What Happened on February 3?

  • The right to vote, regardless of race, was legislated in a Constitutional Amendment. (1870) Following close on the heels of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, the amendment granted the right to vote to any person regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The first black person to vote after the amendment was Thomas Mundy Peterson, who voted in a local election in Amboy, New Jersey.

  • Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson died in a plane crash. (1959) Rock 'n roll fans were devastated when these three founders of the genre died in a plane crash on this day. The event was referenced many times after in popular culture, often as "The Day the Music Died."

  • Tulip mania collapsed in the Netherlands. (1637) Considered the first major speculative bubble, the sale and collection of tulips in the Netherlands reached extraordinary heights before collapsing spectacularly. At the height of the tulip mania, one bulb could sell for more than ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.

  • The first paper money was issued in America. (1690) The first paper money in America was issued in the colony of Massachusetts, though all the colonies issued their own paper money before they were integrated into one nation. This was almost two centuries before the Federal government would start issuing paper bank notes.

  • Physicians announced the birth of the first baby to survive an embryo transplant. (1984) The child, a boy who was born a few weeks earlier, was the first live birth resulting from an embryo transplant. The medical team that achieved the transplant had tried over 40 procedures before they got a live birth.

  • US President Clinton lifted a trade embargo on Vietnam. (1994) The US had a trade embargo on Vietnam for almost 20 years after North Vietnamese forces captured Saigon in the Vietnam War. The decision was lauded by businessmen, but was not so popular with many veterans.

  • The US broke off diplomatic relations with Germany. (1917) Despite America's desire to remain uninvolved in World War I, President Wilson broke off diplomatic relations with Germany after it announced a new policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. This was to prove the first step towards American involvement in the war.

  • Klaus Fuchs was arrested for passing information about the atomic bomb to the USSR. (1950) Fuchs had been instrumental in developing the atom bomb, but was later exposed as a spy for the USSR. His arrest was the first of a string off arrests that eventually broke up the spy ring that included Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

  • One of the first mass murders in America took place. (1780) Barnett Davenport killed the family he was lodging with in a mass murder that shocked the young nation. Modern experts attribute Davenport's actions to PTSD, but at the time Davenport's crime was seen as proof of evil, a new perception of murder in a time when it was more common to ascribe actions like that to "sinners losing their way."

  • Famous ex-pat Gertrude Stein was born. (1874) The American Stein spent most of her life in Paris, where her salon became the "it" place for ex-pats and young artists. She also became well known for her literary works and her influence on the development of modern art.

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