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.

13492,000 Jews are burned at the stake in Strasbourg, Germany.
1400The deposed Richard II is murdered in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire.
1549Maximilian II, brother of the Emperor Charles V, is recognized as the future king of Bohemia.
1779American Loyalists are defeated by Patriots at Kettle Creek, Ga.
1797The Spanish fleet is destroyed by the British under Admiral Jervis (with Nelson in support) at the battle of Cape St. Vincent, off Portugal.
1848James Polk becomes the first U.S. President to be photographed in office by Matthew Brady.
1859Oregon is admitted as the thirty-third state.
1870Esther Morris becomes the world's first female justice of the peace.
1876Rival inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both apply for patents for the telephone.
1900General Roberts invades South Africa's Orange Free State with 20,000 British troops.
1904The "Missouri Kid" is captured in Kansas.
1912Arizona becomes the 48th state in the Union.
1915Kaiser Wilhelm II invites the U.S. Ambassador to Berlin in order to confer on the war.
1918Warsaw demonstrators protest the transfer of Polish territory to the Ukraine.
1920The League of Women Voters is formed in Chicago in celebration of the imminent ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
1924Thomas Watson founds International Business Machines Corp.
1939Germany launches the battleship Bismark.
1940Britain 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.
1945800 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 civillians.
1945 The siege of Budapest ends as the Soviets take the city. Only 785 German and Hungarian soldiers managed to escape.
1949The United States charges the Soviet Union with interning up to 14 million in labor camps.
1955A Jewish couple loses their fight to adopt Catholic twins as the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to rule on state law.
1957The Georgia state senate outlaws interracial athletics.
1965Malcolm X's home is firebombed. No injuries are reported.
1971Moscow publicizes a new five-year plan geared to expanding consumer production.
1973The United States and Hanoi set up a group to channel reconstruction aid directly to Hanoi.
1979Armed guerrillas attack the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
1985Vietnamese troops surround the main Khmer Rouge base at Phnom Malai.
1989Iranian 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.

Born on February 14
1760Richard Allen, first black ordained by a Methodist-Episcopal church.
1817Frederick Douglass, slave, and later, activist and author.
1819Christopher Latham Sholes, inventor of the first practical typewriter.
1845Quinton Hogg, English philanthropist.
1859George Washington Gale Ferris, inventor of the Ferris Wheel.
1894Jack Benny, comedian, radio and television performer...and violinist.
1894Mary Lucinda Cardwell Dawson, founded the National Negro Opera Company (NNOC) and was appointed to President John F. Kennedy's National Committee on Music.

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