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1777 — Henry Clay was born in Hanover County, Virginia. Both a Senator and three-time Speaker of the House of Representatives, Clay was a strong proponent of the “American System” that benefited industry to a great extent. Styled “The Great Compromiser” and “The Western Star,” a Congressional panel in 1957 named Clay as one of the five all-time greatest Senators (along with John C. Calhoun, Robert La Follette, Robert Taft and Daniel Webster).
He died of tuberculosis in Washington, D.C. in 1852. Clay was 75-years-old. Subsequently he was the first person to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.
1861 — Beginning at 4:30 a.m., Confederate forces commenced their bombardment of Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina. Although the Union garrison returned fire, they were significantly outgunned and, after 34 hours, Major Robert Anderson agreed to evacuate.
Amazingly there was no loss of life on either side during the engagement, although a gun explosion during the surrender ceremonies two days later resulted in two Union deaths. The War Between the States had officially begun.
1908 — Robert Lee Scott, Jr. was born in Waynesboro, Georgia. He is best known for his book God is My Co-Pilot, a memoir about his time as a member of the 1st American Volunteer Group (“The Flying Tigers”) during World War II.
Scott shot down down 13 Japanese aircraft en route to becoming one of our earliest fighter aces of the War. He served in the United States Army Air Forces for 25 years and retired a Brigadier General in 1957. He died in his native Georgia in 2006. General Scott was 97-years-old.
1934 — The strongest surface wind gust ever recorded (to that point in history) is measured at 231 mph on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. The record stood for 62 years until a 253 mph gust was recorded at Australia's Barrow Island during Cyclone Olivia in 1996.
1945 — President Franklin D. Roosevelt died just months after winning an unprecedented fourth term. Our 32nd President, and perhaps the last liberal Democrat for whom I may ever hold a modicum of lasting respect, was a relatively young 63-years-old.
1961 — Russian (Soviet) cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to perform a manned orbital flight. His time in space lasted just under two hours.
1981 — The Space Shuttle Columbia launches in NASA’s first shuttle mission (STS-1) from the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida. The shuttle itself suffered an untimely demise shortly before the conclusion of its 28th mission (STS-107) on February 1, 2003.
1987 — The lovely and vivacious Brooklyn Decker was born in Kettering, Ohio. But the Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl is a Carolina girl at heart.
1989 — Sugar Ray Robinson, the undisputed best pound-for-pound boxer of all-time, died in Culver City, California. He compiled a 173-19-6 (108 KO, 2 NC) record over a career that spanned a quarter-century, including an almost unbelievable tally at one point of 128-1-2. He was 67-years-old.
1999 — President Bill Clinton is cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit. Scandalous, impeached, and ultimately disbarred, good ol’ Bill sure was fun.
2002 — Religion of Peace: Just seven months after 9/11, a female suicide bomber from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade detonated a bomb at the entrance to Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda open-air market, killing seven and wounding 104.
Information initially obtained from Wikipedia; confirmed and revised (when necessary) through various sources.