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This Day in History: Feb. 17

Written by on February 17, 2021

On this day, Feb. 17 …

1996: World chess champion Garry Kasparov beats IBM supercomputer “Deep Blue,” winning a six-game match in Philadelphia. (Kasparov would lose to Deep Blue in a rematch in 1997).

Also on this day:

  • 1801: The U.S. House of Representatives breaks an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, electing Jefferson president; Burr becomes vice president.
  • 1815: The United States and Britain exchange the instruments of ratification for the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.
  • 1864: During the Civil War, the Union ship USS Housatonic is rammed and sunk in Charleston Harbor, S.C., by the Confederate hand-cranked submarine HL Hunley in the first naval attack of its kind; the Hunley also sinks.
  • 1865: During the Civil War, Columbia, S.C., burns as the Confederates evacuate and Union forces moved in.
  • 1897: The forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, convenes its first meeting in Washington.
  • 1933: Newsweek magazine is first published under the title “News-Week.”
  • 1944: During World War II, U.S. forces invade Eniwetok Atoll, encountering little initial resistance from Imperial Japanese troops. (The Americans would secure the atoll less than a week later.)
  • 1947: The Voice of America begins broadcasting to the Soviet Union.
  • 1968: The original Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, located on the campus of Springfield College in Massachusetts, is opened to the public.
(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

  • 1972: President Richard Nixon leaves the White House with his wife, Pat, on a historic trip to China.
  • 1986: Johnson & Johnson announces it would no longer sell over-the-counter medications in capsule form, following the death of a woman who had taken a cyanide-laced Tylenol capsule.
  • 1988: Lt. Col. William Higgins, a Marine Corps officer serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group, is kidnapped in southern Lebanon by Iranian-backed terrorists. (He would be killed by his captors).
  • 2009: President Barack Obama signs a mammoth, $787 billion economic stimulus package into law in Denver; he also approves adding some 17,000 U.S. troops for the war in Afghanistan.
  • 2014: Meryl Davis and Charlie White win the gold medal in ice dance at Sochi, the first Olympic title in the event for the United States. (Davis and White finish 4.53 points ahead of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, the 2010 champions.)
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

  • 2014: Jimmy Fallon makes his debut as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show.”
  • 2018: President Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, tells a conference in Germany that there was now “incontrovertible” evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election; the statement stood in stark contrast to Trump’s claim that Russian interference in his election victory was a hoax.

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