Saturday, 28 February 2015

February 29 (2015)

175 years ago

Born on this date

William H. Carney. U.S. soldier. Mr. Carney was born a slave in Virginia, but escaped to freedom through the Underground Railroad. As a member of the all-Negro Company C of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Mr. Carney distinguished himself in the U.S. Civil War at the Battle of Fort Wagner, outside Charleston, South Carolina, on July 18, 1863, when despite being wounded four times, he made his way back to his unit carrying the flag, and proudly claimed that it never hit the ground. Although the Union forces lost the battle, the 54th was hailed for its courage, and Mr. Carney was promoted to sergeant. In 1900 he was finally awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the first Negro soldier to win it. He died at the age of 68 on December 9, 1908 in an elevator accident at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, where he had been employed for 35 years.

John Philip Holland. Irish-born U.S. engineer. Mr. Holland is regarded as the father of the modern submarine, having designed the first submarine to be formally commissioned by the U.S. Navy, and the first U.K. Royal Navy submarine, the Holland 1. He died on August 12, 1914 at the age of 74.

75 years ago

The Academy Awards for 1939 were prsented at the Coconut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Gone With the Wind won a then-record 10 Oscars: Picture; Director (Victor Fleming); Actress (Vivian Leigh); Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel); Screenplay (Sidney Howard); Cinematography--Color (Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan); Art Direction (Lyle Wheeler); Film Editing (Hal Kern and James E. Newsom); a special award to William Cameron Menzies for his use of color; and a special technical award to Don Musgrave for pioneering the use of coordinated equipment in the production of Gone With the Wind. Max Steiner’s memorable original score for Gone With the Wind didn’t win; Herbert Stothart won for The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz also won for Original Song (Over the Rainbow, written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg), and Judy Garland won a special Oscar for outstanding juvenile performance. Robert Donat won the Best Actor Oscar for Goodbye, Mr. Chips, while Thomas Mitchell, who appeared in Gone With the Wind, won supporting actor honours for Stagecoach. Stagecoach also won for Score (Richard Hageman, Franke Harling, John Leipold, Louis Gruenberg, Leo Shuken). Other Oscars went to Wuthering Heights for Cinematography--Black and White (Gregg Toland); Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for Original Story (Lewis R. Foster); and The Rains Came for Special Effects (E.H. Hansen and Fred Sersen). David O. Selznick won the Irving C. Thalberg Memorial Award.

Representatives of 23 religious denominations, meeting in Philadelphia, urged neutral nations to band together and negotiate an end to the European war. Finland initiated peace negotiations with the U.S.S.R., as Soviet forces were reported to be just 1 mile from the Finnish city of Viborg. Brazilian Foreign Minister Oswaldo Aranha protested the February 12 British naval action against the German freighter Wakama as a violation of Brazilian waters. China claimed to have repulsed Japanese efforts to clean up guerrilla areas on the Anhwei-Kiangsu border southeast of Nanking.

Jews in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv demonstrated against the new British restriction, announced the previous day, on Jewish purchases of land in Palestine. The executive committee of the League of Nations adopted a resolution condemning the British action.

Economics and finance
The French government revalued its gold stocks to make a 30-billion franc paper profit for the purpose of war finances.

Politics and government
Manuel Quezon, President of the Philippine Commonwealth, said that he would not be a candidate for re-election in 1941.

In a ceremony held in Berkeley, California because of the European war, American physicist Ernest Lawrence received the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics, "for the invention and development of the cyclotron and for results obtained with it, especially with regard to artificial radioactive elements," from Sweden's Consul General in San Francisco. The Nobel Prize ceremonies usually took place in Stockholm, with the exception of the ceremony for the Peace Prize, which was held in Oslo.

U.S. education commissioner John W. Studebaker said that controversial subjects should be taught in schools.

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