First Posted: 2/6/2014
The History Channel
* On Feb. 26, 1564, poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe is baptized in Canterbury, England, two months before the birth of his fellow playwright William Shakespeare. Historians believe Marlowe served as a spy for Queen Elizabeth while at Cambridge.
* On Feb. 25, 1862, the U.S. Congress passes the Legal Tender Act, authorizing the use of paper notes to pay the government’s bills. This ended the long-standing policy of using only gold or silver in transactions, and it allowed the government to finance the enormously costly Civil War.
* On Feb. 27, 1915, “The Valley of Fear” by Arthur Conan Doyle is published. Sherlock Holmes had been a popular character since he first appeared in the story “A Study in Scarlet” in 1887. The detective was modeled partly on Dr. Joseph Bell, a medical-school teacher at the University of Edinburgh.
* On March 2, 1944, a train stops in a tunnel near Salerno, Italy, and more than 500 people on board suffocate and die. The train’s locomotives were burning low-grade coal substitutes that produced an excess of odorless and toxic carbon monoxide. Approximately 520 passengers were asphyxiated.
* On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps as a new agency within the Department of State, which would send trained American men and women to foreign nations to assist in development efforts.
* On Feb. 24, 1981, socialite Jean Harris is convicted of murdering Dr. Herman Tarnower, the author of the bestselling “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet.” Harris claimed that she had been trying to kill herself but that Tarnower was shot when he tried to wrestle the gun away from her. He was shot four times.
* On Feb. 28, 1993, at Mount Carmel in Waco, Texas, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) launch a raid against the Branch Davidian compound as part of an investigation into illegal possession of firearms and explosives by the Christian cult. During an extended gun battle, multiple agents and Branch Davidians were killed or wounded.