Today in 1777, Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery.
Today in 1953, President Eisenhower refused a clemency appeal for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The couple had been convicted of spying for the Russians.
Today in 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor was the first black woman to become a stewardess (now, 'flight attendant'). While she actually “got her wings” the previous December, she made her initial flight on this date on Mohawk Airlines from Ithaca, New York to New York City.
Today in 1960, in one of television's most famous moments, Jack Paar did something that few television stars have ever done – he walked off the air at 11:41pm on NBC's "Tonight Show." Apparently, he was upset because one of his jokes (and about 4-minutes of airtime) had been cut by the network censors. So, the next night, he complained about the NBC censors, said good night and left. A shocked audience watched second banana Hugh Downs take over a show that included Orson Bean and Shelley Berman. After predicting to the press that the show would crumble without him, a contrite Paar was back one month later.
Today in 1990, South African black activist Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in prison. Mandela walked through the gate of Victor Verster prison outside Cape Town, setting off celebrations among his followers.
Today in 1993, President Clinton announced his choice of Miami prosecutor Janet Reno to be the nation's first female attorney general, after two earlier candidates stumbled because they'd hired illegal aliens.
Today in 1999, Pluto again became the outermost planet in our solar system. A “dwarf planet,” but still…. On July 29, 2005, astronomers at Caltech announced the discovery of Eris, which was substantially more massive than Pluto and the most massive object discovered in the Solar System since Triton in 1846. Its discoverers and the press initially called it the tenth planet, although there was no official consensus at the time on whether to call it that. Others in the astronomical community considered the discovery the strongest argument for reclassifying Pluto as a minor planet.
Today in 2007, a national referendum in Portugal legalized non-therapeutic abortion when requested by the woman during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Today in 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation effective February 28th – becoming the first pope to resign since 1415.
Today in 2019, “Nature Medicine” published the results of a study, which showed that when an Artificial Intelligence system was pitted against physicians to diagnose 600-thousand patients, A.I. won.
(Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)