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What Happened on February 25?

  • Queen Elizabeth I was excommunicated. (1570) Pope Pius V issued a bull on this day excommunicating Elizabeth, whom he called "the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime." He had done so under the belief that her staunchly Catholic half-sister, Mary had staged a successful coup, and would soon be in power. By the time the news of Mary's failure reached him, the bull had already been issued, inciting strong anti-Catholic sentiments in England.

  • Samuel Colt patented the Colt revolver. (1836) Colt firearms were the first handguns to become widely used in America, where before the knife had been the weapon of choice.

  • Adolf Hitler gained German citizenship. (1932) Though Hitler is most remembered as the leader of Nazi Germany, he was actually born in Austria. He gained German citizenship by naturalization so he could run for Reichpresident, the head of the German state in the Weimar Republic.

  • The Legal Tender Act was passed. (1862) This act allowed the government to pay its bills in paper money, as opposed to silver or gold, which was the only legal tender beforehand. Many people were very skeptical about the act, which allowed for the printing of $150 million US Dollars (USD), since it was not backed up by gold or silver.

  • Mohammed Ali became the heavyweight world champion. (1964) Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, became the heavyweight champion of the world for the first time on this day when he beat Sonny Liston. Ali went on to become the first person to win the heavyweight champion title three times.

  • The first gasoline tax was levied. (1919) Oregon placed a one cent per gallon tax on gasoline today, making it the first state to levy a gas tax, and the first time any gas tax had been levied in America.

  • The first African-American congressperson was sworn in. (1870) Hiram Rhoades Revels, a representative from Mississippi, became the first African-American congressman when he was sworn in to finish out Jefferson Davis' term, which had been left vacant when Davis left to become the president of the Confederacy.

  • Prussia ceased to exist. (1947) Though Prussia had been an incredibly strong empire in the 17 and 1800s, it had actually been incorporated into the Weimar Republic during World War II, and unofficially ceased to exist. Once the Allies won World War II, they officially dissolved the state of Prussia as part of their war aims.

  • President Ferdinand Marcos fled the Philippines. (1986) Mass riots caused the notoriously corrupt president to flee the country with his wife, Imelda Marcos. Both Marcos' stayed in exile in Hawaii until Ferdinand's death in 1989.

  • Glacier Bay National Monument was established. (1925) The monument, which was later known as Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, was one of the earlier national parks. Though it is almost completely inaccessible except by boat or plane, it still receives upwards of 30,000 visitors a year.

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