Today in History - February 29
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A year that is evenly divisible by 100 is not a leap
unless it also is evenly divisible by 400.
Explanation: The time required for Earth to make one lap around the
sun -- to go from vernal equinox to vernal equinox -- is
365.2422 days. Because the period of 365 days that our calendar
to the basic year falls approximately 0.2422 of a day short of the
it actually takes to orbit the sun, the calendar adds one day to
fourth year. This quadrennial "leap year" causes the average
a year to be approximately 365.2500 days. Because this quadrennial
overshoots its goal by approximately 0.0078 of one day, the calendar
the quadrennial adjustment at the turn of each century. This
"re-adjustment" causes the average duration of a year -- over the
run -- to be approximately 365.2400 days. Because this centennial
overshoots its goal by approximately 0.0022 of one day, the calendar
the centennial re-adjustment once every four centuries. This
"re-re-adjustment" causes the average duration of a year -- over the
long run -- to be approximately 365.2425 days. All of this has the
of reducing the difference between our calendar and our actual orbit
the sun to approximately 0.0003 of a day -- about 26 seconds.
(SSFC, 2/29/04, p.A2)(Internet)
HISTORY OF LEAP YEAR: Roman Emperor Julius Caesar
the first stab at fixing the calendar when dates were no longer in
with the seasons. First, he created one extra-long year – 445 days –
get things back on track. He followed that with a pattern of three
365-day years and one 366-day year – leap year. Fifteen centuries
later, though, the calendar was off-kilter again. It turns out that
Caesar’s plan created three extra leap years every 400 years. So in
1582, Pope Gregory XIII came up with a way to fix the problem. That
year, the calendar jumped from October 4 to October 15. Gregory also
set up a new rule to get rid of those three extra leap years. Under
Gregorian calendar, only century years divisible by 400 are leap
One in 1,461 people are "Leapies," born on Leap Year Day. There are
approximately 200,000 people in the United States with Leap Year Day
birthdays and 4 million in the world. Leap year happens only in
in which January 1 and December 31 of the same year fall on
days of the week. The Henriksen family of Stavanger, Norway, has
siblings born on consecutive Leap Year Days – Heidi on February 29,
1960; Olav on February 29, 1964; and Leif-Martin on February 29,
Feb 29, The first Leap Day was recognized by
proclamation of Julius Caesar. Under the old Roman calendar the last
day of February was the last day of the year.
1288 Feb 29, Scotland made it
legal for women to propose to men. The Scottish Parliament passed a
Leap Year Act whereby women could propose to men. The tradition had
begun in 5th century Ireland.
(SFEC, 6/8/97, Z1 p.6)(SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)
1468 Pope Paul III was born.
(SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)
1504 Feb 29, Christopher
Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West,
used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives
into providing food for his crew.
1692 Feb 29, Sarah Goode and
Tituba were accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, sparking
the hysteria that started the Salem Witch Trials.
1712 Feb 29, Marquis Louis
Joseph de Montcalm, Commander of French Forces in North America
during French and Indian War, was born. [see Feb 8]
1736 Feb 29, Anna Lee, founder
of the Shaker movement in America, was born.
1784 Feb 29, Marquis de Sade
was transferred from Vincennes fortress to the Bastille.
1792 Feb 29, The composer
Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (d.1868) was born in Pesaro, Italy.
1796 Feb 29, President
Washington proclaimed Jay's Treaty in effect; it settled some
outstanding differences with Great Britain.
1841 Feb 29, John Philip
Holland (b.1840), inventor of the modern submarine, was born in
Liscannor, County Clare, into a family that had survived the Great
Potato Famine. Following his immigration to America in 1873, Holland
settled in Paterson, New Jersey where he taught school and, with
financial backing from the Irish Fenian Society, began developing
his first submarine. In 1881, Holland launched the Fenian Ram, a
31-foot-long submersible powered by a 15-horsepower internal
combustion engine. With Holland at the controls, the Ram dived 64
feet beneath New York Harbor that summer, only to be seized by the
Fenians when they lost interest in the project. In 1895, the J.P.
Holland Torpedo Boat Company, won a contract from the U.S. Navy to
build a submarine. After one discouraging failure, the second
submarine, the Holland VI, passed her sea trials and was purchased
by the U.S. Navy on April 11, 1900 for $150,000. [see Feb 24]
1856 Feb 29, Hostilities in
Russo-Turkish war ceased.
1860 Feb 29, Herman Hollerith,
inventor of a tabulation mechanism (1864) that was a forerunner to
the computer, was born.
(HN, 2/29/00)(WSJ, 3/21/00, p.A20)
1860 Feb 29, George Bridgetower
(b.1778), African-Polish violinist, died. He was born in Biała,
Poland, where his father worked for Hieronimus Wincenty Radziwill.
Bridgetower lived in England for much of his life.
1864 Feb 29, Union Brig. Gen.
Judson Kilpatrick split his forces at the Rapidan River ordering
Col. Ulric Dahlgren to lead 500 men his men to Goochland Court
House, while the remainder followed Kilpatrick in his raid on
1864 Feb 29, Lt. William B.
Cushing led a landing party from the USS Monticello to Smithville,
NC, in an attempt to capture Confederate Brig. Gen. Louis Hebert,
only to discover that Hebert and his men had already moved on
1868 Feb 29, British Prime
Minister Benjamin Disreali formed his first cabinet.
1896 Feb 29, A person born on
this day would have celebrated their first birthday in 1904. The
year 1896 was a leap year, thus February had 29 days. The next leap
year was not until 1904. Leap years, which have 366 days instead of
the common 365, are those years divisible by four, except centesimal
(those ending in 00) years unless they are divisible by 400.
Therefore, three of every four centesimal years are common years,
1904 Feb 29, Jimmy Dorsey
(d.1957), orchestra leader, was born in Shenandoah, Pa.
(HN, 2/29/00)(AP, 2/29/04)
1904 Feb 29, President Theodore
Roosevelt appointed a seven-member commission to hasten completion
of the Panama Canal.
1908 Feb 29, The artist known
as Balthus was born in Paris.
1913 Feb 29, A US judge upheld
a Wright Brothers’ airplane patent regarding the use of ailerons in
a suit against Glenn Curtiss. In 1914 a Court of Appeals affirmed
the decision. Henry Ford offered assistance to Curtiss and Ford
lawyer W. Benton Crisp put Curtiss back in production by employing
non-simultaneous use of ailerons.
(ON, 12/11, p.12)
1916 Feb 29, Dinah Shore,
actress and singer, was born. [see Mar 1, 1917]
(SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)
1924 Feb 29, Al Rosen, baseball
player, was born.
(SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)
1933 Mar 29, The front page of
the New York Evening Post said "Famine Grips Russia — Millions
Dying." The report was by Welsh journalist Gareth Jones who had
recently sneaked into Ukraine, at the height of a famine engineered
by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Jones was killed by bandits in 1935
while covering Japan's expansion into China. In 2009 the diaries of
Jones were put on display for the first time in London.
1936 Feb 29, Jack R. Lousma,
astronaut, was born.
1936 Feb 29, Abraham Ruef (71),
San Francisco power broker, died. He had served time at San Quentin
prison following graft prosecutions in 1906-1908.
(SSFC, 2/27/11, DB p.46)
1940 Feb 29, Hattie McDaniel
was the first African American to win an Academy Award--best
supporting actress--for her performance in Gone With The Wind, which
won a total of 8 Oscars.
1940 Feb 29, "Gone with the
Wind" won eight Academy Awards, including best picture of 1939.
Victor Fleming was named best director, Vivien Leigh best actress,
and Hattie McDaniel best supporting actress, the first black
performer to receive an Oscar. Best actor went to Robert Donat for
"Goodbye, Mr. Chips."
(HN, 2/29/00)(AP, 2/29/04)
1944 Feb 29, Dorothy
Vredenburgh accepted an appointment by the Democratic National
Committee becoming the first woman secretary of a national political
party in the U.S.
1944 Feb 29, US forces caught
Japanese troops off-guard and easily took control of the Admiralty
Islands in Papua New Guinea.
1952 Feb 29, The first
pedestrian "Walk/Don't Walk" signs were installed at 44th Street and
Broadway at Times Square.
1956 Feb 29, President Dwight
D. Eisenhower announced he would seek a second term.
(AP, 2/29/00)(HN, 2/29/00)
1960 Feb 29, the first Playboy
Club, featuring waitresses clad in "bunny" outfits, opened in
Chicago. Hugh Hefner closed the corporate-owned clubs in 1986,
calling them "passe."
1960 Feb 29, An 5.7 earthquake
in Morocco's southwest Atlantic coast killed as many as 12,000. The
town of Agadir destroyed.
1964 Feb 29, President Lyndon
B. Johnson revealed that the U.S. secretly developed the Lockheed
A-11 jet fighter.
1968 Feb 29, At the Grammy
Awards, the Fifth Dimension's "Up, Up and Away" won record of the
year for 1967, while album of the year honors went to the Beatles
for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
(HN, 2/29/00)(AP, 2/29/04)
1968 Feb 29, President
Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (also
known as the Kerner Commission) warned that racism was causing
America to move "toward two societies, one black, one white --
separate and unequal."
1968 Feb 29, Robert McNamara
resigned as US Secretary of Defense as a result of the Tet disaster.
He was succeeded by Clark Clifford for 9 months who worked to
reverse US policy in Vietnam.
(WUD, 1994, p.1687)(SFEC, 10/11/98, p.A2)
1968 Feb 29, The discovery of
the first "pulsar," a star which emits regular radio waves, was
announced by Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell at Cambridge, England.
(AP, 2/29/00)(HN, 2/29/00)
1972 Feb 29, Henry "Hank" Aaron
became the first baseball player to sign a baseball contract for
$200,000 a year.
1980 Feb 29, Pres. Carter
signed a law that renamed the Arctic National Wildlife Range to the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more than doubled its size. The
law directed the Interior Dept. to assess oil potential in 1.5
million acres of the coastal plain. A ban was put on drilling in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2002 Pres. Bush pushed to
overturn the ban. Estimates on oil there ranged from 3.2 to at least
5.7 billion barrels.
(SSFC, 2/24/02, p.A9)(SSFC, 8/28/05,
1980 Feb 29, former Israeli
foreign minister Yigal Allon, who had played an important role in
the Jewish state's fight for independence, died at age 61.
1984 Feb 29, Liberace's
palimony suit was thrown out of court.
1984 Feb 29, Canadian Prime
Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced he was stepping down after
more than 15 years in power.
1984 Feb 29-1984 Mar 1, In one
of the largest battles of the Iran-Iraq war, the two armies clashed
and inflicted more than 25,000 fatalities on each other.
1984 Feb 29, In Switzerland a
court ruled that the villagers of Zermatt owned the Matterhorn.
(SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)
1988 Feb 29, A Nazi document
was discovered that implicated participation of Austrian president
and former U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim in WWII
1988 Feb 29, South African
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other religious leaders were arrested
while kneeling near Parliament with a petition against government
bans on anti-apartheid groups. All were freed hours later.
1992 Feb 29, Muslims and Croats
in Bosnia-Herzegovina began casting ballots in an independence
referendum; Serbs boycotted the vote, calling it illegal.
1996 Feb 29, About 30
television and entertainment industry executives met with President
Clinton at the White House, where they promised to devise a TV
1996 Feb 29, Daniel Green was
convicted in Lumberton, N.C., of murdering James R. Jordan, the
father of basketball star Michael Jordan, during a 1993 roadside
holdup. Green was sentenced to life in prison; an accomplice who had
testified against him, Larry Demery, is also serving a life
1996 Feb 29, A Peruvian
commercial jetliner crashed in the Andes, killing all 123 people on
2000 Feb 29, George W. Bush
beat John McCain in Virginia, Washington and North Dakota primaries.
Al Gore beat Bill Bradley in Washington.
(SFC, 3/1/00, p.A1)
2000 Feb 29, Sparky Anderson
was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame along with Turkey Stearnes
of the Negro leagues and 19th-century second baseman Bid McPhee.
2000 Feb 29, Doris Haddock
(90), known as "Granny D." completed a 3,200 mile trek to Washington
from California to urge Congress to enact reforms.
(SFC, 2/29/00, p.A3)
2000 Feb 29, In Michigan a
6-year-old boy shot and killed Kayla Rolland (6) with a .32 caliber
semiautomatic after a quarrel in the Theo J. Buell Elementary School
in Flint. Jamelle James (19), the owner of the stolen gun, was later
arraigned on a manslaughter charge.
(SFC, 3/1/00, p.A1)
2000 Feb 29, The Algerian army
began a crack down on Islamic militants following the massacre of 25
shepherds near Brezina. Over the next 3 weeks they killed 35
militants around El-Bayadh and Ghardaia.
(SFC, 3/22/00, p.A12)
2000 Feb 29, In Chechnya 84
Russian paratroopers were killed after rebels attacked a guard post
near Ulus Kert. Most of the soldiers were from Pskov. Many were
suspected to have died from Russian artillery called in after the
position was overrun.
(SFC, 3/11/00, p.A12)
2000 Feb 29, In India the
government announced a 28.2% increase in military spending, tax
increase on higher income people and cuts in government payroll.
(SFC, 3/1/00, p.A13)
2000 Feb 29, Israel released
the 1961 prison memoir of Adolph Eichmann.
(SFC, 3/1/00, p.A12)
2000 Feb 29, In Nigeria the
government made an agreement with northern leaders to stop enforcing
Shariah where it was in effect and to not adopt it in other regions
for the time being due to recent clashes.
(SFC, 3/1/00, p.A14)
2000 Feb 29, In Zimbabwe former
guerrillas invaded white-owned farms and occupied at least 36 with
no official interference.
(SFC, 3/1/00, p.A14)
2004 Feb 29, In the Academy
Awards "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" won a
record-tying 11 awards, taking best picture and sweeping each of its
categories. Sean Penn took the best-actor prize as a vengeful father
in "Mystic River," and Charlize Theron won for best actress as
serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster." Supporting-performance
Oscars went to Tim Robbins as a man emotionally hamstrung by
childhood trauma in "Mystic River" and Renee Zellweger as a hardy
Confederate survivor in "Cold Mountain."
2004 Feb 29, Jerome Lawrence
(88), playwright, died. His 39 plays included “Auntie Mame.”
(SFC, 12/28/04, p.D1)
2004 Feb 29, In central China a
bus carrying migrant workers to faraway factory jobs plunged off a
mountain road, killing 12 and injuring 35.
2004 Feb 29, In Germany
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party was handed a stinging defeat by
voters in Hamburg in elections reflecting the pent-up anger over his
push to cut cherished state benefits.
2004 Feb 29, Haiti's Pres.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned and flew into exile. The capital
fell into chaos, and the US said international peacekeepers,
including Americans, would be deployed soon. Boniface Alexandre, the
Supreme Court Justice, took over as interim president. PM Yvon
Neptune continued as head of the government. Guy Philippe (36), head
of a band of former exiled soldiers, said his forces would stop
(AP, 2/29/04)(ST, 3/2/04, p.A3)
2004 Feb 29, Israel's Supreme
Court ordered the government to suspend work for one week on a
section of the West Bank security barrier, an attorney said, while
security forces arrested three Palestinian youths who planned an
2004 Feb 29, Japan's
agriculture minister slammed a senior poultry industry executive for
failing to report the deaths of tens of thousands of chickens on his
farm, where officials have confirmed the country's third outbreak of
2004 Feb 29, Spain averted a
bombing by the Basque separatist group ETA after the Civil Guard
stopped a small truck and found about 1,100 pounds of bomb-making
2008 Feb 29, US Defense
Department officials announced that they had formally agreed to
implement the long-discussed Defense Telephone Link (DTL) with
China. The US and China established a hotline between their defense
10/24/09, SR p.9)
2008 Feb 29, The Ninth US
circuit Court of appeals ruled that the US Navy must protect
endangered whales from the potentially lethal effects of underwater
sonar during anti-submarine training off the Southern California
coast, rejecting Pres. Bush’s attempt to exempt the exercises from
(SSFC, 3/2/08, p.A2)
2008 Feb 29, A divided Virginia
Supreme Court affirmed the nation's first felony conviction for
illegal spamming, ruling that Virginia's anti-spamming law does not
violate free-speech rights.
2008 Feb 29, At the annual TED
conference in Monterey, Ca., writer Dave Eggers, cosmologist Neil
Turok and religious scholar Karen Armstrong received awards and then
made wishes to the TED community. Eggers wished that community
members engage a local school and seek transformative change.
(SFC, 3/1/08, p.C1)
2008 Feb 29, In southern
Afghanistan Taliban militants blew up a telecommunications tower
following a warning to phone companies to shut down the towers at
night or face attack.
2008 Feb 29, Algerian security
forces chased some 30 Islamic insurgents planting roadside bombs
back into their refuge east of the Algiers.
2008 Feb 29, In Belgium lawyers
said Belgian writer Misha Defonseca (71) has admitted that she made
up her best-selling memoir, "Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust
Years," depicting how, as a Jewish child, she lived with a pack of
wolves in the woods during the Holocaust.
2008 Feb 29, In Brazil police
killed six alleged drug gang members in Rio de Janeiro, while a
bodyguard for the state security chief was shot dead what appeared
to be an attempted robbery.
2008 Feb 29, The British
military decided to pull Prince Harry out of Afghanistan
"immediately" after news of his deployment leaked out in foreign
2008 Feb 29, China agreed to
release sensitive records about missing US soldiers and establish a
hot line to the Pentagon.
2008 Feb 29, France and
energy-hungry South Africa signed three economic accords, including
one for the construction of a 1.36-billion euro coal-fuelled power
plant by French energy giant Alstom.
2008 Feb 29, In Ghana 9
Nigerians were sentenced to 5 years each for faking e-mails and
letters, including one from the Ghanaian president, to dupe a
Frenchman out of $185,000.
2008 Feb 29, In Guatemala an
overcrowded bus plunged off a highway and rolled into a gully,
killing 45 people and injuring 20 more.
2008 Feb 29, In Iraq gunmen
killed 3 people and abducted Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho
(65) soon after he left Mass in Mosul, the latest in what church
members called a series of attacks against Iraq's small Christian
community. A British serviceman was killed in a rocket attack in
southern Iraq, taking the Britain’s death toll since the start of
the conflict to 175.
(AP, 3/1/08)(AFP, 3/1/08)
2008 Feb 29, Italy’s Eni SpA
signed a major oil production agreement with Venezuela. Last month
Eni said it had reached a compensation deal in which Venezuela
agreed to a payment in excess of $700 million.
(WSJ, 3/1/08, p.A5)
2008 Feb 29, Hundreds of Serb
police in Kosovo vowed not to follow the orders of the
Albanian-dominated force after the territory split from Serbia.
2008 Feb 29, Hezbollah
denounced the deployment of US warships off Lebanon and said it
won't be intimidated. The US-backed Lebanese government distanced
itself from the military move.
2008 Feb 29, In Pakistan a
suicide bomber killed at least 44 people and injured up to 90 in
Peshawar. In the Swat Valley a police officer was killed in the
northwestern Lakki Marwat district in a bomb blast along with three
others. Later in the day during funeral ceremonies a suicide bomber
rammed his car into a security vehicle, killing a civilian, a
security official and injuring 21 others.
2008 Feb 29, Peruvian officials
arrested seven members from the Coordinadora Continental
Bolivariana, a Venezuela-based leftist movement, including the
group's alleged leader, Roque Gonzalez, who spent eight years in
prison for kidnapping a Bolivian politician. Two more alleged
members were arrested on March 17 trying to carry in $65,000 from
Ecuador, money Peruvian authorities suspect is Venezuelan.
Coordinadora founder Fernando Rivero told The Associated Press in
Venezuela that the group is entirely autonomous.
2008 Feb 29, Two former
Philippine presidents, once bitter foes, joined tens of thousands of
protesters at a rally to press for President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo's resignation over a raging corruption scandal.
2008 Feb 29, In Sri Lanka a
suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew himself up injuring 7
people as police tried to search his house in the heavily-guarded
Sri Lankan capital. In a massive search carried out shortly
afterwards, police recovered six powerful Claymore mines, the type
commonly used by Tamil Tiger rebels, from a house in the same area
2008 Feb 29, Turkey's military
said it has ended a ground offensive against Kurdish rebels in Iraq,
but said that foreign influence did not play a role in its decision.
2008 Feb 29, The UN refugee
agency said that 3,000 refugees from Darfur have arrived in Chad in
the last week, bringing the total number to over 13,000 in February
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