What Happened on February 7?

  • The European Union was created. (1992) The Treaty of Maastricht was signed on this day, creating the European Union and laying the groundwork for the Euro currency. It took over a year to go into effect, but by the time it did, the treaty had been ratified by 12 countries, among them the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.

  • The Beatles arrived in the US. (1964) Their arrival in New York almost caused a riot among the more than 3,000 fans that turned out to see them. It was the beginning of Beatlemania in the US, and a sign of their growing global popularity.

  • The Bonfire of Vanities occurred in Florence. (1497) The radical priest Savonarola burned a huge pile of cosmetics, arts, and books as an act of punishment and penance for the citizens. At the time, Florence was a major cultural and artistic center, and Savonarola's bonfire, combined with his vehement preaching against luxury, quickly made him an unpopular figure.

  • Dr. Josef Mengele died. (1979) Mengele was known as the Angel of Death because he was in charge of deciding which prisoners lived and died upon arrival in Auschwitz. He died of natural causes in secrecy in Brazil, where he had fled after the war, and his death was not verified until 1985.

  • Monopoly was invented. (1935) The Parker Brother's board game was invented on this day. It went on to become one of the most played board games in the world, with almost 2,000 versions (and parodies) in almost 40 languages.

  • The Mud March was organized by UK suffragettes. (1907) This was one of the first large marches for women's rights, and consisted of more than 3,000 women marching through London. Many people were shocked by the march, and it was a major turning point for the visibility of the suffragist movement.

  • Astronauts made the first untethered spacewalk. (1984) Robert L. Stewart and Bruce McCandless II were the first to perform an untethered space walk using a device called a manned maneuvering unit, somewhat like a jet pack. The spacewalk yielded one of the most iconic images of astronauts as well — McCandless floating in his white suit above the Earth.

  • "Pinocchio" premiered. (1940) Pinocchio was the second full-length Walt Disney film, and one of the earliest full-length color animation films ever produced.

  • Abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born. (1817) Douglass was one of the leaders of early civil rights movement, and was an extremely influential figure on both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

  • The US banned all importing and exporting of Cuban goods. (1962) The US had been in an uncomfortable relationship with Cuba since Castro came to power, and tensions were only exacerbated by the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The US embargo would continue into the 21st century.

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