This Day in History - February 15

February 15

399 BC – Philosopher Socrates is sentenced to death by the city of Athens for corrupting the minds of the youth and for impiety

590 – The last great Sasanian King, Khosrau II, is crowned King of Persia

1564 – Italian astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei is born

1710 – Louis XV, King of France, is born

1726 – Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Clark is born

1763 – Austria, Prussia, and Saxony sign the Treaty of Hubertusburg, marking the end of the Indian War and Seven Years War

1764 – St. Louis, Missouri is founded as a French fur-trading post

1776 – Governor Francis Legge reports to British headquarters in London that traitors have written to American General George Washington and invited him to invade Nova Scotia

1781 – German philosopher and author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing dies

1797 – Piano maker Henry Steinway is born

1798 – First major fistfight occurs in Congress between Roger Griswold and Matthew Lyon

1804 – New Jersey becomes the last state to abolish slavery

1812 – Mountain man Wilson Hunt and his party run into the fur-trading post of Astoria, Oregon

1820 – Suffragette Susan Anthony is born

1835 – Union General Alexander Stewart Webb is born

1862 – Union General Ulysses Grant launches an assault on Fort Donelson, Tennessee

1869 – Charges of treason are dropped against Jefferson Davis

1874 – Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton is born

1879 – President Rutherford Hayes signs a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court

1882 – Actor John Barrymore is born

1898 – The US battleship Maine blows up in the Havana Harbor killing 268.  The event leads to many Western cowboys and gunfighters enlisting to fight in the Spanish-American War

1900 – The British threaten to use natives in the Boer War

1903 – Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his toy shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears, named after President Theodore Roosevelt with his permission.  These were the first Teddy bears ever to go on sale

1905 – Composer, arranger, and pianist Harold Arlen is born

1913 – The New York Armory Show opens, introducing Picasso, Duchamp, and Matisse to America

1915 – Indian soldiers launch the first large-scale mutiny of World War I in Singapore, killing 39 Europeans, both soldiers and civilians.  British soldiers executed 37 of the mutiny’s ringleaders

1925 – The London Zoo announces it will be installing lights to cheer up fogged-in animals

1928 – Prime Minister of the UK, H.H. Asquith dies

1933 – Giuseppe Zangara shoots at President-elect Franklin Roosevelt.  Roosevelt went unharmed by the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, was hit and died from his injuries and several others were wounded

1934 – US Congress passes the Civil Works Emergency Relief Act, setting aside funds for Federal Emergency Relief

1934 – Australian actor Graham Kennedy is born

1940 – Adolf Hitler warns that all British merchant ships will be considered warships

1942 – British forces in Singapore surrender to Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita

1943 – The Germans break through American Army lines at the Fanid-Sened Sector in Tunisia, North Africa

1944 – American bombers attack the Abbey of Monte Cassino in an effort to neutralize it as a German observation post in central Italy

1946 – Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrest 22 as Soviet spies

1950 – Mao Tse-tung and Joseph Stalin sign a mutual defense treaty in Moscow

1950 – Walt Disney’s Cinderella opens in theaters

1954 – Cartoonist Matt Groening is born

1957 – Andrei Gromyko replaces Dmitri Shepilov as the Soviet Foreign Minister

1961 – The entire eighteen members of the world champion US figure skating team are killed in an airplane crash in Belgium while on their way to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia

1965 – Canada’s maple leaf flag is raised for the first time

1965 – American singer, pianist, and television host Nat King Cole dies

1966 – French President Charles DeGaulle states that France will do all it can to help end the Vietnam War

1967 – 13 US helicopters are shot down in Vietnam

1970 – Defense attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass and three of the defendants in the trial of the Chicago Eight are sentenced to prison for contempt of court

1971 – The UK and Ireland decimalize their currencies

1974 – US gas stations threaten to close because of federal fuel policies

1980 – Playwright Lillian Hellman sues novelist Mary McCarthy for libel but lies before the trial, and the suit was dropped.  On a national talk show, McCarthy had called Hellman “a bad writer, overrated, a dishonest writer”

1984 – Broadway star Ethel Merman dies

1986 – Ferdinand Marcos wins a rigged presidential election in the Philippines

1988 – American Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman dies

1989 – More than 100,000 Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan

1996 – Supertanker, Sea Empress, runs aground near Wales, spilling 70,000 tons of crude oil for Texaco.  The hardest hit were several bird sanctuaries, and thousands of seabirds were killed

1998 – Dale Earnhardt, Sr. wins his first Daytona 500

2001 – The first draft of the human genome is published in the journal “Nature”

2003 – Millions of protesters demonstrate, around the world, against the threat of US war on Iraq

2005 – American journalist Samuel Francis dies

2012 – A prison fire in Comayagua, Honduras kills 360


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.

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