February: Important dates in history

By Vanessa Copeland

Most people know that February is the shortest month of the calendar year. The average Joe may even think of President’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Black History month when thinking about February. For us Catholics, February marks the onset of the Lenten season with Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. However, there are a number of significant events that have taken place in the second month of the year that I feel are worth mentioning. As we wrap up February, here are some interesting facts about this short yet impactful month. 

    • February 1, 1878 marks the birth of Hattie Caraway in Bakersville, TN. Hattie was the first woman ever elected to the US Senate.  Hattie’s husband became a Senator in Arkansas. After his death in 1931, she completed the remainder of his term and then was elected herself. Hattie served a total of 14 years in the US Senate.
  • HattieCaraway
    • Another “first female” was born on February 3, 1821 near Bristol, England. Elizabeth Blackwell became the first female physician in the U.S. in 1849. She later established a NY hospital that was run by an all-female staff. 


    • Another important February 3 occurred in 1870. This was the day the fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, guaranteeing the right of all citizens to vote, no matter their race, color or previous condition of servitude. 
    • On February 11, 1990, after serving 27 years of a life sentence for being convicted of trying to overthrow the apartheid government, at age 71, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Just four years later he was elected president in South Africa’s very first all-race election. 


    • Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, MA on February 15, 1820. Susan B. is revered as a pioneer for women’s rights due to her tireless efforts for women’s suffrage. 


    • February 19, 1942 marks a dark day in our history when FDR issued an Executive Order requiring Japanese Americans living on the West Coast to surrender for relocation. Over 110,000 citizens entered the Internment Camps.
    • Twenty years and one day after the beginning of internment of Japanese Americans, John Glenn became the first American ever launched into orbit on February 20, 1962. He completed three orbits in just under five hours.

john glenn


These are just a select few of the events that took place in February. So the next time someone tells you that the coolest thing about February is that sometimes it has an extra day, you can correct them with some cool historical events they likely don’t know. 


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