February 20

1815, the USS Constitution fought two British ships, the Cyane and the Levant, capturing them both.

1872, in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened.

1944, after five days of an amphibious assault, American forces take the atoll islands of Eniwetok and Engebi, whose spelling was changed to “Enewetak” in 1974. The atoll had a landing strip built on it and was a major forward naval base for the U.S. Navy during the summer of 1944.

1972, the Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 landed on the moon. It returned five days later with soil samples.

1985, Minolta released the Maxxum 7000, the word’s first auto-focus SLR camera — the mind of Minolta.

2012, President’s Day is observed also known as Washington’s Birthday. The federal holiday is observed on the third Monday of February. In Virginia, it is officially known as “George Washington Day”. Five Canadian provinces also observe a holiday called “Family Day”, due to close economic ties with the U.S. It is observed on the same day as President’s Day. Congress originally initiated the observance in 1880, and was called, “Washington’s Birthday.”

February 21

1885, the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. is dedicated yet not open to the public until 1889.

1947, Edwin Land demonstrated the first instant camera, called the Polaroid Land Camera, to a group of photography enthusiasts in New York City. His camera was capable of making a black and white picture in about sixty seconds.

February 22

1732, George Washington, first President of the United States is born. His birthday became a federal holiday which is observed on the third Monday of the month; oddly, never landing on the 22nd.

1819, Spain ceded Florida to the United States under terms of the Adams Onis Treaty. The treaty also established a border between the two nations of the U.S. and the “Viceroyalty of New Spain”, that land occupying Texas to California. It also settled the dispute of a boundary along the Sabine River in Texas and claims of access through the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Disputes arose due to the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase from France and its undeclared boundaries which Spain argued about.

1889, President Grant signed legislation admitting Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana to the Union.

1949, in Yukon, Oklahoma, farmer Bill Mach’s six year old hereford cow, Grady, got stuck in a silo. It took three days to extract the cow but in the meantime she became the center of attention for the nation as, Time and Life magazines and several newspapers from around the country came to Oklahoma to take pictures and get the scoop on the cow that was stuck in a silo. Afterwards, the cow lived until 1961 and the farmer had a sign on Route 66 advertising “Grady the Cow” as a roadside attraction. There was even a children’s story book published about the incident.

February 23

1574, in France, the fifth “War of Religion” began, lasting into 1576. It may also be referred to as the “5th Holy War”. These wars were between Catholics and Huguenots. The edict of Nantes 1598 brought some rest between the warring factions.

1942, Japanese submarine I-17 fires shells off the coast of Ellwood, California, hitting a ranch. Shells also flew over the Wheeler Inn. The targets were the Ellwood oil field and derricks. One derrick was destroyed near Ellwood Pier. Between 12 and 20 5.5 inch rounds were fired. Submarines also attacked Fort Stevens on the coast of Astoria, Oregon, in June 1942.

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

1945, five Marines from the 5th Division and one Navy corpsman raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi. Photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the event and his photograph won a Pulitzer prize, becoming the most famous and reproduced photo in history.

1945, Manila is liberated by combine forces of Filipinos and Americans. The 11th Airborne Division freed captives of the Los Baños internment camp.

1991, ground assault began in the first Gulf War as troops in Saudi Arabia entered Iraq. Withdrawal and surrender occurred 100 hours after the ground invasion began.

February 24

1839, at the age of 25, William Otis received a patent for the first steam shovel. It was mounted on a train car. William was a cousin of Elisha Otis, who patented the elevator, or a form of. William had invented a steam-powered excavator at the age of 22. He only lived two months after his 26th birthday, dying in November, nine months after receiving the steam shovel patent. His steam shovel was used on building the railroads between Norwich and Worcester.

1917, the intercepted “Zimmerman telegram” is shown to U.S. ambassador to Britain, Walter H. Page. The message was for Mexico, from Germany; that if Mexico would declare war on the U.S., then  Germany would give to Mexico Texas and the southwestern states!

February 25

1793, President George Washington held his first cabinet meeting in his own home.

1947, the first Volkswagen Beetle was brought into the U.S. It was purchased at the Frankfurt U.S. Army Post Exchange and shipped over from Bremerhaven to New York.

1986, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos fled the Philippines after the election he tried to rig was discovered. Corazon Aquino, wife of Marcos’ assassinated rival, declared herself the winner and the people put their support in favor of her.

February 26

1919, the Grand Canyon is established as a National Park.

1929, the Grand Tetons are established as a National Park.

1942, the “Battle over Los Angeles” occurred when an unidentified slow-moving object was spotted flying over LA. Over 1400 rounds of ammunition are fired but nothing is shot down. Blackouts are enforced from this day forward over Southern California.

February 27

1879, Constantine Fahlberg discovered saccharin.

1927, for the second consecutive Sunday, golfers in South Carolina are arrested for breaking the Sabbath.

February 28

1861, the Colorado Territory was officially incorporated and defined, taking sections of land from three surrounding territories: Utah, Nebraska, and Kansas.


1885, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) is incorporated in New York State as a subsidiary of American Bell Telephone.

1947, the U.S. grants France a military base in Casablanca.

February 29

1916, child labor laws in South Carolina take effect, changing the minimum age for factory workers from 12 to 14 years old.

1944, the Admiralty Islands were assaulted in Operation Brewer, led by General MacArthur.

1972, Hank Aaron became the first player in major league baseball to sign a contract for $200,000.