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This Day in History: February 29


1504 – Christopher Columbus uses his knowledge of a lunar eclipse that night to convince Native Americans to provide him with supplies.

1796 – The Jay Treaty between the United States and Great Britain comes into force, facilitating ten years of peaceful trade between the two nations.

1864 – American Civil War: Kilpatrick–Dahlgren Raid fails: Plans to free 15,000 Union soldiers being held near Richmond, Virginia are thwarted.

1892 – St. Petersburg, Florida is incorporated.

1916 – Child labor: In South Carolina, the minimum working age for factory, mill, and mine workers is raised from twelve to fourteen years old.

1936 – Baby Snooks, played by Fanny Brice, debuts on the radio program The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.

1940 – For her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African American to win an Academy Award.

1940 – In a ceremony held in Berkeley, California, because of the war, physicist Ernest Lawrence receives the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics from Sweden's Consul General in San Francisco.

1944 – World War II: The Admiralty Islands are invaded in Operation Brewer led by American General Douglas MacArthur.

1972 – Vietnam War: Vietnamization: South Korea withdraws 11,000 of its 48,000 troops from Vietnam.

1980 – Gordie Howe of the then Hartford Whalers makes NHL history as he scores his 800th goal.


1736 – Ann Lee, English-American religious leader, founded the Shakers (d. 1784)

1860 – Herman Hollerith, American statistician and businessman, co-founded the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (d. 1929)

1904 – Jimmy Dorsey, American saxophonist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1957)

1908 – Dee Brown, American historian and author (d. 2002)

1920 – Howard Nemerov, American poet and academic (d. 1991)

1936 – Jack R. Lousma, American colonel, astronaut, and politician

1944 – Dennis Farina, American police officer and actor (d. 2013)

1948 – Patricia A. McKillip, American author

1952 – Tim Powers, American author and educator

1976 – Ja Rule, American rapper and actor


1908 – Pat Garrett, American sheriff (b. 1850)

1928 – Adolphe Appia, Swiss architect and theorist (b. 1862)

1928 – Ina Coolbrith, American poet and librarian (b. 1841)

1960 – Melvin Purvis, American police officer and FBI agent (b. 1903)

2004 – Jerome Lawrence, American playwright and author (b. 1915)

2008 – Janet Kagan, American author (b. 1946)