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This Day in U.S. History: February 1


1861 – American Civil War: Texas secedes from the United States.

1865 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

1876 – A murder conviction effectively forces the violent Pennsylvanian Irish anti-owner coal miners, the "Molly Maguires", to disband.

1893 – Thomas A. Edison finishes construction of the first motion picture studio, the Black Maria in West Orange, New Jersey.

1942 – World War II: U.S. Navy conducts Marshalls–Gilberts raids, the first offensive action by the United States against Japanese forces in the Pacific Theater.

1942 – Voice of America, the official external radio and television service of the United States government, begins broadcasting with programs aimed at areas controlled by the Axis powers.

1960 – Four black students stage the first of the Greensboro sit-ins at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

1964 – The Beatles have their first number one hit in the United States with "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

1968 – Vietnam War: The execution of Viet Cong officer Nguyễn Văn Lém by South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan is videotaped and photographed by Eddie Adams. This image helped build opposition to the Vietnam War.

1968 – The New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad are merged to form Penn Central Transportation.

1978 – Director Roman Polanski skips bail and flees the United States to France after pleading guilty to charges of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

1979 – The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Tehran, Iran after nearly 15 years of exile.

1991 – A runway collision between USAir Flight 1493 and SkyWest Flight 5569 at Los Angeles International Airport results in the deaths of 34 people, and injuries to 30 others.

1993 – Gary Bettman becomes the NHL's first commissioner

1996 – The Communications Decency Act is passed by the U.S. Congress.

1998 – Rear Admiral Lillian E. Fishburne becomes the first female African American to be promoted to rear admiral.

2002 – Daniel Pearl, American journalist and South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, kidnapped January 23, 2002, is beheaded and mutilated by his captors.

2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during the reentry of mission STS-107 into the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

2004 – Janet Jackson's breast is exposed during the half-time show of Super Bowl XXXVIII, resulting in US broadcasters adopting a stronger adherence to Federal Communications Commission censorship guidelines.


1820 – George Hendric Houghton, American clergyman and theologian (d. 1897)

1894 – John Ford, American director and producer (d. 1973)

1901 – Frank Buckles, American soldier (d. 2011)

1902 – Therese Brandl, German concentration camp guard (d. 1947)

1902 – Langston Hughes, American poet and author (d. 1967)

1904 – S.J. Perelman, American author and screenwriter (d. 1979)

1947 – Jessica Savitch, American journalist (d. 1983)

1948 – Rick James, American singer-songwriter and producer (d. 2004)

1966 – Michelle Akers, American soccer player

1968 – Lisa Marie Presley, American singer-songwriter and actress

1987 – Ronda Rousey, American mixed martial artist and actress


1940 – Philip Francis Nowlan, American author, created Buck Rogers (b. 1888)

1966 – Hedda Hopper, American actress and journalist (b. 1885)

1966 – Buster Keaton, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1895)

1976 – George Whipple, American physician and pathologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1878)

1981 – Donald Wills Douglas, Sr., American engineer and businessman, founded the Douglas Aircraft Company (b. 1892)

2003 – crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia

          – Michael P. Anderson, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1959)

          – David M. Brown, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1956)

          – Kalpana Chawla, Indian-American engineer and astronaut (b. 1961)

          – Laurel Clark, American captain, surgeon, and astronaut (b. 1961)

          – Rick Husband, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1957)

          – William C. McCool, American commander, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1961)

          – Ilan Ramon, Israeli colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1954)