World Facts

What Happened On February 29th?

Occurring only on leap years, the unique date has seen its share of unique events.

A leap year has an additional one day as opposed to the common year with 365 days. Leap year is important because it helps to keep the Gregorian calendar in line with the revolution of the Earth around the sun. A leap year comes after every four years and was invented by Julius Caesar nearly 2000 years ago. Special events have taken place on February 29 which is celebrated only during the leap year. Some of the notable events include;


Abel Tasman sets out on his second Pacific voyage

Abel Tasman was a Dutch explorer famous for his voyages in 1642 and 1644 in the Dutch East India Company. He was the first. After making a successful voyage in 1642 to gather information on the unknown provinces of Beach, Tasman set out for his second voyage on February 29, 1644, following the South Coast of New Guinea to the north of Australian Coast. He managed to map out the New Holland but failed to find the Torres Straight. The voyage was a disappointment because he neither found a suitable area for trade nor a shipping route.

The Jay Treaty comes into effect

The Jay Treaty was proclaimed on February 29, 1796, after series of debates, close votes, and fights which began in 1794. The treaty was credited with averting war, resolving issues that were pending in the Treaty of Paris which was signed in 1783, and facilitating trade between the US and Britain. The treaty was designed by Alexander Hamilton who was the Secretary of Treasury and was supported by President George Washington and John Jay. However, the treaty was contested by Jefferson and Madison because they feared a closer relationship with Britain would strengthen Federalist Party which Hamilton belonged.

Actress Hattie McDaniel; the first African-American to receive an Academy Award or Oscar

Hattie McDaniel was an African-American comedian, actress, and songwriter. He was also television star and the first black American woman to sing on a radio in the US. She appeared on over 300 films Hollywood Walk of Fame despite receiving a screen credit for about 80 films. On February 29, 1941, McDaniel won the 12th edition of the Academy awards for her starring role in “Gone with the Wind.” The award was held at the Coconut Groove Club which discriminated against the black. McDaniel’s win did not come as a shock since the list of winners had been leaked before the show.

US General Douglas MacArthur commences taking the Admiralty Islands in New Guinea from the Japanese

Douglas MacArthur was an army officer and field marshal of the Philippine Army. H was also the Chief of Staff of the US Army and played an important role in the Pacific Theater. MacArthur began plans to take over Admiralty Islands from the Japanese in November 1943. Three months later, the airmen reported no signs of the enemy on the Island. However, MacArthur was not convinced by this report and ordered for landing on Los Negros Islands on February 29, 1944, marking the commencement of the Admiralty Island Campaign. The campaign ended on May 18, 1944, after the capturing of the islands by the 1st Calvary Division.

Bishop Desmond Tutu's Arrest

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, twenty-four other church leaders, together with over 100 civilians and journalists were arrested on February 29, 1988, for marching in Cape Town to protest the banning of the 17 anti-apartheid groups. They were arrested and detained briefly before their release. After their release, they vowed o continue with the restricted activities of the anti-apartheid organizations even if it meant breaking the law.

Notable Births And Deaths On February 29th

Some of the notable people born on February 29th include Gioachino Rossini (1972) who is the subject Google Doodle today, Ja Rule (1976), and Adolph Blaine, a Philadelphia typesetter with the longest sir name. People born on this day either celebrate their birthdays on February 28th or March 1st. Prominent death on February 29th include poet Ruth Pitter (1908) and Archbishop John Whitgift (1604). Sir James Wilson who was the premier of Tasmania is the only notable person to have booth been born and died on February 29th (1812-1880)

Events Occurring on February 29thYear
Abel Tasman sets out on his second Pacific voyage.1644
The Jay Treaty comes into effect, enhancing trade between the United States and Great Britain. 1796
Actress Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African-American to receive an Academy Award or Oscar.1940
U.S. General Douglas MacArthur commences taking the Admiralty Islands in New Guinea from the Japanese.
South Korea withdraws one-fourth of the troops it has deployed in Vietnam.1972
South African Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu is arrested in Cape Town for partaking in an anti-apartheid protest.1988
Svend Robinson becomes the first Canadian Member of Parliament to "come out" as being homosexual.1988
Voters go to the ballots for the Bosnian independence referendum.1992
A coup in Haiti removes President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power.2004
The Tokyo Skytree is completed.2012

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