On This Day In History February

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 5 is the 36th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 329 days remaining until the end of the year (330 in leap years).

On this day in 1917, with more than a two-thirds majority, Congress overrides President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the previous week and passes the Immigration Act.. The law required a literacy test for immigrants and barred Asiatic laborers, except for those from countries with special treaties or agreements with the United States, such as the Philippines.

The Immigration Act of 1917, also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, added to the number of undesirables banned from entering the country, including but not limited to “idiots”, “feeble-minded persons”, “criminals”, “epileptics”, “insane persons”, alcoholics, “professional beggars”, all persons “mentally or physically defective”, polygamists, and anarchists. Furthermore, it barred all immigrants over the age of sixteen who were illiterate. The most controversial part of the law was the section that designated an “Asiatic Barred Zone”, a region that included much of eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands from which people could not immigrate. Previously, only the Chinese had been excluded from admission to the country. Attempts at introducing literacy tests had been vetoed by Grover Cleveland in 1897 and William Taft in 1913. Wilson also objected to this clause in the Immigration Act but it was still passed by Congress on the fourth attempt.

Anxiety in the United States about immigration has often been directed toward immigrants from China and Japan. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barred Chinese from entering the U.S. The Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 was made with Japan to regulate Japanese immigration to the U.S. The Immigration Act of 1917 is one of many immigration acts during this time period which arose from nativist and xenophobic sentiment. These immigration laws were intentional efforts to control the composition of immigrant flow into the United States.

 62 – Earthquake in Pompeii, Italy.

1576 – Henry of Navarre abjures Catholicism at Tours and rejoins the Protestant forces in the French Wars of Religion.

1597 – A group of early Japanese Christians are killed by the new government of Japan for being seen as a threat to Japanese society.

1631 – Roger Williams emigrates to Boston.

1778 – South Carolina becomes the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

1782 – Spanish defeat British forces and capture Minorca.

1783 – In Calabria a sequence of strong earthquakes begins.

1810 – Peninsular War: Siege of Cadiz begins.

1818 – Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte ascends to the thrones of Sweden and Norway.

1852 – The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, one of the largest and oldest museums in the world, opens to the public.

1859 – Wallachia and Moldavia are united under Alexander John Cuza as the United Principalities, an autonomous region within the Ottoman Empire, which ushered the birth of the modern Romanian state.

1869 – The largest alluvial gold nugget in history, called the “Welcome Stranger”, was found in Moliagul, Victoria, Australia.

1885 – King Leopold II of Belgium establishes the Congo as a personal possession.

1900 – The United States and the United Kingdom sign a treaty for the Panama Canal

1913 – Greek military aviators, Michael Moutoussis and Aristeidis Moraitinis performed the first naval air mission in history, with a Farman MF.7 hydroplane.

1917 – The current constitution of Mexico is adopted, establishing a federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

1917 – The Congress of the United States passes the Immigration Act of 1917 over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. Also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, it forbade immigration from nearly all of south and southeast Asia.

1918 – Stephen W. Thompson shoots down a German airplane. It is the first aerial victory by the U.S. military.

1918 – SS Tuscania (1914) is torpedoed off the coast of Ireland, it is the first ship carrying American troops to Europe to be torpedoed and sunk.

1919 – Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith launch United Artists.

1924 – The Royal Greenwich Observatory begins broadcasting the hourly time signals known as the Greenwich Time Signal or the “BBC pips”.

1937 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposes a plan to enlarge the Supreme Court of the United States.

1939 – Generalisimo Francisco Franco becomes the 68th “Caudillo de Espana”, or Leader of Spain.

1945 – World War II: General Douglas MacArthur returns to Manila.

1946 – The Chondoist Chongu Party is founded in North Korea.

1958 – Gamel Abdel Nasser is nominated to be the first president of the United Arab Republic.

1958 – A hydrogen bomb known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the US Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, never to be recovered.

1962 – French President Charles De Gaulle calls for Algeria to be granted independence.

1963 – The European Court of Justice’s ruling in Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen establishes the principle of direct effect, one of the most important, if not the most important, decisions in the development of European Union law.

1972 – Bob Douglas becomes the first African American elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

1976 – The 1976 swine flu outbreak begins at Fort Dix, NJ.

1988 – Manuel Noriega is indicted on drug smuggling and money laundering charges.

1994 – Byron De La Beckwith is convicted of the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

1994 – During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina more than 60 people are killed and some 200 wounded as a mortar shell slams into a downtown marketplace in Sarajevo.

1997 – The so-called Big Three banks in Switzerland announce the creation of a $71 million fund to aid Holocaust survivors and their families.

2000 – Russian forces massacre at least 60 civilians in the Novye Aldi suburb of Grozny, Chechnya.

2004 – Twenty-three Chinese people drown when a group of 35 cockle-pickers are trapped by rising tides in Morecambe Bay, England.

Twenty-one bodies are recovered.

2004 – Rebels from the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front capture the city of Gonaives, starting the 2004 Haiti rebellion.

2008 – A major tornado outbreak across the Southern United States leaves 57 dead, the most since the May 31, 1985 outbreak that killed 88.

2009 – The United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Port Royal runs aground off Oahu, Hawaii, damaging the ship as well as a  reef.

Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Agatha of Sicily

         o February 5 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Constitution Day (Mexico)

   * Kashmir Day (Pakistan)

   * Liberation from the Alberoni Occupation (San Marino)

   * Weatherperson’s Day (United States)

   * Runeberg’s Birthday, where Runeberg’s tart are made specially for the holiday. (Finland)

   * Unity Day (Burundi)