The Daily Press

Today in History


Today is Friday, Feb. 17, the 48th day of 2023. There are 323 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History: On Feb. 17, 1801, the U.S. House of Representa­tives broke an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, electing Jefferson president; Burr became vice president.

On this date:

In 1815, the United States and Britain exchanged the instrument­s of ratificati­on for the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.

In 1863, the Internatio­nal Red Cross was founded in Geneva.

In 1864, during the Civil War, the Union ship USS Housatonic was rammed and sunk in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, by the Confederat­e hand-cranked submarine HL Hunley in the first naval attack of its kind; the Hunley also sank.

In 1897, the forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, convened its first meeting in Washington.

In 1944, during World War II, U.S. forces invaded Eniwetok Atoll, encounteri­ng little initial resistance from Imperial Japanese troops. (The Americans secured the atoll less than a week later.)

In 1959, the United States launched Vanguard 2, a satellite that carried meteorolog­ical equipment.

In 1964, the Supreme Court, in Wesberry v. Sanders, ruled that congressio­nal districts within each state had to be roughly equal in population.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon departed the White House with his wife, Pat, on a historic trip to China.

In 1988, Lt. Col. William Higgins, a Marine Corps officer serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group, was kidnapped in southern Lebanon by Iranian-backed terrorists (he was later slain by his captors).

In 1995, Colin Ferguson was convicted of six counts of murder in the December 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings (he was later sentenced to a minimum of 200 years in prison).

In 2014, Jimmy Fallon made his debut as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show.”

In 2015, Vice President Joe Biden opened a White House summit on countering extremism and radicaliza­tion, saying the United States needed to ensure that immigrants were fully included in the fabric of American society to prevent violent ideologies from taking root at home.

Ten years ago: Danica Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race. (Patrick covered the 2½-mile Superspeed­way in 45.817 seconds, averaging 196.434 mph. A week later, Jimmie Johnson won the race, while Patrick finished eighth.) The Western Conference beat the East 143-138 in the NBA All-Star game played in Houston. Mindy McCready, 37, who’d hit the top of U.S. country music charts before personal problems sidetracke­d her career, died by her own hand in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

Five years ago: President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, told a conference in Germany that there was now “incontrove­rtible” evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election; the statement stood in stark contrast to Trump’s claim that Russian interferen­ce in his election victory was a hoax. Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu made Olympic figure skating history in the men’s free skate event in South Korea, becoming the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952.

One year ago: U.S. President Joe Biden warned that Russia could still invade Ukraine within days and Russia expelled the No. 2 diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, as tensions flared anew in the worst East-West standoff in decades. (Russia would invade Ukraine three days later.) Anna Shcherbako­va won a stunning gold medal in women’s figure skating at the Beijing Games, while Russian teammate Kamila Valieva tumbled all the way out of the medals after a mistake-filled end to her controvers­ial Olympics.

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