain the hill strongpoint. His unflinching courage and noble self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit on himself and are in keeping with the honored traditions of the military service.