February 8

1587

Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded.

1693

College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., received its charter, becoming the second institution of higher learning in the United States.

1870

The National Weather Service was established under the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

1904

The Russo-Japanese war began when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur in northeast China.

1915

D. W. Griffith's controversial epic, The Birth of a Nation premiered in Los Angeles.

1924

The gas chamber was used for the first time as a method of execution in the United States. Gangster Gee Jon was put to death at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City.

1960

The payola (pay for broadcast airplay) hearings opened in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dick Clark would testify in April.

1980

President Jimmy Carter revealed his plan to reinstate selective service draft registration.

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