February 1st, 1960 – In Greensboro, North Carolina, four African American students sat down and ordered coffee at a lunch counter inside a Woolworth’s store. They were refused service, but didn’t leave. They stayed all day, waiting to be served. This was repeated over the next few days, with protests spreading to other southern states. Eventually, over 1,600 people were arrested for participating in these famous Civil Rights Movement sit-ins.
February 2nd, 1848 – The war between the United States and Mexico ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In exchange for 15 million dollars, the U.S. acquired land that would make up present day California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas.
February 2nd, 1882 – Irish novelist and poet James Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland. His works include: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegan’s Wake.
February 3rd, 1870 – The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the right of citizens to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
February 3rd, 1913 – The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting Congress the authority to collect income taxes.
February 4th, 1861 – Apache Chief Cochise was arrested in Arizona by the U.S. Army for raiding a ranch. Cochise then escaped and declared war, beginning the period known as the Apache Wars, which lasted 25 years.
February 5th, 1937 – Silent movie star Charlie Chaplin’s first “talkie,” Modern Times was released.
February 6th, 1911 – Ronald Reagan, the 40th U.S. President, was born in Tampico, Illinois. Reagan spent 30 years as an entertainer in radio, film, and television before becoming governor of California in 1966. He was elected to the White House in 1980.
February 7th, 1812 – British novelist Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England. He often wrote about social inequalities in his class works including: David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby. He wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843, which continues to be popular even today.
February 8th, 1910 – The Boy Scouts of America was founded by William Boyce in Washington D.C.
February 9th, 1773 – William Henry Harrison, the 9th U.S. President, was born in Berkeley, Virginia. He took office on March 4, 1841, but died 32 days later after developing pneumonia from the cold weather during his inauguration ceremony.
February 10th, 1942 – The first Medal of Honor during World War II was awarded to 2nd Lt. Alexander Nininger (posthumously) for heroism during the Battle of Bataan.
February 11th, 1847 – American inventor Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. In his lifetime he acquired over 1,200 patents, including the incandescent bulb, phonograph, and movie camera.
February 12th, 1809 – Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President, was born in Hardin County, Kentucky. He led the nation through the tumultuous Civil War, freed the slaves, composed the Gettysburg Address, and created the American Thanksgiving holiday.
February 13th, 1945 – During World War II in Europe, British and American planes began bombing raids on Dresden, Germany. A four-day firestorm erupted and engulfed the historic city, killing an estimated 135,000 German civilians.
February 14th, 1929 – The St. Valentine’s Day massacre occurred in Chicago when seven members of a rival gang were gunned down by five of Al Capone’s mobsters posing as police.
February 15th, 1898 – In Havana, the U.S. Battleship Maine was blown up while anchored and sank, losing 260 crew members. The incident inflamed public opinion in the U.S., resulting in the declaration of war against Spain on April 25, 1898 amid cries of “Remember the Maine!”
February 17th, 1909 – Apache Chief Geronimo died while in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He had led a small group of warriors on raids throughout Arizona and New Mexico. Caught once, he escaped. The U.S. Army then sent 5,000 men to recapture him.
February 18th, 1977 – The space shuttle Enterprise went on its maiden “flight” sitting on top of a Boeing 747.
February 19th, 1942 – Internment of Japanese Americans began after President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order requiring those living on the Pacific coast to report for relocation. They had to shut down their businesses, sell their property, leave school, and move inland to relocation centers.
February 20th, 1962 – Astronaut John Glenn became the first American launched into orbit. He traveled aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft. He reached an altitude of 162 miles and completed three orbits in a flight lasting just under five hours.
February 21st, 1965 – Malcolm X was shot and killed while delivering a speech in a ballroom in New York City. Malcolm X was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist and was influential in the Civil Rights movement.
February 22nd, 1732 – George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He served as commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and became the first U.S. President.
February 23rd, 1868 – African American educator and leader, W.E.B. Du Bois, was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
February 24th, 1867 – The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. The vote followed bitter opposition by the Radical Republicans in Congress toward Johnson’s reconstruction policies in the South. However, the impeachment failed in the Senate by just one vote.
February 25th, 1950 – Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar & Imogene Coca premiered on NBC. Writers included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Woody Allen.
February 26th, 1846 – American frontiersman “Buffalo Bill” Cody was born in Scott County, Indiana. He became world famous through his Wild West show, which traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe for 30 years.
February 27th, 1950 – The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting the president to two terms or a maximum of ten years in office.
February 28th, 1944 – NATO conducted its first combat action in its 45-year history as four Bosnian Serb jets were shot down by American fighters in a no-fly zone.
February 29th, 1940 – Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Oscar. She won Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.