Today in History — Feb. 20, 2018

Published Feb 20, 2018 at 4:00pm

Today is Tuesday, Feb. 20, the 51st day of 2018. There are 314 days left in the year.

Today 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 1816, the opera buffa “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini premiered in Rome under its original title, “Almaviva, or the Useless Precaution.”

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 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 1915, the Panama Pacific International Exposition opened in San Francisco (the fair lasted until December).

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

In 1942, Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare became the U.S. Navy’s first flying ace of World War II by shooting down five Japanese bombers while defending the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in the South Pacific.

In 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Rabinowitz, ruled 5-3 that authorities making a lawful arrest did not need a warrant to search and seize evidence in an area that was in the “immediate and complete control” of the suspect.

In 1971, the National Emergency Warning Center in Colorado erroneously ordered U.S. radio and TV stations off the air; some stations heeded the alert, which was not lifted for about 40 minutes.

In 1987, a bomb left by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski exploded behind a computer store in Salt Lake City, seriously injuring store owner Gary Wright. Soviet authorities released Jewish activist Josef Begun.

In 1998, Tara Lipinski of the U.S. won the ladies’ figure skating gold medal at the Nagano Olympics while fellow American Michelle Kwan won the silver; Chen Lu of China won the bronze.

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.

Ten years ago

A U.S. Navy cruiser blasted a disabled spy satellite with a pinpoint missile strike that achieved the main mission of exploding a tank of toxic fuel 130 miles above the Pacific Ocean. Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew returned to Earth after delivering a new European lab to the international space station.

Five years ago

The Obama administration announced a broad new effort to fight the growing theft of American trade secrets following fresh evidence linking cyberstealing 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.

One year ago

President Donald Trump tapped Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. Thousands of demonstrators turned out across the U.S. to challenge Donald Trump in a Presidents Day protest dubbed Not My President’s Day.

Today’s Birthdays

Socialite Gloria Vanderbilt is 94. Actor Sidney Poitier is 91. Racing Hall of Famer Bobby Unser is 84. Actress Marj Dusay is 82. Jazz-soul singer Nancy Wilson is 81. Racing Hall of Famer Roger Penske is 81. Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is 77. Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito is 76. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is 76. Movie director Mike Leigh is 75. Actress Brenda Blethyn is 72. Actress Sandy Duncan is 72. Actor Peter Strauss is 71. Rock musician Billy Zoom (X) is 70. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is 67. Country singer Kathie Baillie is 67. Actor John Voldstad is 67. Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst is 64. Actor Anthony Head is 64.

Country singer Leland Martin is 61. Actor James Wilby is 60. Rock musician Sebastian Steinberg is 59. Comedian Joel Hodgson (HAHD’-suhn) is 58. Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is 55. Rock musician Ian Brown (Stone Roses) is 55. Actor Willie Garson is 54. Actor French Stewart is 54. Actor Ron Eldard is 53. Model Cindy Crawford is 52. Actor Andrew Shue is 51. Actress Lili Taylor is 51.

Thought for Today

“I’ve always believed in the adage that the secret of eternal youth is arrested development.” — Alice Roosevelt Longworth, former first daughter (born 1884, died this date in 1980).