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What Happened on February 15?

  • US President Franklin Roosevelt escaped an assassination attempt. (1933) A mentally ill, unemployed bricklayer named Giuseppe Zangara took a shot at the president-elect. When he missed, the surrounding crowd almost beat him to death before Roosevelt intervened. Zangara later told the FBI that he shot at FDR because of long-term stomach pain.

  • The USS Maine exploded. (1898) The Maine sank in Cuba's Havana harbor, killing about two-thirds of the crew. The explosion was attributed to a Spanish mine, even though researchers later found out it was due to an accidental fire. The incident greatly escalated tensions between the US and Spain, and is was one of the trigger of the Spanish-American War.

  • The first Teddy bear was sold. (1903) Morris Michtom sold the first Teddy bear after getting President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt's permission to use his nickname for the bear. The name came about because of an apocryphal story about Roosevelt saving a bear while hunting Mississippi as a young man, linking Roosevelt with bears in the public mind.

  • YouTube was launched. (2005) The popular video-sharing site was created by three former PayPal employees. The first video was called "Me at the Zoo," a film of one of the founders touring a zoo. Later that year, the Time Person of the Year issue featured a YouTube screen with a mirror, citing the growth of social media and networking for making "You" the person of the year.

  • It became legal for female attorneys to argue cases before the US Supreme Court. (1879) A law allowing female attorneys to argue before the Supreme Court was signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes on this day. The first female lawyer to argue a case before the Supreme Court was Belva Ann Lockwood, an influential women's rights activist.

  • The USSR and the PRC signed a mutual defense treaty. (1950) Mao Zedong had only been in power in China a year before the two largest Communist countries signed a treaty. Many in the West saw this as a sign of Communism being a single large movement threatening democracy.

  • British currency was decimalized. (1971) This is known as "Decimal Day" in the UK, since before this day currency was not based on a 10 count system. Instead, one pound was made up of 240 pence, or 20 shillings, making it difficult for those who didn't grow up with the system to calculate.

  • The first children's hospital admitted its first patient. (1852) Great Ormond Street Hospital in London was the first hospital to provide in-patient care specifically for children. It is also famous for owning the rights to J.M. Barrie's play Peter Pan, which has provided a significant amount of funding for the hospital.

  • French President DeGaulle offered to help end the Vietnam War. (1966) DeGaulle was responding to a request from the North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh who asked France to "prevent perfidious new maneuvers" from the US. The US was unhappy with the response, since they saw it as a sign of France challenging the US's leadership in the world.

  • Susan B. Anthony was born. (1820) Anthony was a major women's right's activist, and a co-founder of the National Woman Suffrage Association. She was also the first non-legendary woman to feature on American currency.

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