Like any day of every year, lots of things happened on February 14. The main difference between every other day is that this day is meant to be significant and romantic. So, what significant or romantic things happened today?
On February 14 of the year…
270 – Saint Valentine died.
Interestingly, the St. Valentine who inspired the day’s festivities might have been two men. Also, there are about a dozen St. Valentines – plus a pope, and Geoffrey Chaucer may have more to do with what the day looks like than any of the saints… or the pope.
1014 – Pope Benedict VIII crowned Henry II the Holy Roman Emperor, also known as Saint Henry the Exuberant.
1076 – Pope Gregory VII excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV… for the first time.
1349 – 900 Jews were burned alive after being blamed for the spread of the plague in Strasburg in what is consider one of the first modern pogroms.
1400 – England’s King Richard II died from starvation while in captivity.
1452 – Italian ruler Pandolfo Petrucci was born.
He came to power through the death of his brother, and proceeded to marry very well. With power and money came more power and more money. He took the side of Pisa over Florence in war, which turned against him when Pope Julius II forced him to make peace. He continued to plot against the French until his death in 1512, which has led to the lack of decent, traditional pizza throughout France.
1468 – German Mathematician Johann Werner was born.
After becoming a parish priest, Werner focused his time on trigonometry, astrology, and instrument making. He spent 24 days tracking a comet in 1500, leading to the briefly held belief that a cross staff could be used to determine longitude. He is most often remembered for Werner’s Formulas which involve sine and cosine functions that drive high schools crazy when they have to memorize them.
1556 – English Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was declared a heretic for supporting King Henry VIII’s petition to annul his first marriage. History buffs will remember who that turned out for Henry.
1602 – Italian opera composer Francesco Cavalli was born.
Cavalli was a rock star before rock was born. He started as an opera singer, eventually becoming a composer in the rising genre of music for the masses. His trick was to compose for smaller orchestras to accommodate limited space in public opera houses.
1621 – Sybilla Schwartz, German Baroque poet, was born.
The daughter of the mayor of Greifswald, Schwartz lived during the 30 Years’ War – a conflict fought in Central Europe from 1618 to 1648. She died 10 years before the war did, at the age of 17. Not surprisingly, she is one of the few female poets remembered from that time because, well, sexism. Her most noted poem begins:
Is love a fire? Can love melt iron?
Am I like fire and full of the pain of love?
Out of what is the heart of my lover?
If it were made of iron then I could melt it with my fire.
1670 – Roman Catholic Emperor Leopold I chased the Jews out of Vienna.
1747 – Astronomer James Bradley presented his discovery of the wobbling motion of the Earth.
1760 – African American minister Richard Allen was born into slavery.
Eventually offered the option to work more and buy his freedom, Richard Allen began his new life as a free man in 1780. He became a minister, and started the African Methodist Episcopal Church – the first independent Black church in the U.S. Allen’s favorite themes at his pulpit were abolition, colonization, education, and temperance. His preferred method of preaching was off-the-cuff and demanded action.
1803 – Chief Justice John Marshall declared that any act of congress that conflicts with the Constitution is void, thereby inventing the idea of something being “unconstitutional.”
1819 – American newspaper man Christopher Latham Sholes was born.
If it weren’t for Sholes, QWERTY wouldn’t be a word. Along with three other men, he invented the first typewriter in the U.S. and designed the “optimum” typing tool – the keyboard. He went on to be a politician, but let’s all give him a hats off for that wondrous device that keeps us from having to write longhand.
1831 – Mexican revolutionary hero and second president of Mexico Vicente Guerrero died by firing squad.
1831 – English inventor Henry Maudslay died.
Maudslay was a machine tool innovator and is considered the founding father of machine tool technology. He is also known as one of the founders of the Industrial Revolution.
1838 – American inventor Margaret E. Knight was born.
Born in Maine, Knight lost her father at an early age, requiring her siblings and herself to leave school early to help support the family. She worked in a cotton mill where she witnessed another worker getting stabbed by a shuttle; She invented a device to improve safety, which was adopted by other mills. Later known as the “Female Edison” and the “most famous 19th century inventor,” Knight is best known for inventing the flat-bottomed grocery bag and held a patent for an internal combustion engine. It is probably needless to say, but she had to fight to patent her inventions under her own name… and won.
1844 – John C. Fremont discovered Lake Tahoe.
1849 – James Polk became the first sitting president to be photographed.
1855 – Texas was finally linked to the rest of the U.S. via telegraph.
1859 – Oregon became the 33rd state.
1859 – George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., American Engineer, was born in Illinois and named after a well-known Presbyterian minister. Ferris is the civil engineer who invented that large wheel-like structure which make adults and children alike shiver in fear.
1867 – Morehouse College was founded.
A private Black men’s liberal arts college, Morehouse was founded in response to the liberation of slaves following the Civil War.
1876 – Alexander Graham Bell applied for the patent for the telephone. So did Elisha Gray. The Supreme Court later ruled that Bell is the rightful inventor.
1881 – Welsh poet William John Gruffydd was born in Gorffwysfa, Bethel, in the parish of Llanddeinolen. Gruffydd came to prominence as a poet at the National Eisteddfod held at Pwilheli in 1955. Gruffydd is still studied today, most notably in “Y flodeugerdd Gymraeg.” No, we cannot say any of those words either.
1883 – New Jersey legalized labor unions.
1884 – Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, first wife of Teddy Roosevelt, died of Bright’s Disease, at age 22.
1891 – William Tecumseh Sherman died.
Best known for serving as a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, what many may not know is that he has a tank named after him.
1894 – American comedian Benjamin Kubelski aka Jack Benny was born.
Benny began in vaudeville and went on to radio and television fame. His style of comedy influenced the traditional sitcom ever since, most notably because of what is known as a “deadpan” delivery.
1894 – mathematician Eugène Charles Catalan died.
Catalan’s focus was on continued fractions, descriptive geometry, number theory, and combinatorics – an area of math which counts on counting.
1895 – “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde opened in London.
1899 – U.S. Congress began using voting machines.
1903 – Carl Jung married Emma Rauschenbach; people called them crazy.
1912 – Arizona admitted as 48th state; Oregon stuck its tongue out facing southeast and cried, “Copycat!”
1912 – Oliver Wendell Harrington, African-American cartoonist, was born in New York.
Harrington began cartooning to voice his frustrations with the racism of the U.S. He was an important part of the Harlem Renaissance, and in 1935 created a single panel strip called Dark Laughter which had a home at the Amsterdam News.
1913 – James Riddle Hoffa was born.
Jimmy Hoffa was an American labor union leader who served as the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1957 to 1971. He became involved with organized crime during his Teamster years and was convicted of several “mob like” crimes in 1964. Hoffa is best known, however, for his disappearance on July 30, 1975.
1917 – Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry, Herbert A. Hauptman was born.
1919 – Albert Einstein divorced Mileva Maric.
1920 – The League of Women Voters formed in Chicago.
1921 – American journalist, Hugh Downs was born.
1924 – The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company became International Business Machines (IBM).
1929 – Vic Morrow, American actor best remembered for dying during the filming of “Twilight Zone the Movie,” was born.
1929 – The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
It was Feast Day and Chicago’s North Side Gang was gathered in a garage. Four unknown assailants dressed as police officers came in, lined the gang members up against a wall, and killed seven of them.
1931 – Dracula starring Bela Lugosi was released.
1934 – American actress Florence Henderson was born.
Known in American culture as Carol Brady from “The Brady Bunch,” Henderson brought audiences one of the lasting images of what a good mother was “supposed” to be like. Her career spanned six decades and included movies, television, and stage.
1935 – Professional golfer, Mary Kathryn “Mickey” Wright was born.
The only female player in the LPGA to hold all four major titles at the same time, Wright is second on the list of all time winners with 82 event wins.
1940 – The first porpoise in captivity in the U.S. was born. Sadly, the baby lived only a few minutes.
1941 – The one millionth vehicle traversed New York’s Midtown Tunnel.
1941 – U.S. Politician Paul Tsongas was born. Tsonga is best known nationally for winning eight states in a bid for the 1992 presidential election. Bill Clinton eventually won the nomination.
1943 – German mathematician David Hilbert died.
Hilbert was one of the most influential mathematicians in the 19th and early 20th centuries for developing a broad range of fundamentals, including proof theory. He’s also known for having solved Gordan’s Problem.
1944 – Journalist Carl Bernstein was born.
At the beginning of his career as a reporter, Bernstein teamed up with Bob Woodward to take down Richard Nixon in the Watergate Scandal. It has been called one of the greatest pieces of journalism of all time.
1945 – The second day of bombing in Dresden by the Allied forces.
1948 – American magician and comedian, Raymond Joseph Teller aka “Teller” aka “the quiet guy in Penn and Teller,” was born.
1950 – USSR and China signed a peace treaty.
1954 – Senator John F. Kennedy appeared on Meet the Press.
1955 – American publishing executive and first recipient of the ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award, Carol Kalish was born.
1959 – $3.6 million in heroin seized in New York City.
1962 – Jacqueline Kennedy conducted a White House tour on television.
1964 – Rob “The Bass Thing” Jones, English musician and founding member of The Wonder Stuff, was born.
1966 – Wilt Chamberlain broke the NBA career scoring record at 20,884 points.
1967 – The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin looked for a little “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” in the recording booth. And she found it.
1970 – English actor Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Slaughterhouse Rulez) was born.
1971 – “Ben Hur” was shown on television for the first of many, many times.
1971 – President Richard Nixon installed secret taping devices in the White House.
1975 – Writer P.G. Wodehouse died.
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was a banker turned writer turned comic writer who invented Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves – a comedy duo that had readers rolling in the bookstore aisles.
1978 – Texas Instruments patented the first “micro on a chip.”
1980 – U.S. launched Solar Maximum Mission Observatory to study solar flares.
1985 – Whitney Houston’s debut album released.
1989 – World’s first satellite phone.
1989 – Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for Salman Rushdie’s death.
1991 – American western singer and guitarist Roy Lanham, known for The Whippoorwills, died.
1991 – “The Silence of the Lambs” was released; fava beans have never been the same.
1994 – Gary “BB” Coleman, blues singer, guitarist, and producer, died.
1995 – The Trailblazers stupidly traded away Clyde Drexler to Houston… and Houston won the NBA championship. Oregonians slapped their foreheads as one and said “D’oh!”
1996 – The artist formerly known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” married Mayte Garcia.
1999 – The artist formerly known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” divorced Mayte Garcia.
2003 – Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned, died at age six.
2008 – Mass shooting at Northern Illinois University; 5 killed, 18 injured.
2013 – Large Hadron Collider turned off for two-year maintenance; still no Earth-encompassing black holes.
2018 – South African president Jacob Zuma resigned.
2018 – American snowboarder Shaun White won his third Olympic gold medal for the halfpipe.
2019 – JP Morgan became first bank to create its own crypto currency – the JPM Coin.
2020 – France reported the first death from the coronavirus – later named COVID-19 – outside of Asia.
By Sally K Lehman