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This Day in History: February 17


1621 – Myles Standish is appointed as first commander of the English Plymouth Colony in North America.

1801 – An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved when Jefferson is elected President of the United States and Burr, Vice President by the United States House of Representatives.

1819 – The United States House of Representatives passes the Missouri Compromise for the first time.

1864 – American Civil War: The H. L. Hunley becomes the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.

1865 – American Civil War: Columbia, South Carolina, is burned as Confederate forces flee from advancing Union forces.

1913 – The Armory Show opens in New York City, displaying works of artists who are to become some of the most influential painters of the early 20th century.

1933 – Newsweek magazine is first published.

1944 – World War II: The Battle of Eniwetok begins: The battle ends in an American victory on February 22.

1944 – World War II: Operation Hailstone begins: U.S. naval air, surface, and submarine attack against Truk Lagoon, Japan's main base in the central Pacific, in support of the Eniwetok invasion.

1959 – Project Vanguard: Vanguard 2: The first weather satellite is launched to measure cloud-cover distribution.

1964 – In Wesberry v. Sanders the Supreme Court of the United States rules that congressional districts have to be approximately equal in population.

1965 – Project Ranger: The Ranger 8 probe launches on its mission to photograph the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon in preparation for the manned Apollo missions. Mare Tranquillitatis or the "Sea of Tranquility" would become the site chosen for the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

1968 – In Springfield, Massachusetts, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame opens.

1972 – Cumulative sales of the Volkswagen Beetle exceed those of the Ford Model T.

1974 – Robert K. Preston, a disgruntled U.S. Army private, buzzes the White House in a stolen helicopter.

1996 – In Philadelphia, world champion Garry Kasparov beats the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.

1996 – NASA's Discovery Program begins as the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft lifts off on the first mission ever to orbit and land on an asteroid, 433 Eros.


1844 – Aaron Montgomery Ward, American businessman, founded Montgomery Ward (d. 1913)

1893 – Wally Pipp, American baseball player and journalist (d. 1965)

1908 – Red Barber, American sportscaster (d. 1992)

1920 – Curt Swan, American soldier and illustrator (d. 1996)

1936 – Jim Brown, American football player and actor

1942 – Huey P. Newton, American activist, co-founded the Black Panther Party (d. 1989)

1949 – Dennis Green, American football player and coach (d. 2016)

1963 – Michael Jordan, American basketball player and actor


1909 – Geronimo, American tribal leader (b. 1829)

1970 – Alfred Newman, American composer and conductor (b. 1900)

1982 – Nestor Chylak, American baseball player and umpire (b. 1922)

1982 – Thelonious Monk, American pianist and composer (b. 1917)

1982 – Lee Strasberg, Austrian-American actor and director (b. 1901)