On This Day

Historical Events on February 29

Historic Event

1504 Christopher Columbus uses a lunar eclipse to frighten hostile Jamaican Indians

Salem Witch Trials

1692 First people are accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts - Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba, a West Indian slave

  • 1696 English ex-premier Earl Danby accused of corruption
  • 1704 French & Indians attack Deerfield, Massachusetts, kill 50, abduct 100
  • 1712 February 29 is followed by February 30 in Sweden, in a move to abolish the Swedish calendar for a return to the Old style.
  • 1720 Queen Ulrica Eleonora of Sweden resigns

Historic Event

1768 Polish nobleman Casimir Pulaski joins the Bar Confederation to defend the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against Russian influence

Historic Event

1784 Marquis de Sade transferred from Vincennes fortress to the Bastille

  • 1796 Jay's Treaty proclaimed, settles some differences with England

Historic Event

1832 Charles Darwin walks through the tropical forests of Bahia in Brazil, describing the experience as being in "transports of pleasure"

  • 1836 Giacomo Meyerbeers opera "Les Huguenots," premieres in Paris
  • 1848 The Principality of Neuchâtel declares itself independent of Prussia
  • 1856 Hostilities in Russo-Turkish War cease

Historic Event

1868 1st British government of Benjamin Disraeli forms

  • 1880 Gotthard railway tunnel between Switzerland & Italy completed
  • 1892 Britain & US sign treaty on seal hunting in Bering Sea
  • 1892 St. Petersburg, Florida is incorporated

Historic Event

1904 Theodore Roosevelt, appoints 7-man Panama Canal Commission to proceed with completing a canal at the Isthmus

  • 1908 Dutch scientists produce solid helium
  • 1920 Trying to maintain independence from Germany and the USSR, Czechoslovakia adopts a constitution
  • 1932 Failed coup attempt by fascist Lapua Movement in Finland
  • 1932 TIME magazine features eccentric American politician William "Alfalfa" Murray on its cover after Murray stated his intention to run for President of the United States.

Historic Event

1936 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs 2nd Neutrality Act

  • 1940 Frederic from G & S "Pirates of Penzance" finally released by pirate

Film & TV History

1940 Hattie McDaniel becomes 1st African American woman to win an Oscar for "Gone With The Wind"

Academy Awards

1940 12th Academy Awards: "Gone With The Wind" wins eight Oscars, Robert Donat & Vivien Leigh also win

  • 1940 Finland initiates Winter War peace negotiations

Golf Tournament

1940 American golfer Jimmy Demaret wins his third PGA Tour event within an 8-day span, taking the St. Petersburg Open by 1 stroke from Byron Nelson

  • 1940 Detroit's Cecil "Tiny" Thompson becomes first goaltender in NHL history to play 40 (or more) games for 12 straight seasons; milestone comes in a 3-1 Red Wings loss at Toronto
  • 1944 5 leaders of Indonesia Communist Party sentenced to death
  • 1944 US troop land on Los Negros, Admiralty Islands

Historic Event

1944 Karol Wojtyla, future Pope John Paul II, is run down and injured by a Nazi truck in Krakow

  • 1948 Stern-group bomb on Cairo-Haifa train kills 27 British soldiers
  • 1948 Lawson Little earns his first tournament victory since his US Navy discharge capturing the St. Petersburg Open by 3 strokes over Bobby Locke; last golfer to win a PGA Tour event on Leap Year Day
  • 1952 Ice Dance Championship at Paris France won by Westwood & Demmy of Great Britain
  • 1952 Ice Pairs Championship at Paris won by Ria Falk & Paul Falk of West Germany
  • 1952 Ladies Figure Skating Champ in Paris won by Jacqueline du Bief of France
  • 1952 Dick Button leads an unprecedented American sweep when he wins World Men's Figure Skating Championship in Paris; beats compatriots James Grogan and Hayes Alan Jenkins for his 5th straight world title
  • 1952 The island of Heligoland is restored to German authority.
  • 1956 Islamic Republic forms in Pakistan

Historic Event

1956 US President Eisenhower announces he will seek a 2nd term

Sports History

1956 MLB's Cleveland Indians franchise is sold for nearly $4m; former player and the team’s general manager Hank Greenberg is part of the new ownership group

Theater Premiere

1960 1st Playboy Club, featuring bunnies, opens in Chicago

  • 1960 Agadir earthquake in Morocco kills a third of the population (12,000-15,000)

Historic Event

1960 JFK makes "missile gap" the presidential campaign issue

  • 1960 KRET TV channel 23 in Richardson, TX (PBS) begins broadcasting
  • 1964 "Rugantino" closes at Mark Hellinger Theater NYC after 28 performances

Historic Event

1964 LBJ reveals the US has secretly developed the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, an advanced, long‐range high-speed and high-altitude reconnaissance airplane [1]

  • 1964 NC high school basketball teams play to 56-54 score in 13 overtime

Sports History

1964 Cincinnati's Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson combine for a rare 40-40 performance as the Royals beat host Philadelphia 76ers, 117-114; NBA MVP Robertson has 43 points; Rookie of the Year Lucas, 40 rebounds

  • 1964 Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser records the fastest 100m freestyle of her brilliant career; smashes her own world record 58.9s in Sydney; goes on to win her 3rd straight gold in the event at the Tokyo Olympics
  • 1968 Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" wins Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the first rock LP to do so

Music Premiere

1968 Howard Hanson's 6th Symphony, premieres

  • 1968 US end regular flights with nuclear bombs
  • 1968 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
  • 1968 National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (Kerner Comm) reports against racism & demands aid given to blacks

Baseball Record

1972 Future Baseball Hall of Fame right fielder Hank Aaron becomes first player to earn $200,000 average annual salary; signs 3-year deal with Atlanta Braves after one of his best seasons – .327 average, 47 HRs and 118 RBIs

  • 1972 Jack Anderson discloses Dita Beard (ITT) memo indicating antitrust charges were dropped for $400,000 contribution to Republican Party
  • 1976 ABC-TV broadcasts premiere of 1965's hit "The Sound of Music"

Sports History

1976 American driver Richard Petty wins the only Winston Cup race run on Leap Day, taking the Carolina 500 at Rockingham by 2 laps over Darrell Waltrip

NHL Record

1980 Future Hockey Hall of Fame right wing Gordie Howe scores in the 3rd period to become first NHL player to score 800 career goals as Hartford Whalers beat St. Louis Blues, 3-0 at Springfield Civic Center

  • 1980 Michael Bracey ends 59 h 55 m trapped in an elevator, England

Historic Event

1984 Pierre Trudeau announces he is stepping down after 15 years as Canadian Prime Minister

  • 1984 Swedish center Patrik Sundström scores a goal and adds 6 assists as Vancouver Canucks beat the Penguins 9-5 in Pittsburgh; just the 3rd player in NHL history to record 6 assists in a road game
  • 1988 KWK-FM in St Louis Missouri changes call letters to WKBG
  • 1988 New Zealand cricket batsman Mark Greatbatch scores an unbeaten 107 on debut to rescue a draw in 2nd Test v England at Eden Park, Auckland

Historic Event

1988 NYC Mayor Koch calls Reagan a "WIMP" in the war on drugs

Historic Event

1988 Nazi document implicates Kurt Waldheim in WWII deportations

Sports History

1992 Boston’s Ray Bourque becomes just the 3rd defenseman in NHL history to score 1,000 career points with a goal and 2 assists in the Bruins' 5-5 tie with Washington Capitals at Boston Garden

  • 1996 Chasing Kenya's 166, the West Indies are dismissed for a dismal 93 in Cricket World Cup at Pune, India; spinner Maurice Odumbe takes 3/15 and fast bowler Rajab Ali 3/17 for Kenya
  • 1996 Russian spacecraft Soyuz TM-23 returning from Mir space station
  • 1996 Serb forces withdraw from Sarajevo, ending the siege after 1,425 days, the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare

Album Release

2000 American rock band Steely Dan releases "Two Against Nature", their eighth studio album, and first in 20 years; it wins four Grammy Awards.

  • 2004 Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigns as President of Haiti following popular rebel uprising.
  • 2020 Watford beats Liverpool, 3-0 at Vicarage Road; first Reds loss since Manchester City January 2019; ends joint-longest winning streak (18) and second longest unbeaten run (44) in English top-flight football history
  • 2020 US and Taliban sign deal to end 18-year war in Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar. US and NATO allies will withdraw their troops after 14 months if deal kept.