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This Day in History: February 28

Events

1827 – The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad is incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight.

1844 – A gun on USS Princeton explodes while the boat is on a Potomac River cruise, killing eight people, including two United States Cabinet members.

1847 – The Battle of the Sacramento River during the Mexican–American War is a decisive victory for the United States leading to the capture of Chihuahua.

1849 – Regular steamboat service from the west to the east coast of the United States begins with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, four months 22 days after leaving New York Harbor.

1867 – Seventy years of Holy See–United States relations are ended by a Congressional ban on federal funding of diplomatic envoys to the Vatican and are not restored until January 10, 1984.

1883 – The first vaudeville theater opens in Boston

1885 – The American Telephone and Telegraph Company is incorporated in New York as the subsidiary of American Bell Telephone. (American Bell would later merge with its subsidiary.)

1893 – The USS Indiana, the lead ship of her class and the first battleship in the United States Navy comparable to foreign battleships of the time, is launched.

1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.

1940 – Basketball is televised for the first time (Fordham University vs. the University of Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden).

1942 – The heavy cruiser USS Houston is sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait with 693 crew members killed, along with HMAS Perth which lost 375 men.

1959 – Discoverer 1, an American spy satellite that is the first object intended to achieve a polar orbit, is launched. It failed to achieve orbit.

1972 – Sino-American relations: The United States and People's Republic of China sign the Shanghai Communiqué.

1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with almost 106 million viewers. It still holds the record for the highest viewership of a season finale.

1993 – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raid the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group's leader David Koresh. Four ATF agents and five Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.

Births

1901 – Linus Pauling, American chemist and activist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994)

1919 – Alfred Marshall, American businessman, founded Marshalls (d. 2013)

1939 – Tommy Tune, American actor, singer, dancer, and director

1940 – Mario Andretti, Italian-American race car driver

1958 – Jack Abramoff, American businessman

Deaths

1916 – Henry James, American novelist, short writer, and critic (b. 1843)

1967 – Henry Luce, Chinese-American publisher, co-founded Time Magazine (b. 1898)

1977 – Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, American actor and singer (b. 1905)

2004 – Daniel J. Boorstin, American historian and librarian (b. 1914)

2007 – Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. American historian and critic (b. 1917)

2009 – Paul Harvey, American radio host (b. 1918)