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What Happened on February 5?

  • The last Soviet troops left Kabul. (1989) The USSR had been fighting in Afghanistan for almost a decade trying to support the nation's pro-Soviet government against Muslim rebels with little success. When Gorbachev finally pulled out the troops, it had little impact on Afghanistan, but was a sign of the waning power of the USSR.

  • US President Franklin Roosevelt proposed his "court-packing" plan. (1937) The plan, which proposed to increase the amount of Supreme Court justices, met with extreme resistance. Opponents claimed that Roosevelt was trying to "pack" the court with his own supporters to support his New Deal legislation.

  • Roger Williams arrived in America. (1631) Williams became extremely unpopular in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts when he advocated separating church and civil matters, leading him to leave and found Rhode Island. The colony became known as a free zone for radical thinkers, including feminist Anne Hutchinson.

  • United Artists was created. (1919) Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith came together to create one of the first major film studios. The studio is known for its films West Side Story, Last Tango in Paris and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, among others.

  • Congress passed the Immigration Act. (1917) The act made a literacy test required for immigrants, and barred Asian laborers. Despite President Wilson's veto, Congress passed the act with a two-thirds majority, signaling America's strong xenophobic tendencies before World War I.

  • The Royal Greenwich Observatory began broadcasting the time hourly. (1924) The Greenwich Time Signal, also known as the BBC pips, continued to be broadcast well into the 21st century.

  • King Leopold II claimed the Congo as his personal possession. (1885) Leopold ran the Congo brutally through mercenaries, and enslaved much of the native population. He made a fortune out of ivory and rubber from the area before he was finally forced to hand it over to the state of Belgium.

  • General MacArthur returned to the Philippines. (1945) He had been recalled by President Roosevelt after Japanese occupied the island, and in a famous historical moment, promised the Philippine people, "I came out of Bataan and I shall return." The second campaign ran more smoothly than the first, and paved the way for the Allied victory in the Pacific theater.

  • The 1976 swine flu outbreak began. (1976) Several cases of swine flu were discovered at Fort Dix, sparking fears of a widespread pandemic. The outbreak is most remembered for starting one of the most massive vaccination campaigns in US history.

  • The constitution of Mexico was proclaimed. (1917) The constitution came on the heels of seven years of infighting and revolutions, and was extremely politically forward for its time. Besides ensuring the separation of church and state, the constitution also promised to give land back to native people and a series of educational reforms.

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