Today in 1819, Spain ceded Florida to the United States. Florida had become a burden to Spain, and its acquisition was considered a triumph of diplomacy for America. The agreement went into effect on the same date in 1821.
Today in 1898, Postmaster Frazier B. Baker was lynched in Lake City, South Carolina. The mob also shot his wife, Lavinia, as well as daughters Julia, Rosa and Cora, and son Lincoln, were also shot. Julia was killed. Daughters Sarah and Millie were not hit by the bullets. His “crime?” The fact that as an African American, he had secured a prominent position. While there was some public outcry – and even charitable efforts put toward the surviving family – the subsequent trial was a farce. The lynching was even defended by those who agreed with South Carolina Senator Benjamin Tillman, who said the "proud people" of Lake City refused to receive "their mail from a ni**er." The state refused to prosecute anyone – but because Frazier was a federal employee, the Feds stepped in. In the end, the all-white jury found three of the men were found not guilty – and deadlocked on a verdict for the other eight. The judge declared a mistrial and the federal prosecutors did not reopen the case. Fast forward to January 2019? The post office in Lake City has now been named for Mr. Baker (just last week, in fact).
Today in 1935, all plane flights over the White House were barred because they were disturbing President Roosevelt's sleep.
Today in 1959, the first Daytona 500 auto race was held. Lee Petty was the first winner.
Today in 1980, in a stunning upset, the United States Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviets at Lake Placid, New York, 4-to-3. The U.S. team went on to win the Gold medal. Known as the “Miracle on Ice” the victory over the Soviets was considered a metaphor for the Cold War.
Today in 1989, the first Spanish commercial aired on TV. The ad was for Pepsi and the spot aired during the GRAMMY broadcast.
Today in 1994, after being arrested the previous day, the U.S. Justice Department charged Aldrich Ames and his wife with selling national secrets to the Soviet Union. Ames was later convicted to life in prison. His wife received a five-year prison term.
Today in 1997, Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut and his colleagues announced that an adult sheep was successfully cloned. The sheep, named “Dolly,” had been born on July 5th, 1996. Since then, Wilmut has come out against cloning.
Today in 2017, the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting star Trappist-1 was announced in the journal, "Nature." Why did/do we care? It raised possibility of alien life.
Today in 2017, Jay-Z became the first rapper to be inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Max Martin, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Today in 2017, President Donald Trump overturned the Obama-era directive on transgender rights to use toilets.
Today in 2018, Team USA won the gold in Olympic women's ice hockey for the first time in 20 years with a 4-3 shootout victory over Canada in Pyeongchang; scores tied 3-3 after overtime.