What Happened on February 1?

  • Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran. (1979) Khomeini had been in exile for 15 years before he was finally able to return after the Shah of Iran fled the country. He was promptly named Iran's religious and political leader for life in a new Iranian constitution, a role that he filled until his death in 1989.

  • The Supreme Court had its first meeting. (1790) It originally consisted of six members, presided over by John Jay. Jay was appointed Chief Justice by George Washington after many years of service as an ambassador to Spain and France. The court later became extremely powerful, and influenced much of the structure of American government and culture.

  • Hollywood was first registered as a community. (1887) The future movie capitol started out as a Utopian Christian community. The founder, Harry Wilcox, was a strict temperance advocate, and would likely have been shocked by the turn the city took shortly after his death.

  • The "Oxford English Dictionary" (OED) was first published. (1884) The first portion of the OED was published on this day — it would be 40 years before the final 125th portion was published. There are over half a million words contained in the OED, with more added every year.

  • Roanoke was founded. (1587) The settlement later became known as the "Lost Colony," when ships returning with supplies from England found the site of the colony deserted. No clear explanation was ever discovered for what happened to the colonists.

  • The first of the Greensboro sit-ins began. (1960) Four black students started a sit-in at the lunch counter of Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina. This began the first of several non-violent sit-ins that garnered national media coverage and helped tip the balance of popular opinion towards the Civil Rights movement.

  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police was established. (1920) The "Mounties," easily recognizable by their bright red coats and wide-brimmed hats, are responsible for enforcing federal laws throughout Canada.

  • Richard Nixon announced his candidacy for the US presidency. (1968) Nixon was known as a strong opponent to Communism, but most had written off his political life after he lost the presidency to John F. Kennedy eight years earlier. This time around, he won by a clear majority against the Democratic Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

  • "Late Night With David Letterman" premiered. (1982) The comedy show was the first of his "Late Night" incarnations, and was known for being unpredictable and sometimes provocative.

  • Langston Hughes was born. (1902) Hughes was a very influential African-American poet and writer during the Harlem Renaissance. Among his best-known works are I, Too, Sing America and The Weary Blues.

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