Today in History: Able was I ere I saw Elba

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, Feb. 26, the 57th day of 2019. There are 308 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 26, 1904, the United States and Panama proclaimed a treaty under which the U.S. agreed to undertake efforts to build a ship canal across the Panama isthmus.

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On this date:

In 1616, astronomer Galileo Galilei met with a Roman Inquisition official, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, who ordered him to abandon the “heretical” concept of heliocentrism, which held that the earth revolved around the sun, instead of the other way around.

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from exile on the Island of Elba and headed back to France in a bid to regain power.

‘Able was I ere I saw Elba.’ Supposedly Napoleon said this palindrome to Barry Edward O’Meara who was his physician during his captivity on the island of Saint Helena.

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In 1829, Levi Strauss, whose company manufactured the first blue jeans, was born in Buttenheim, Bavaria, Germany.

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional act establishing Mount McKinley National Park (now Denali National Park) in the Alaska Territory.

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional act establishing Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

In 1929, President Calvin Coolidge signed a measure establishing Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

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In 1952, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that Britain had developed its own atomic bomb.

In 1984, the last U.S. Marines deployed to Beirut as part of an international peacekeeping force withdrew from the Lebanese capital.

In 1987, the Tower Commission, which probed the Iran-Contra affair, issued a report rebuking President Ronald Reagan for failing to control his national security staff.

In 1993, a truck bomb built by Islamic extremists exploded in the parking garage of the North Tower of New York’s World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others. (The bomb failed to topple the North Tower into the South Tower, as the terrorists had hoped; both structures were destroyed in the 9/11 attack eight years later.)

In 1994, a jury in San Antonio acquitted eleven followers of David Koresh of murder, rejecting claims they’d ambushed federal agents; five were convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

In 1998, a jury in Amarillo, Texas, rejected an $11 million lawsuit brought by Texas cattlemen who blamed Oprah Winfrey’s talk show for a price fall after a segment on food safety that included a discussion about mad cow disease.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama laid out his first budget plan, predicting a federal deficit of $1.75 trillion. General Motors Corp. posted a $9.6 billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2008. The Pentagon, reversing an 18-year-old policy, said it would allow some media coverage of returning war dead, with family approval.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama, speaking in St. Paul, Minnesota, said he would ask Congress for $300 billion to update aging roads and railways. Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill pushed by social conservatives that would have allowed people with sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse to serve gays.

One year ago: President Donald Trump, who had been highly critical of the law enforcement response to the Florida school shooting, told a roomful of governors at the White House that if he had been there, he would have rushed in, unarmed. A lawyer for former Broward County Sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson rejected accusations that Peterson had been cowardly during the school shooting; he said Peterson hadn’t gone inside the school because it sounded like the shooting was happening outside the building. Thousands of people from all walks of life, including former President George W. Bush and his wife, filed slowly past the casket of the Rev. Billy Graham in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Today’s Birthdays: Game show host Tom Kennedy is 92. Country-rock musician Paul Cotton (Poco) is 76. Actor-director Bill Duke is 76. Singer Mitch Ryder is 74. Actress Marta Kristen (TV: “Lost in Space”) is 74. Rock musician Jonathan Cain (Journey) is 69. Singer Michael Bolton is 66. The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn), is 65. Actor Greg Germann is 61. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is 61. Bandleader John McDaniel is 58. Actor-martial artist Mark Dacascos is 55. Actress Jennifer Grant is 53. Rock musician Tim Commerford (Audioslave) is 51. Singer Erykah Badu (EHR’-ih-kah bah-DOO’) is 48. Actor Maz Jobrani (TV: “Superior Donuts”) is 47. Rhythm-and-blues singer Rico Wade (Society of Soul) is 47. Olympic gold medal swimmer Jenny Thompson is 46. Rhythm-and-blues singer Kyle Norman (Jagged Edge) is 44. Actor Greg Rikaart is 42. Rock musician Chris Culos (O.A.R.) is 40. Rhythm-and-blues singer Corinne Bailey Rae is 40. Country singer Rodney Hayden is 39. Pop singer Nate Ruess (roos) (fun.) is 37. Tennis player Li Na is 37. Latin singer Natalia Lafourcade is 35. Actress Teresa Palmer is 33. Actor Alex Heartman is 29. Actress Taylor Dooley is 26.

Thought for Today: “Only the mediocrities of life hide behind the alibi ‘in conference.’ The great of this earth are not only simple but accessible.” — Isaac Frederick Marcosson, American journalist (1876-1961).

Copyright 2019, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.