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Today in History: FEB 20, John Glenn orbits Earth

Feb 19, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: 9:01 pm

Today in History

Today is Monday, Feb. 21, the 51st day of 2023. There are 314 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth as he flew aboard Project Mercury’s Friendship 7 spacecraft, which circled the globe three times in a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds before splashing down safely in the Atlantic Ocean 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.

On this date:

In 1792, President George Washington signed an act creating the United States Post Office Department.

In 1862, William Wallace Lincoln, the 11-year-old son of President Abraham Lincoln and first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, died at the White House, apparently of typhoid fever.

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, upheld, 7-2, compulsory vaccination laws intended to protect the public’s health.

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an immigration act which excluded “idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons” from being admitted to the United States.

In 1933, Congress proposed the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to repeal Prohibition.

In 1938, Anthony Eden resigned as British foreign secretary following Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s decision to negotiate with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

In 1965, America’s Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed on the moon, as planned, after sending back thousands of pictures of the lunar surface.

In 1987, a bomb left by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski exploded behind a computer store in Salt Lake City, seriously injuring store owner Gary Wright.

In 1998, Tara Lipinski of the U.S. won the ladies’ figure skating gold medal at the Nagano (NAH’-guh-noh) Olympics; Michelle Kwan won the silver.

In 2003, a fire sparked by pyrotechnics broke out during a concert by the group Great White at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killing 100 people and injuring about 200 others.

In 2005, death claimed actor Sandra Dee at age 62; musical actor John Raitt at age 88; and counterculture writer Hunter S. Thompson at age 67.

In 2020, a poll by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found more Americans expressing some concern about catching the flu than about catching the coronavirus.

Ten years ago: The Obama administration announced a broad new effort to fight the growing theft of American trade secrets following fresh evidence linking cyber-stealing to China’s military. Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., entered a guilty plea in federal court to criminal charges that he’d engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items; his wife, Sandra Jackson, pleaded guilty to filing false joint federal income tax returns.

Five years ago: Students who survived a Parkland, Florida school shooting traveled to Tallahassee to urge state lawmakers to prevent another massacre, but procedural moves in the legislature effectively halted any effort to ban assault-style rifles like the one used in the attack. President Donald Trump directed the Justice Department to move to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in the Las Vegas massacre. Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir became the most decorated figure skaters in history, capturing the gold medal in ice dancing on Day 11 of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

One year ago: Russia extended military drills near Ukraine’s northern borders after two days of sustained shelling along the contact line between Ukrainian soldiers and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s president appealed for a cease-fire. (Russia would invade four days later.) The White House said President Joe Biden would nominate a Black woman with “impeccable experience” for a vacancy on the Supreme Court. (Biden would nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson for the seat on Feb. 25.) In his former home arena in Cleveland, LeBron James led his team to a 163-160 victory over a team led by Kevin Durant in the NBA All-Star Game.

Today’s birthdays: Racing Hall of Famer Roger Penske is 86. Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is 82. Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito is 81. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is 81. Movie director Mike Leigh is 80. Actor Brenda Blethyn is 77. Actor Sandy Duncan is 77. Actor Peter Strauss is 76. Rock musician Billy Zoom (X) is 75. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is 72. Actor John Voldstad is 72. Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst is 69. Actor Anthony Head is 69. Country singer Leland Martin is 66. Actor James Wilby is 65. Rock musician Sebastian Steinberg is 64. Comedian Joel Hodgson is 63. Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is 60. Rock musician Ian Brown (Stone Roses) is 60. Actor French Stewart is 59. Actor Ron Eldard is 58. Model Cindy Crawford is 57. Actor Andrew Shue is 56. Actor Lili Taylor is 56. Actor Andrea Savage is 50. Singer Brian Littrell is 48. Actor Lauren Ambrose is 45. Actor Jay Hernandez is 45. Actor Chelsea Peretti is 45. Country musician Coy Bowles is 44. Actor Michael Zegen is 44. Actor Majandra Delfino is 42. Actor Jocko Sims is 42. Singer-musician Chris Thile is 42. Actor-singer Jessie Mueller is 40. MLB All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander is 40. Comedian Trevor Noah is 39. Actor Jake Richardson is 38. Actor Daniella Pineda is 36. Actor Miles Teller is 36. Singer Rihanna is 35. Actor Jack Falahee is 34.

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Today in History: FEB 20, John Glenn orbits Earth