Behind History For February 20
1901 – The legislature of Hawaii Territory convenes for the first time.
1909 – Publication of the Futurist Manifesto in the French journal Le Figaro.
1913 – King O’Malley drives in the first survey peg to mark commencement of work on the construction of Canberra.
1920 – An earthquake kills between 114 and 130 in Georgia and heavily damages the town of Gori.
1931 – The U.S. Congress approves the construction of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge by the state of California.
1933 – The U.S. Congress approves the Blaine Act to repeal federal Prohibition in the United States, sending the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution to state ratifying conventions for approval.
1933 – Adolf Hitler secretly meets with German industrialists to arrange for financing of the Nazi Party’s upcoming election campaign.
1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.
1942 – Lieutenant Edward O’Hare becomes America’s first World War II flying ace.
1943 – American movie studio executives agree to allow the Office of War Information to censor movies.
1943 – The Saturday Evening Post publishes the first of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms in support of United States President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address theme of Four Freedoms.
1944 – World War II: The “Big Week” began with American bomber raids on German aircraft manufacturing centers.
1944 – World War II: The United States takes Eniwetok Island.
1952 – Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League.
1956 – The United States Merchant Marine Academy becomes a permanent Service Academy.
1959 – The Avro Arrow program to design and manufacture supersonic jet fighters in Canada is cancelled by the Diefenbaker government amid much political debate.
1962 – Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes.
1965 – Ranger 8 crashes into the Moon after a successful mission of photographing possible landing sites for the Apollo program astronauts.
1971 – The United States Emergency Broadcast System is accidentally activated in an erroneous national alert.
1979 – An earthquake cracks open the Sinila volcanic crater on the Dieng Plateau, releasing poisonous H2S gas and killing 149 villagers in the Indonesian province of Central Java.
1986 – The Soviet Union launches its Mir spacecraft. Remaining in orbit for 15 years, it is occupied for ten of those years.
1988 – The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast votes to secede from Azerbaijan and join Armenia, triggering the Nagorno-Karabakh War.
1991 – In the Albanian capital Tirana, a gigantic statue of Albania’s long-time leader, Enver Hoxha, is brought down by mobs of angry protesters.
1998 – American figure skater Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest gold-medalist at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
2003 – During a Great White concert in West Warwick, Rhode Island, a pyrotechnics display sets the Station nightclub ablaze, killing 100 and injuring over 200 others.
2005 – Spain becomes the first country to vote in a referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, passing it by a substantial margin, but on a low turnout.
2009 – Two Tamil Tigers aircraft packed with C4 explosives en route to the national airforce headquarters are shot down by the Sri Lankan military before reaching their target, in a kamikaze style attack.
2010 – In Madeira Island, Portugal, heavy rain causes floods and mudslides, resulting in at least 43 deaths, in the worst disaster in the history of the archipelago.
2014 – Dozens of Euromaidan anti-government protesters died in Ukraine’s capital Kiev, many reportedly killed by snipers.
2015 – Two trains collide in the Swiss town of Rafz resulting in as many as 49 people injured and Swiss Federal Railways cancelling some services.
2016 – Six people are killed and two injured in multiple shooting incidents in Kalamazoo County, Michigan.