A year that is evenly divisible by 100 is not a leap year unless it also is evenly divisible by 400. Explanation: The time required for Earth to make one lap around the sun — to go from vernal equinox to vernal equinox — is approximately 365.2422 days. Because the period of 365 days that our calendar assigns to the basic year falls approximately 0.2422 of a day short of the time it actually takes to orbit the sun, the calendar adds one day to every fourth year. This quadrennial “leap year” causes the average duration of a year to be approximately 365.2500 days. Because this quadrennial adjustment overshoots its goal by approximately 0.0078 of one day, the calendar “skips” the quadrennial adjustment at the turn of each century. This centennial “re-adjustment” causes the average duration of a year — over the long run — to be approximately 365.2400 days. Because this centennial readjustment overshoots its goal by approximately 0.0022 of one day, the calendar “un-skips” the centennial re-adjustment once every four centuries. This quadricentennial “re-re-adjustment” causes the average duration of a year — over the very long run — to be approximately 365.2425 days. All of this has the effect of reducing the difference between our calendar and our actual orbit around the sun to approximately 0.0003 of a day — about 26 seconds.
45 BC – The first Leap Day was recognized by proclamation of Julius Caesar. Under the old Roman calendar the last day of February was the last day of the year.
1504 – Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew.
1704 – Deerfield, a frontier settlement in western Massachusetts, is attacked by a French and Native American force. Some 100 men, women, and children were massacred as the town was burned to the ground. The Deerfield raid was the bloodiest event of Queen Anne’s War, a conflict known to American historians as the second of the French and Indian Wars. The frontier conflict, named after the English monarch at the time, was to France and England a rather unimportant aspect of the War of the Spanish Succession. To settlers in America, however, the rivalry of the two powers in the colonies was a serious concern, as the fighting meant not only raids by the French or the British but also the horrors of Indian tribal warfare. With the signing of the Peace of Utrecht in 1714, peace returned to the frontier. Thirty years later, it would be broken by the War of Austrian Succession, the third of the French and Indian Wars.
1796 – After Great Britain has accepted the Senate’s amendment of Jay’s Treaty, President Washington declares the treaty in effect. This diplomatic move brings France and the US to the brink of war.
1841 – John Philip Holland (b.1840), inventor of the modern submarine, was born in Liscannor, County Clare, into a family that had survived the Great Potato Famine. Following his immigration to America in 1873, Holland settled in Paterson, New Jersey where he taught school and, with financial backing from the Irish Fenian Society, began developing his first submarine. In 1881, Holland launched the Fenian Ram, a 31-foot-long submersible powered by a 15-horsepower internal combustion engine. With Holland at the controls, the Ram dived 64 feet beneath New York Harbor that summer, only to be seized by the Fenians when they lost interest in the project. In 1895, the J.P. Holland Torpedo Boat Company, won a contract from the U.S. Navy to build a submarine. After one discouraging failure, the second submarine, the Holland VI, passed her sea trials and was purchased by the U.S. Navy on April 11, 1900 for $150,000.
1864 – Lt. William B. Cushing led a landing party from the USS Monticello to Smithville, NC, in an attempt to capture Confederate Brig. Gen. Louis Hebert, only to discover that Hebert and his men had already moved on Wilmington.
1864 – Union General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry raiders split into two wings on their way south to Richmond. Colonel Ulrich Dahlgren and 500 troopers swung out further west as Kilpatrick and 3,000 men rode on to the outskirts of Richmond. The raid stalled there, and Dahlgren was killed in an ambush. The raid was part of a plan to free 15,000 Union soldiers held near Richmond and spread word of President Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which allowed a pardon and restoration of property for Confederates willing to cease the rebellion. Kilpatrick left the main Union army at Stevensburg, Virginia, on February 28 and crossed the Rappahannock River. On February 29, Kilpatrick split with the 21-year-old Dahlgren, one of the youngest colonels in the Union army. The weather turned bad as the detachments separated. Rain turned to sleet, and the riders had to battle icy branches and cold, inky blackness as night fell. Dahlgren rode west and picked up a guide, a black youth named Martin Robinson. Robinson professed to know of a crossing of the James River west of Richmond. When they arrived at the spot, there was no way across the swollen river. Dahlgren flew into a rage and ordered Robinson hung. On March 1, Dahlgren and 200 men were ambushed and the young colonel was killed. The Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid was a failure for the Union. Some 340 men and 1,000 horses were lost, few Confederates paid attention to the copies of the amnesty proclamation that were left by the cavalry, and no Union prisoners were freed. The raid was the last fighting until General Ulysses S. Grant began his epic campaign in May.
1892 – St. Petersburg, Florida, in Pinellas County, is incorporated. The city is located on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is connected to mainland Florida to the north; with the city of Tampa to the east by causeways and bridges across Tampa Bay; and to Bradenton in the south by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (Interstate 275), which traverses the mouth of the bay. It is also served by Interstates 175 and 375, which branch off I-275 into the southern and northern areas of downtown respectively. The Gandy Bridge, conceived by George Gandy and opened in 1924, was the first causeway to be built across Tampa Bay, connecting St. Petersburg and Tampa cities without a circuitous 43-mile (69 km) trip around the bay through Oldsmar.
1904 – President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a seven-member commission to hasten completion of the Panama Canal.
1916 – The German fleet is given orders to attack armed merchant shipping without warning.
1936 – The Second Neutrality Act is passed, extending the act of 1935 to May 1, 1937 but adding a prohibition against granting any US loans or credits to belligerents.
1944 – On Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands, 1000 men from the US 5th Cavalry Regiment (General Chase) land at Hyane Harbor. General MacArthur and Admiral Kinkaid, commanding the US 7th Fleet, are present offshore and decide to convert the landings into a full-scale occupation. Japanese counterattacks during the night are defeated.
1944 – German forces continue limited attacks on the Anzio beachhead; there is a heavy artillery bombardment. Poor weather prevents a full-scale effort.
1944 – Over one billion dollars in estimated profit was made by American black marketeers during 1943, announced national Office of Price Administration director Chester Bowles. Black market goods are bought or sold at prices or in amounts above the legal limits set by the government in times of shortage or conservation. Rationing and fixed prices during World War II led to a rise in black market sales in the U.S., especially with meat, sugar, tires, and gasoline. While rationing ended with the war, scarcities in automobiles and building supplies kept the black market going strong for years to follow.
1952 – Brigadier General Francis T. Dodd, the newly-appointed commandant for POW camp Koje-do, was warned that many of the compounds might “be controlled by the violent leadership of Communists or anti-Communist groups.” He was told “this subversive control is extremely dangerous and can result in further embarrassment to the” United Nations Command. Leaders were worried that rioting in the camps would undermine armistice negotiations.
1952 – Owen Lattimore, one of the more famous figures of the “Red Scare” in the United States during the 1950s, testifies before a Senate subcommittee that he might have been inaccurate in some of his previous testimony. Lattimore’s admissions resulted in his being charged with perjury and years of legal wrangling. Lattimore was a well-known scholar of Chinese history and politics during the 1930s. He taught at Johns Hopkins University and also worked with the Institute of Pacific Relations, a research institute dedicated to the study of Asia and U.S.-Asian relations. During World War II, he served as an advisor to the Roosevelt administration on Chinese affairs. His research led him to conclude that the Nationalist leader in China, Chiang Kai-Shek, headed a corrupt and undemocratic government. He publicly aired these views in 1945 when he published his book, Solution in Asia, in which he called on Chiang to institute a major reform program in China. In the highly charged Cold War atmosphere of the postwar period, anticommunist crusaders in the United States, such as Senator Joseph McCarthy, quickly construed Lattimore’s criticisms of the Chiang government as support for Mao Zedong’s communist revolution in China. McCarthy charged in 1950 that Lattimore was a “chief Soviet espionage agent,” and took testimony from two former U.S. Communist Party officials to that effect. A bipartisan congressional committee held hearings on the matter and cleared Lattimore of all charges, but this did not end the persecution of Lattimore. In 1951-1952, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee reopened the case against the scholar. The subcommittee hearings focused on Lattimore’s work with the Institute of Pacific Relations, which had been identified by the FBI as a subversive organization. Zeroing in on minor inconsistencies in his 1950 testimony (such as whether he had ever “handled” another person’s mail during his time at the Institute), the subcommittee quickly decided that Lattimore had perjured himself and he was indicted by a grand jury. For the next few years, Lattimore fought a long and costly legal battle to clear himself of the charges. Eventually, all charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence and the waning of McCarthy’s power and public interest in his witchhunts. Lattimore’s case was just one of many during the 1950s in which individuals were hounded and harassed because their views sometimes diverged from the Cold War consensus then taking shape. Other scholars, and a number of State Department officials, were persecuted merely for voicing criticism of the Chiang regime in China. Particularly after the fall of the Chiang government to Mao’s communist revolution in 1949, individuals such as Lattimore became handy scapegoats for people looking to place blame for the “loss” of China.
1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson revealed that the U.S. secretly developed the Lockheed A-11 jet fighter.
1968 – The President’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders releases its report, condemning racism as the primary cause of the recent surge of riots. The report, which declared that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white–separate and unequal,” called for expanded aid to African American communities in order to prevent further racial violence and polarization. Unless drastic and costly remedies were undertaken at once, the report said, there would be a “continuing polarization of the American community and, ultimately, the destruction of basic democratic values.” The report identified more than 150 riots or major disorders between 1965 and 1968 and blamed “white racism” for sparking the violence–not a conspiracy by African American political groups as some claimed. Statistics for 1967 alone included 83 people killed and 1,800 injured–the majority of them African Americans–and property valued at more than $100 million damaged or destroyed. The 11-member commission, headed by Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, was appointed by President Johnson in July 1967 to uncover the causes of urban riots and recommend solutions.
1968 – Robert McNamara resigned as US Secretary of Defense after the Tet disaster. He was succeeded by Clark Clifford for 9 months who worked to reverse US policy in Vietnam.
2004 – Haiti’s Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned and flew into exile. The capital fell into chaos, and the US said international peacekeepers, including Americans, would be deployed soon. Boniface Alexandre, the Supreme Court Justice, took over as interim president. PM Yvon Neptune continued as head of the government. Guy Philippe (36), head of a band of former exiled soldiers, said his forces would stop fighting.
2008 – The Presidency Council of Iraq approves the execution of Saddam Hussein’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, widely known as “Chemical Ali”, for his role in the Al-Anfal Campaign against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s.
HISTORY OF LEAP YEAR Roman Emperor Julius Caesar took the first stab at fixing the calendar when dates were no longer in sync with the seasons. First, he created one extra-long year – 445 days – to get things back on track. He followed that with a pattern of three 365-day years and one 366-day year – leap year. Fifteen centuries later, though, the calendar was off-kilter again. It turns out that Caesar’s plan created three extra leap years every 400 years. So in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII came up with a way to fix the problem. That year, the calendar jumped from October 4 to October 15. Gregory also set up a new rule to get rid of those three extra leap years. Under the Gregorian calendar, only century years divisible by 400 are leap years. One in 1,461 people are “Leapies,” born on Leap Year Day. There are approximately 200,000 people in the United States with Leap Year Day birthdays and 4 million in the world.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken this Day
None this day.