This Day in History: Feb. 18

Workers try to remove Dale Earnhardt (3) from his vehicle after a crash also involving Ken Schrader (36) during the Daytona 500 in this Feb. 18, 2001, photo at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Earnhart was killed in the crash. (AP Photo/Greg Suvino)

On this day, Feb. 18 …

2001: Auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. dies in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49.

Also on this day:

  • 1546: Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, dies in Eisleben.
  • 1861: Jefferson Davis is sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Ala.
  • 1913: Mexican President Francisco I. Madero and Vice President Jose Maria Pino Suarez are arrested during a military coup. (Both would be shot to death on Feb. 22).
  • 1930: Photographic evidence of Pluto (now designated a “dwarf planet”) is discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.
  • 1943: Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wife of the Chinese leader, addresses members of the Senate and then the House, becoming the first Chinese national to address both houses of the U.S. Congress.
  • 1970: The “Chicago Seven” defendants are found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention; five are convicted of violating the Anti-Riot Act of 1968. (Those convictions would be later reversed).
  • 1972: The California Supreme Court strikes down the state’s death penalty.
  • 1977: The space shuttle prototype Enterprise, sitting atop a Boeing 747, goes on its debut “flight” above Edwards Air Force Base in California.
  • 1983: In what became known as the “Wah Mee Massacre,” 13 people are shot to death at a gambling club in Seattle’s Chinatown. (Two men would be convicted of the killings and are serving life sentences; a third would be found guilty of robbery and assault.)

  • 1988: Anthony M. Kennedy is sworn in as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • 1997: Astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery complete their tune-up of the Hubble Space Telescope after 33 hours of spacewalking; the Hubble is then released using the shuttle’s crane.
  • 2009: President Obama launches a $75 billion foreclosure rescue plan aimed at saving homes.
  • 2009: Eric Holder, the nation’s first Black attorney general, says in a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month that the United States is “a nation of cowards” on matters of race. 
  • 2009: Pope Benedict XVI receives House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Vatican, telling her that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life “at all stages of its development.”
  • 2014: Megan Rice, an 84-year-old nun, is sentenced in Knoxville, Tenn., to nearly three years in prison for breaking into a nuclear weapons complex and defacing a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium, a demonstration that exposes serious security flaws at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. (Two other activists receive sentences of just over five years.)

  • 2018: “Black Panther,” the Marvel superhero film from the Walt Disney Co., exceeds expectations to take in $192 million during its debut weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters. 

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