Today in History: February 2

Every
Year
February 2nd is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 332 days remaining until the end of the year (333 in leap years).
Every
Year
Groundhog Day (United States and Canada)
Every
Year
Marmot Day (Alaska)

In Alaska, February 2 is observed as Marmot Day rather than Groundhog Day because few groundhogs exist in the state.

Every
Year
Candlemas (Catholic)

Candlemas (also known as Crêpes day, or Chandeleur) is a Catholic holiday that corresponds with the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It falls on February 2, which is 40 days after Christmas.

1046
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: the first page of the Peterborough Chronicle

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: the first page of the Peterborough Chronicle

The first known record of the “Little Ice Age” was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

On February 2, 1046, the winter weather had turned especially severe throughout Europe. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, English monks wrote:

And in the same year, after Candlemas, came the strong winter, with frost and with snow, and with all kinds of bad weather; so that there was no man then alive who could remember so severe a winter as this was, both through loss of men and through loss of cattle; yea, fowls and fishes through much cold and hunger perished.

Candlemas falls on February 2. The entry is the first known record of the “Little Ice Age”, the main part of which occurred between 1350–1850. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of historical documents, written between the 8th and 12th centuries by English monks, chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxon people.

1530 Hernán Cortés commissioned Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán to conquer the interior of México. Guzmán rapidly advanced through what are now the states of Michoacán and Jalisco.

Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán (ca. 1490–1558) was a Spanish conquistador and colonial administrator in New Spain. He was Governor of the provinces of Pánuco (1525–1533) and Nueva Galicia (1529–1534) as well as President of the first Royal Audiencia of México (High Court) from 1528–1530. He founded Guadalajara and several other cities in western México.

Guzmán, a bodyguard of King Charles (Karl V, Holy Roman Emperor and Carlos I of Spain), was sent to México to counterbalance the influence of Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, leader of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. Charles was worried Cortés was becoming too powerful. While Governor of Pánuco, Guzmán cracked down hard on the supporters of Cortés, stripping them of property and rights. He made numerous expeditions of conquest into the northwestern areas of México. During the expeditions he enslaved thousands of Indians and shipped them to the Caribbean colonies.

Guzmán’s downfall began when he made enemies of important men of the church. In 1537, as a result of the power struggles, he was arrested for treason, abuse of power, and mistreatment of the indigenous people of his territories. He was sent back to Spain in shackles.

He has been portrayed as a cruel, violent, and irrational tyrant, and has been compared to Heinrich Himmler. However, while no friend to the Indians, his policies and actions were consistent with heavy-handed colonial practices of the time and were initially supported by the Spanish crown. Part of the reason history looks upon him with disfavor is that history was written primarily by his political opponents, among them Cortés, Juan de Zumárraga, and Vasco de Quiroga.

1653 New Amsterdam (later renamed New York City) was incorporated.

New Amsterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam in Dutch, was a 17th-century Dutch settlement at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. It was the seat of the colonial government in New Netherland.

Fort Amsterdam was built on the strategic, fortifiable southern tip of Manhattan island. The fort was to defend the Dutch West India Company’s North River (Hudson River) fur trade operations. It became part of the Dutch Republic in 1624 and was designated the capital of the province in 1625. Outside of the fort, the Factorij (Dutch for “factory”), a trading post, became a settlement. New Amsterdam became a city when it received municipal rights on February 2, 1653. Nieuw Haarlem (now known as Harlem) was formally recognized in 1658.

The English captured New Amsterdam and renamed it New York on September 8, 1664, in honor of the then-Duke of York (later King James II of England). In 1667, the Dutch gave up their claim to the town and the rest of the colony in exchange for control of the Spice Islands.

1869 James Oliver invented the removable tempered steel plow blade.
1887
Felix the Cat

Felix the Cat

Born today: Pat Sullivan (February 2, 1887–February 15, 1933)

Patrick “Pat” Peter Sullivan was an Australian cartoonist, pioneer animator, and film producer, best known for producing the first Felix the Cat silent cartoons. He was born on February 2, 1887 in Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales and died on February 15, 1933, at age 46, in New York City, New York, United States.

It is disputed that Sullivan created Felix; some claim his top animator Otto Messmer was the creator. Animation historians have accepted Messmer’s claim without question, due to him the principal animator on the Felix series.

Felix, a Sullivan Cartoon

Felix, a Sullivan Cartoon

However, Sullivan’s claim is supported by the fact that by 1919 he was drawing cartoons for Paramount Magazine and in March 1920 he signed a contract as an animator with Paramount Studios. On his résumé was a black cat named Felix who had first appeared in Paramount Magazine as a character named “Master Tom” in a cartoon series named Feline Follies.

1912 Born today: Millvina Dean (February 2, 1912–May 31, 2009)

Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean was a British civil servant and cartographer. She was born on February 2, 1912 in Branscombe, Devon, England. When she was two months old, she was the youngest passenger on the RMS Titanic. She was also the last living survivor of the sinking of the ship on April 15, 1912. She died on May 31, 2009, at age 97, in Ashurst, Hampshire, England.

1931 A rocket was first used to deliver mail in Austria.

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