• On Feb. 1, 1790, the Supreme Court of the United States meets in New York City for the first time, with Chief Justice John Jay presiding. The U.S. Supreme Court was established by Article Three of the U.S. Constitution, which took effect in March 1789.
• On Feb. 7, 1812, the most violent of a series of earthquakes near Missouri causes a so-called fluvial tsunami in the Mississippi River, making the river run backward for several hours. The strongest of the aftershocks, an 8.8-magnitude, caused church bells to ring in Boston, over a thousand miles away.
• On Feb. 4, 1861, delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana convene to establish the Confederate States of America. Within two months, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee all had joined the Confederacy.
• On Feb. 6, 1891, three members of the Dalton Gang stage an unsuccessful train robbery in California — an inauspicious beginning to their careers as serious criminals. A year later, the gang botched another robbery, boldly attempting to hit two Kansas banks at the same time.
• On Feb. 3, 1953, French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau publishes “The Silent World,” a memoir about his time exploring the oceans. In 1950, Lord Guinness, a British patron, bought him an old British minesweeper to use for his underwater explorations. Cousteau christened it Calypso.
• On Feb. 2, 1980, details of ABSCAM, an FBI sting operation to uncover political corruption in the government, are released to the public. Thirty-one public officials were targeted. In the operation, FBI agents posed as representatives of a fictional Arab business, offering money in exchange for special favors.
• On Feb. 5, 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gives a speech to the United Nations justifying an invasion of Iraq that is full of fabrications. Powell later called it a “blot” on his record.
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