Today in History: February 14

Today in History: February 14

Happy Valentine's Day! Today is St. Valentine's Day, the feast day of two Christian martyrs named Valentine: one a priest and physician, the other the Bishop of Terni. Both are purported to have been beheaded on this day. The custom of sending handmade 'valentines' to one's beloved became popular during the 17th century and was first commercialized in the United States in the 1840s. 

Pick a day:

February 13 February 15

1349

2,000 Jews are burned at the stake in Strasbourg, Germany.

1400

The deposed Richard II is murdered in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire.

1549

Maximilian II, brother of the Emperor Charles V, is recognized as the future king of Bohemia.

1779

American Loyalists are defeated by Patriots at Kettle Creek, Ga.

1797

The Spanish fleet is destroyed by the British under Admiral Jervis (with Nelson in support) at the battle of Cape St. Vincent, off Portugal.

1848

James Polk becomes the first U.S. President to be photographed in office by Matthew Brady.

1859

Oregon is admitted as the thirty-third state.

1870

Esther Morris becomes the world's first female justice of the peace.

1876

Rival inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both apply for patents for the telephone.

1900

General Roberts invades South Africa's Orange Free State with 20,000 British troops.

1904

The "Missouri Kid" is captured in Kansas.

1912

Arizona becomes the 48th state in the Union.

1915

Kaiser Wilhelm II invites the U.S. Ambassador to Berlin in order to confer on the war.

1918

Warsaw demonstrators protest the transfer of Polish territory to the Ukraine.

1920

The League of Women Voters is formed in Chicago in celebration of the imminent ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.

1924

Thomas Watson founds International Business Machines Corp.

1929

Chicago gang war between Al Capone and George "Bugs" Moran culminates with several Moran confederates being gunned down in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

1939

Germany launches the battleship Bismarck.

1940

Britain announces that all merchant ships will be armed.

1942

Japanese paratroopers attack Sumatra. Aidan MacCarthy's RAF unit flew to Palembang, in eastern Sumatra, where 30 Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed A-28 Hudson bombers were waiting.

1945

800 Allied aircraft firebomb the German city of Dresden. Smaller followup bombing raids last until April with a total death toll of between 35,000 to 130,000 civilians.

1945

The siege of Budapest ends as the Soviets take the city. Only 785 German and Hungarian soldiers managed to escape.

1949

The United States charges the Soviet Union with interning up to 14 million in labor camps.

1955

A Jewish couple loses their fight to adopt Catholic twins as the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to rule on state law.

1957

The Georgia state senate outlaws interracial athletics.

1965

Malcolm X's home is firebombed. No injuries are reported.

1971

Moscow publicizes a new five-year plan geared to expanding consumer production.

1973

The United States and Hanoi set up a group to channel reconstruction aid directly to Hanoi.

1979

Armed guerrillas attack the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

1985

Vietnamese troops surround the main Khmer Rouge base at Phnom Malai.

1989

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini charges that Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses, is blasphemous and issues an edict (fatwa) calling on Muslims to kill Rushdie.