On This Day … 04 February


  • 211 – Following the death of Rome’s Emperor Septimius Severus at Eboracum (modern York, England) while preparing to lead a campaign against the Caledonians, the empire is left in the control of his two quarrelling sons, Caracalla and Geta, instructing them to make peace.
  • 960 – The coronation of Zhao Kuangyin as Emperor Taizu of Song, initiating the Song dynasty period of China that would last more than three
  • centuries.
  • 1454 – In the Thirteen Years’ War, the Secret Council of the Prussian Confederation sends a formal act of disobedience to the Grand Master.
  • 1703 – In Edo (now Tokyo), all but one of the Forty-seven Ronin commit seppuku (ritual suicide) as recompense for avenging their master’s death.
  • 1789 – George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College.
  • 1794 – The French legislature abolishes slavery throughout all territories of the French First Republic. It will be reestablished in the French West Indies in 1802.
  • 1810 – The Royal Navy seizes Guadeloupe.
  • 1820 – The Chilean Navy under the command of Lord Cochrane completes the 2-day long Capture of Valdivia with just 300 men and 2 ships.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: In Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from six break-away U.S. states meet and form the Confederate States of America.
  • 1899 – The Philippine–American War begins with the Battle of Manila.
  • 1932 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Harbin, Manchuria, falls to Japan.
  • 1938 – Adolf Hitler appoints himself as head of the Armed Forces High Command.
  • 1941 – The United Service Organization (USO) is created to entertain American troops.
  • 1945 – World War II: Santo Tomas Internment Camp is liberated from Japanese authority.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Yalta Conference between the “Big Three” (Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin) opens at the Livadia Palace in the Crimea.
  • 1945 – World War II: The British Indian Army and Imperial Japanese Army begin a series of battles known as the Battle of Pokoku and Irrawaddy River operations.
  • 1948 – Ceylon (later renamed Sri Lanka) becomes independent within the British Commonwealth.
  • 1961 – The Angolan War of Independence and the greater Portuguese Colonial War begin.
  • 1974 – M62 coach bombing: The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) explodes a bomb on a bus carrying off-duty British Armed Forces personnel in Yorkshire, England. Nine soldiers and three civilians are killed.
  • 1992 – A coup d’état is led by Hugo Chávez against Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez.
  • 1997 – En route to Lebanon, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 troop-transport helicopters collide in mid-air over northern Galilee, Israel killing 73.
  • Day of the Beginning of the Armed Struggle. Celebrates the beginning in 1961 of the Angolan War of Independence.
  • Independence Day, or National Day (Sri Lanka). A national holiday to celebrate the country’s political independence from British rule in 1948.

People (Births)

  • 1495 – Jean Parisot de Valette, Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller (d. 1568).
  • 1868 – Constance Markievicz, Irish revolutionary and first woman elected to the UK House of Commons (d. 1927).
  • 1881 – Eulalio Gutiérrez, Mexican general and politician, President of Mexico (d. 1939).
  • 1897 – Ludwig Erhard, German soldier and politician, 2nd Chancellor of West Germany (d. 1977).
  • 1917 – Yahya Khan, Pakistan general and politician, 3rd President of Pakistan (d. 1980).
  • 1947 – Dan Quayle, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 44th Vice President of the United States.
  • 1949 – Rasim Delić, Bosnian general (d. 2010).
  • 1971 – Eric Garcetti, American lieutenant and politician, 42nd Mayor of Los Angeles.

People (Deaths)

  • 211 – Septimius Severus, Roman emperor (b. 145).
  • 1843 – Theodoros Kolokotronis, Greek general (b. 1770).
  • 2012 – Florence Green, English soldier (b. 1901).
  • 2012 – Robert Daniel, American farmer, soldier, and politician (b. 1936).
  • 2014 – Eugenio Corti, Italian soldier, author, and playwright (b. 1921).
  • 2015 – Wes Cooley, American soldier and politician (b. 1932).
  • 2015 – Fitzhugh L. Fulton, American colonel and pilot (b. 1925).
  • 2016 – Edgar Mitchell, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1930).

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