The first Mardi Gras celebrations were held in New Orleans. (1827) Inspired by similar celebrations in Paris, group of masked students paraded through the street on this day, marking the first Mardi Gras celebrations. Early French settlers had had similar celebrations, but they had been banned throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Once Louisiana became part of the US, the ban was lifted and Mardi Gras celebrations began to take place annually.
Sit-down strikes were ruled illegal by the Supreme Court. (1939) There had been several very successful sit-down strikes in the US, notably the Flint Sit-Down strike, in which United Auto Workers occupied General Motors for more than 40 days. On this day, however, the Supreme Court ruled that a sit-down strike violates the property owner's rights, and they were made illegal. Though sit-down strikes do periodically still occur in the US, they are usually unsuccessful.
The Shanghai Communique was issued. (1972) The communique was issued by Zhou Enlai, the Chinese premier, summarizing Nixon's visit to China along with the areas of agreement and disagreement between the two nations. It was an extremely important first step towards a civil relationship between the two countries.
Divorce became legal in Ireland. (1997) The law was strongly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, but voted for by over 14 million Irish citizens. Ireland was the last country in Europe to allow divorce.
President George Bush announced the end of the Persian Gulf War. (1991) "Kuwait is liberated, Iraq's army is defeated," Bush announced on this day, promising that allied forces would suspend attacks by midnight. The whole war had lasted about two months, six weeks of which were composed of air strikes.
The 22nd constitutional amendment was ratified. (1951) The amendment limited US presidents to two terms, whereas before they serve as many terms as they could get elected for. It was largely passed because of Franklin Roosevelt's election to four terms, which gave him control of the country for almost 20 years running.
The first Union prisoners arrived at Andersonville prison. (1864) Prisons in both the North and South were notorious for being filthy, disease-ridden, and overcrowded. Out of these, Andersonville was one of the worst. Over one-fourth of the prisoners there died, and the commander of the prison, Henry Wirz, was later executed for brutality and mistreatment.
"People" magazine was published for the first time. (1974) The magazine was one of the first to combine celebrity gossip with human interest stories, and is well-known for getting the exclusive first rights to many celebrity photographs as well as their annual "100 Most Beautiful People" feature.
The Reichstag, Germany's parliament building, caught on fire. (1933) Hitler blamed the fire on communists, and used it as an excuse to institute martial law and curtail civil liberties in Germany.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born. (1807) Longfellow, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau, was a major force behind the transcendentalist movement in America. He is best known for his works "Paul Revere's Ride" and "The Song of Hiawatha."