February 20, 2024 at 8:24 a.m.
Today In History

Today In History – February 20

February 20 is the 51st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar
John Glenn
John Glenn

There are many events that happened on this date in history. Here are just a few of them!

February 20 is the 51st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar; 314 days remain until the end of the year (315 in leap years).

EVENTS

1521 – Juan Ponce de León sets out from Spain for Florida with about 200 prospective colonists.

1547 – Edward VI of England is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey.

1685 – René-Robert Cavelier establishes Fort St. Louis at Matagorda Bay thus forming the basis for France's claim to Texas.

1792 – The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, is signed by United States President George Washington.

1798 – Louis-Alexandre Berthier removes Pope Pius VI from power.

1816 – Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville premieres at the Teatro Argentina in Rome.

1824 – William Buckland formally announces the name Megalosaurus, the first scientifically validly named non-avian dinosaur species.

1872 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York City.

1877 – Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake receives its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

1931 – The U.S. Congress approves the construction of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge by the state of California.

1933 – The U.S. Congress approves the Blaine Act to repeal federal Prohibition in the United States, sending the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution to state ratifying conventions for approval.

1933 – Adolf Hitler secretly meets with German industrialists to arrange for financing of the Nazi Party's upcoming election campaign.

1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.

1939 – Madison Square Garden Nazi rally: The largest ever pro-Nazi rally in United States history is convened in Madison Square Garden, New York City, with 20,000 members and sympathizers of the German American Bund present.

1942 – World War II: Lieutenant Edward O'Hare becomes America's first World War II flying ace.

1943 – World War II: American movie studio executives agree to allow the Office of War Information to censor movies.

1943 – The Saturday Evening Post publishes the first of Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms in support of United States President Franklin Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address theme of Four Freedoms.

1952 – Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League.

1956 – The United States Merchant Marine Academy becomes a permanent Service Academy.

1962 – Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes.

1965 – Ranger 8 crashes into the Moon after a successful mission of photographing possible landing sites for the Apollo program astronauts.

1971 – The United States Emergency Broadcast System is accidentally activated in an erroneous national alert.

1986 – The Soviet Union launches its Mir spacecraft. Remaining in orbit for 15 years, it is occupied for ten of those years.

1998 – American figure skater Tara Lipinski, at the age of 15, becomes the youngest Olympic figure skating gold-medalist at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

2003 – During a Great White concert in West Warwick, Rhode Island, a pyrotechnics display sets the Station nightclub ablaze, killing 100 and injuring over 200 others.

BIRTHS

1631 – Thomas Osborne, 1st Duke of Leeds, English politician, Treasurer of the Navy (d. 1712)

1633 – Jan de Baen, Dutch painter (d. 1702)

1726 – William Prescott, American colonel (d. 1795)

1756 – Angelica Schuyler Church, American socialite, sister-in-law to Alexander Hamilton (d. 1814)

1774 – Vicente Sebastián Pintado, Spanish cartographer, engineer, military officer and land surveyor of Spanish Louisiana and Spanish West Florida (d. 1829)

1848 – E. H. Harriman, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1909)

1870 – Jay Johnson Morrow, American engineer and politician, 3rd Governor of the Panama Canal Zone (d. 1937)

1898 – Enzo Ferrari, Italian motor racing driver and entrepreneur, founder of Scuderia Ferrari and Ferrari (d. 1988)

1899 – Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1992)

1901 – Louis Kahn, American architect, designed the Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Bangladesh Parliament Building (d. 1974)

1902 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (d. 1984)

1906 – Gale Gordon, American actor (d. 1995)

1924 – Gloria Vanderbilt, American actress, fashion designer, and socialite (d. 2019)

1925 – Robert Altman, American director and screenwriter (d. 2006)

1926 – Bob Richards, American Olympic track and field athlete (d. 2023)

1929 – Amanda Blake, American actress (d. 1989)

1937 – Nancy Wilson, American singer and actress (d. 2018)

1941 – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian singer-songwriter and producer

1942 – Phil Esposito, Canadian ice hockey player, coach, and manager

1942 – Mitch McConnell, American lawyer and politician

1946 – Brenda Blethyn, English actress

1946 – Sandy Duncan, American actress, singer, and dancer

1946 – J. Geils, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2017)

1951 – Edward Albert, American actor (d. 2006)

1953 – Poison Ivy, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer

1954 – Patty Hearst, American actress and author

1966 – Cindy Crawford, American model and businesswoman

1967 – Kurt Cobain, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1994)

1975 – Brian Littrell, American singer-songwriter and actor

1988 – Rihanna, Barbadian singer, songwriter and actress

2003 – Olivia Rodrigo, American actress and singer

DEATHS

1431 – Pope Martin V (b. 1368)

1762 – Tobias Mayer, German astronomer and academic (b. 1723)

1862 – William Wallace Lincoln, American son of Abraham Lincoln (b. 1850)

1871 – Paul Kane, Irish-Canadian painter (b. 1810)

1893 – P. G. T. Beauregard, American general (b. 1818)

1920 – Robert Peary, American admiral and explorer (b. 1856)

1936 – Max Schreck, German actor (b. 1879)

1961 – Percy Grainger, Australian-American pianist and composer (b. 1882)

1992 – Dick York, American actor (b. 1928)

1999 – Gene Siskel, American journalist and critic (b. 1946)

2001 – Rosemary DeCamp, American actress (b. 1910)

2005 – Sandra Dee, American actress (b. 1942)

2005 – John Raitt, American actor and singer (b. 1917)

2006 – Curt Gowdy, American sportscaster (b. 1919)



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