February 1950

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February 9, 1950: Senator McCarthy announces that he has a list of 205 names of Communist employees in the U.S. State Department
February 23, 1950: Asteroid 1950 DA discovered, 930 years before its possible impact with Earth
February 9, 1950: Element 98, first synthesized, dubbed Californium

The following events occurred in February 1950:

February 1, 1950 (Wednesday)Edit

  • U.S. President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 10104, adding another level of nondisclosure to United States government information. The first three levels ("restricted", "confidential" and "secret") were kept, but an even higher classification — "top secret" — was used for the first time.[1]
  • The United States Senate voted 64-27 in favor of a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would change the method of selecting the Electoral College. Under the proposal, which received the required 2/3rds majority, a state's electoral votes would be divided in proportion to the percentage of the popular vote that a presidential candidate received, rather than the winner in an individual receiving all of the electoral votes in that state.[2] The "Lodge-Gossett" bill failed a few months later to get approval in the U.S. House of Representatives.[3]

February 2, 1950 (Thursday)Edit

February 3, 1950 (Friday)Edit

February 4, 1950 (Saturday)Edit

  • U.S. Army Lieutenant General Leslie R. Groves testified in a closed hearing before a joint congressional committee in Washington that, as a result of the secrets that Dr. Klaus Fuchs had provided to the U.S.S.R., the Soviet Union had not only begun development of an atomic bomb arsenal, but that the U.S. was in a race against the Soviets on the development of the hydrogen bomb.[7]
  • Died: Montagu Collet Norman, 78, British financier, Governor of the Bank of England 1920-1944, nicknamed "The Sphinx of Threadneedle Street".[8]

February 5, 1950 (Sunday)Edit

  • The Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China signed a treaty in Moscow, for the return of the Port Arthur naval base territory to Chinese control. Located in Manchuria, Port Arthur had been under Russian control until 1905, when it was captured by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War and renamed Ryojun. The U.S.S.R. recaptured the port in 1945 during World War II, and would finally be turned over to China in 1955.[9]
  • Totocalcio the football pool for betting on soccer football matches in Italy, had its first big winner, when a miner from Sardinia, Giovanni Mannu, won 77,000,000 Italian lire for predicted all 12 of that weekend's matches correctly. The amount, worth $123,000 American at the time, would be equivalent to $1.1 million (or €850,000) in 2010.[10]
  • Born: Kate Braverman, American novelist, in Philadelphia

February 6, 1950 (Monday)Edit

  • The Air Force of the Republic of China, flying from the island of Taiwan made a successful bombing raid on the Communist Chinese mainland, striking the People's Republic's largest city, Shanghai; the 17 aircraft, including two B-29 bombers, targeted the power plants of Shanghai's electrical power plants, shutting down the electricity in 90% of the city.[11] According to the PRC, 500 people were killed, 600 were injured and 50,000 were left homeless by the raid.[12]
  • Born: Natalie Cole, American singer, in Los Angeles (d. 2015)
  • Died: Georges Imbert, 65, German chemist

February 7, 1950 (Tuesday)Edit

  • The United States gave diplomatic recognition to the newly established French-supported governments in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with the aim to help "the establishment of stable, non-Communist governments in areas adjacent to Communist China".[13]
  • Died: D. K. Broster, 72, British historical novelist

February 8, 1950 (Wednesday)Edit

  • The credit card was used for the first time, after loan company executive Frank X. McNamara and lawyer Ralph E. Schneider persuaded 14 New York City restaurants to accept the Diners Club card rather than cash. The 200 Diners Club members who had cards would be billed each month by the Club, which would pay the participating restaurants for the debt incurred.[14] Journalist Matty Simmons accompanied McNamara and Schneider to what is called, in credit card histories, "The First Supper" (actually, lunch) at Major's Cabin Grill, adjacent to the Empire State Building. At the end of the mail, McNamara handed the waiter a piece of cardboard, Diners Club card #1,000 and charged the meal; Schneider carried #1,001 and Simmons #1,002.[15]
  • In East Germany, the Ministerium fur Staatssicherhetsdienst, a secret police organization more commonly known as the "Stasi" rather than the MfS, was established. For nearly 40 years, the Stasi would spy, and maintain files, on every resident of the German Democratic Republic.[16]
  • The comedy film Francis starring Donald O'Connor, Patricia Medina and the voice of Chill Wills premiered in New Orleans, launching the Francis the Talking Mule film series which would consist of seven films through 1956.

February 9, 1950 (Thursday)Edit

  • In a speech to the Ohio County Republican Women's Club at the McClure Hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy opened the era of "McCarthyism" as he told listeners that Communists had infiltrated the U.S. State Department. Underscoring his point, McCarthy held up a piece of paper and said, "While I cannot take the time to name all of the men in the State Department who have been named as members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring, I have here in my hand a list of 205- a list of names that were known to the Secretary of State, and who, nevertheless, are still working and shaping the policy in the State Department."[17] The speech had been written by Ed Nellor of the Washington Times-Herald, whom McCarthy had approached to compose a short talk. Nellor had a list, obtained from Congressional staffer Robert Lee, of 57 State Department employees who were still being investigated by the House Appropriations Committee as possible security risks.[18][19]
  • Element 98 was created for the first time by a team of physicists at the University of California at Berkeley. Glenn T. Seaborg, Albert Ghiorso, Stanley G. Thompson and Kenneth Street, Jr., having named Element 97 berkelium, gave the name californium to the new element.[20]

February 10, 1950 (Friday)Edit

February 11, 1950 (Saturday)Edit

February 12, 1950 (Sunday)Edit

February 13, 1950 (Monday)Edit

February 14, 1950 (Tuesday)Edit

February 15, 1950 (Wednesday)Edit

  • Walt Disney released his 12th animated film, Cinderella, with a premiere in Boston, followed on February 22 in other major cities. The very successful film marked a "profitable return to the fairy tale" for Disney after the losing money on Fantasia and Bambi.[32]
  • The Italian-American neorealist film Stromboli premiered in American theaters, accompanied by a great deal of controversy surrounding an extramarital affair between director Roberto Rossellini and star Ingrid Bergman during the film's production.
  • Sardi's, a restaurant in the Theater District of Manhattan, began the tradition of hosting opening-night parties for plays premiering on Broadway, starting with a celebration for the cast and crew following Come Back, Little Sheba.[33]
  • Come Back, Little Sheba made its debut on Broadway, as the first play for William Inge. Actors Shirley Booth and Sidney Blackmer would both win Tony Awards for their performances in the play, which ran for 190 performances, and Booth would win an Academy Award two years later when she reprised her role as "Lola" in the film version of the play.[34]
  • Born: Tsui Hark (Tsui Man-kong), Hong Kong film director, in Haifeng, China

February 16, 1950 (Thursday)Edit

  • Electoral reform was enacted by Turkey's Grand National Assembly, adopting for the first time the secret ballot, open counting of ballots, and oversight of the selection of election judges. In the next election three months later, the Republican People's Party would lose its majority in Parliament after 27 years.[35]
  • France requested American economic and military assistance to aid French efforts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.[36]
  • Born:
    • Roman Tam, renowned Hong Kong singer nicknamed "Godfather of Cantopop", in Guiping, China (d. 2002)
    • Peter Hain, British cabinet minister, Leader of the House of Commons 2003 to 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya, British East Africa
  • Died:

February 17, 1950 (Friday)Edit

  • In the worst railroad accident in the New York metropolitan area, 29 commuters were killed and 105 injured in the collision of two Long Island Railroad trains. At 10:38 pm, eastbound Train No. 192 ran through a red light signal and crashed head on into the westbound Train No. 175 at Rockville Centre, New York. Together, the two trains carried "about 1,000 passengers" and were ripped down the center of the cars.[37][38]
  • King Abdullah I of Jordan and Mossad Director Reuven Shiloah of Israel met at the King's winter palace at El Shuneh, where the King presented a seven-point treaty proposal.[39]
  • Mao Zedong, the leader of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China, returned home from the Soviet Union after a stay of two months. Mao had arrived in Moscow on December 16, 1949, and remained there for nine weeks.[40]
  • Died: "Judy", 12, pointer dog for the British ship HMS Grasshopper, credited with saving the lives of its crew during World War II

February 18, 1950 (Saturday)Edit

February 19, 1950 (Sunday)Edit

  • The United States broke diplomatic relations with Bulgaria in the first American withdrawal of representatives since World War II. The move followed Bulgaria's refusal to drop espionage charges against American foreign officer Donald R. Heath. The 12 members of the Bulgarian mission in Washington were ordered to leave, and the 38 American diplomats in Sofia were directed to leave as soon as possible.[44]
  • The demotion of Soviet Communist Party Politburo member Andrey Andreyevich Andreyev began when an unsigned editorial appeared in the official Party newspaper, Pravda. Entitled "Against Distortions in the Organization of the Kolkhoz", the article criticized Andreyev for his attempt to change the format of collective farming by advocating smaller groups of laborers ("links") instead of the larger "brigades", making him the scapegoat for a policy that had been in place since 1939.[45]
  • The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier topped The New York Times Fiction Best Seller list.

February 20, 1950 (Monday)Edit

  • U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy elaborated on his charges of Communism in the U.S. State Department, giving a five-hour speech on the floor of the Senate in Washington, D.C. In the speech read into the Congressional Record, McCarthy revised his charge of 205 or 57 Communists in the State Department, to 81.[46]
  • Born: Tony Wilson, English music producer, in Salford, Greater Manchester (d. 2007)
  • Died: Sarat Chandra Bose, 60, Indian independence fighter

February 21, 1950 (Tuesday)Edit

  • The first International Pancake Race was staged between competitors at Olney, Buckinghamshire (which had started the tradition in 1445) in England, and in Liberal, Kansas, in the United States. The President of the Jaycees service club in Liberal had read about the race and had written to the vicar of St. Peter's and St. Paul's Church in Olney, with the housewives in both towns trying to make the best time in the race. The two towns have competed on every Shrove Tuesday since then.[47]
  • WOI-TV began broadcasting from studios at Iowa State University in Ames, becoming the first regular broadcaster of educational television. As the first TV station to cover most of Iowa, WOI also carried some programming from commercial networks; the first fully noncommercial educational TV station would be KUHT of the University of Houston, which signed on May 25, 1953.[48]

February 22, 1950 (Wednesday)Edit

  • Egypt and Israel signed a General Armistice Agreement at Auja al-Hafir, a town on the border between the two nations. The Agreement defined the boundaries of the Gaza Strip as a neutral zone between the Muslim and Jewish countries, which had fought a war less than two years earlier.[49]
  • The National Intercollegiate Recreational Sports Association was created by agreement of representatives from eleven historically black colleges (Albany State College, Arkansas A&M College, Bethune-Cookman College, Dillard University, North Carolina College, Southern University, Texas Southern University, Tillotson College, Tuskegee Institute, Wiley College, and Xavier University).[50]
  • Born:

February 23, 1950 (Thursday)Edit

  • In elections for the United Kingdom's House of Commons, the Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Clement Attlee, retained its majority despite losing 78 seats. Labour went from having 393 of the 617 seats to a slim majority of 315 of 617. Winston Churchill's Conservative Party increased its share from 197 to 282.[51] Attlee was able to form a new government and continue as Prime Minister.
  • Asteroid 1950 DA was discovered by astronomers only five million miles from Earth, then tracked for 17 days as the distance increased. On December 31, 2000, the last day of the 20th century, it would be seen again and measured at 0.7 miles in diameter. The trajectory of 1950 DA was calculated by NASA's Near Earth Object Program from the two appearances, and the asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth on March 16, 2880, with a chance of 1 in 300 of a collision, the highest probability so far noted of any possible impact.[52]
  • The British thriller film Stage Fright directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding and Richard Todd was released.

February 24, 1950 (Friday)Edit

  • The Regents of the University of California voted 12-6 to require all employees of the university system to sign a loyalty oath that included a statement specifically disavowing support of Communism, and to dismiss, by June 30, any faculty member or other employee who refused to agree.[53] The 31 professors who were dismissed would bring suit, and the oath would be overturned by the California Supreme Court on October 17, 1952, in the case of Tolman v. Underhill.[54]
  • China's Communist government issued the "Circular on Strict Prohibition of Opium and Drug Taking", outlawing the manufacture, transportation, trafficking and use of narcotics, as well as cigarettes. Users were required to register with the local authorities and to give up their addictions with a specified time, or face punishment. The punishment of drug dealers was, at first, lenient.[55]
  • Construction began on the "Beijing City Local Qinghe State Farm", promoted as a "model labor camp" that would house 5,000 inmates.[56]
  • Representatives of Israel and Jordan initialed a five-year peace treaty that provided for joint control of Jerusalem and commerce between the two nations, but the pact was not approved by either side.[57]

February 25, 1950 (Saturday)Edit

February 26, 1950 (Sunday)Edit

February 27, 1950 (Monday)Edit

February 28, 1950 (Tuesday)Edit

  • U.S. Undersecretary of State John Peurifoy testified to a Senate subcommittee that most of the 91 U.S. State Department employees who had been dismissed as security risks, weren't barred because of Communist leanings, but because they were homosexual. The result was a wave of investigations and dismissals of gays and lesbians from federal government employment.[63]
  • Morris Fidanque de Castro was appointed as the first native-born Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, after the assembly of the U.S. territory passed a resolution asking U.S. President Truman to select "one of their own" to fill a vacancy in the office.[64]
  • Died: Dai Wangshu, 44, Chinese poet


  1. ^ Herbert N. Foerstel, Free Expression and Censorship in America: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Publishing, 1997) p159
  2. ^ "Speedy Action on Electoral Change Seen", "Oakland Tribune", February 2, 1950, p1
  3. ^ "Electoral college reform plans", in Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections (Infobase Publishing, 2009)) p137
  4. ^ Nicholas Tarling, 'The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: From World War II to the Present, Volume 2 (Cambridge University Press, 2000) p39
  5. ^ "Tonight Ends Run of 'What's My Line' on TV— Its 17 Years on Air Is 2nd Only to Sullivan", Chicago Tribune, September 3, 1967, p3-16
  6. ^ "SCIENTIST HELD AS ATOM SPY", Pittsburgh Press, February 3, 1950, p1
  7. ^ "Spy Gave H-Bomb Secret To Reds, Probers Believe", "Miami Daily News", February 4, 1950, p1
  8. ^ "Lord Norman Dies At 78, Famous British Banker", "Miami Daily News", February 5, 1950, p3-A
  9. ^ "Port Arthur", in Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements: N to S, by Edmund Jan Osmańczyk and Anthony Mango (Taylor & Francis, 2003) p1823
  10. ^ Simon Martin, Sport Italia: The Italian Love Affair with Sport (I.B.Tauris, 2011) p130
  11. ^ Martin L. Lasater and Peter Kien-hong Yu, Taiwan's Security in the Post-Deng Xiaoping Era (Frank Cass Publishers, 2000) p177
  12. ^ Paul Pickowicz, Dilemmas of Victory: The Early Years of the People's Republic of China (Harvard University Press, 2007) p71
  13. ^ Michael J. Lacey, ed., The Truman Presidency (Cambridge University Press, 1991) p353
  14. ^ "A historical look at the origins of the credit card", by Brian Milner, Toronto Globe and Mail, August 22, 1950
  15. ^ Matty Simmons, Fat, Drunk, and Stupid: The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House (Macmillan, 2012) p10;
  16. ^ Jeffrey Herf, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (Harvard University Press, 1997) p108
  17. ^ "State Department Run By Reds, Says Senator", Oakland Tribune, February 10, 1950, p2; Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (W. W. Norton & Company, 2001) p377
  18. ^ Arthur Herman, Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator (Simon and Schuster, 1999) pp97-98
  19. ^ Edwin R. Bayley, Joe McCarthy and the Press (University of Wisconsin Press, 1981)
  20. ^ Glenn T. Seaborg, The Transuranium Elements (Taylor & Francis, 1958) p157
  21. ^ Tom Griffiths, Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica (Harvard University Press, 2007) p100
  22. ^ Raymond P. Ojserkis, Beginnings of the Cold War Arms Race: The Truman Administration and the U.S. Arms Build-Up (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003) p180
  23. ^ Jerome Klinkowitz, Vonnegut in Fact: The Public Spokesmanship of Personal Fiction (University of South Carolina Press, 1998) p2
  24. ^ "European Broadcasting Union", Encyclopedia of Television, Horace Newcomb, ed. (CRC Press, 2004) p820
  25. ^ "B36 DOWN OFF VANCOUVER", "Miami Daily News", February 14, 1950, p1
  26. ^ "Fat Man", in The A to Z of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare, Benjamin C. Garrett and John Hart, eds. (Scarecrow Press, 2009) p74
  27. ^ "Clues Found To Location Of 5 Lost B-36 Airmen", "Miami Daily News", February 17, 1950, p1; Dirk Septer, Lost Nuke: The Last Flight of Bomber 075 (Heritage House Publishing, 2012)
  28. ^ "Thorpe Voted Best Athlete Of Five Decades", San Mateo Times, February 13, 1950, p11
  29. ^ "Babe Zaharias Wins Overwhelming Ballot as Greatest Woman Athlete", San Mateo Times, February 14, 1950, p18
  30. ^ Dieter Heinzig, The Soviet Union and Communist China, 1945-1950: The Arduous Road to the Alliance (M.E. Sharpe, 2004) pp364-368
  31. ^ Bruce A. Elleman, Naval Power and Expeditionary Warfare: Peripheral Campaigns and New Theatres of Naval Warfare (Taylor & Francis, 2011) p144
  32. ^ Pat Williams, with Jim Denney, How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life (HCI, 2004) p161; imdb.com
  33. ^ Ken Bloom, Broadway: An Encyclopedia (Taylor & Francis, 2003) p482
  34. ^ "Come Back, Little Sheba", in The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre by Don B. Wilmeth (Cambridge University Press, 2007) pp 177-178
  35. ^ Mehmet Merdan Hekimoglu, Constitutional Developments Of Turkey Since Ottoman Times To The Present State Of The Modern Turkish Republic (GRIN Verlag, Oct 15, 2010) p27
  36. ^ Kathryn C. Statler, Replacing France: The Origins of American Intervention in Vietnam (University Press of Kentucky, 2007)
  37. ^ "29 Dead In Long Island Wreck", "Miami Daily News", February 18, 1950, p1
  38. ^ Edgar A. Haine, Railroad Wrecks (Associated University Presses, 1993) pp123-124
  39. ^ Ilan Pappé, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951 (I.B.Tauris, 1994) pp259-260
  40. ^ Xiaoming Zhang, Red Wings over the Yalu: China, the Soviet Union, and the Air War in Korea (Texas A&M University Press, 2003) p80
  41. ^ "Voegeler Confesses 'Spying', Begs For Hungary's Mercy", "Miami Daily News", February 18, 1950, p1
  42. ^ "Hungary Sentences Vogeler To 15 Years", "Miami Daily News", February 21, 1950, p1
  43. ^ "America and Britain in the Dock", from Hugo Dewar, The Modern Inquisition (Allan Wingate Publishing, 1953), in marxists.org
  44. ^ "U.S. Breaks Ties With Bulgaria", Pittsburgh Press, February 21, 1950, p1
  45. ^ The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960) p529
  46. ^ Alan Axelrod, The Real History of the Cold War: A New Look at the Past (Sterling Publishing Company, 2009) p281; "McCarthy Bets Senate Seat on Red Charges", Milwaukee Sentinel, February 21, 1950, p1
  47. ^ Pam Grout, Kansas Curiosities, 3rd: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff (Globe Pequot, 2010) p258; Race website
  48. ^ L. Paul Saettler, The Evolution of American Educational Technology (International Age Publishing, 2004) p363
  49. ^ "International Boundary Study: Israel - Egypt Boundary" Archived 2012-05-03 at the Wayback Machine, U.S. Department of State, April 1, 1965
  50. ^ NIRSA.org
  51. ^ Frank Conley, General Elections Today (Manchester University Press ND, 1994) pp19-22
  52. ^ R.M. Bonnet and Lodewyk Woltjer, Surviving 1000 Centuries: Can We Do It? (Springer, 2008) p. 77; Asteroid 1950 DA
  53. ^ Ed Cray, Chief Justice: A Biography of Earl Warren (Simon and Schuster, 1997) p203
  54. ^ Wilson Smith and Thomas Bender, American Higher Education Transformed, 1940--2005: Documenting the National Discourse (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) p462
  55. ^ Sarah Biddulph, Legal Reform and Administrative Detention Powers in China (Cambridge University Press, 2007) p77
  56. ^ Klaus Mühlhahn, Criminal Justice in China: A History (Harvard University Press, 2009) p248
  57. ^ Peter L. Hahn, Caught in the Middle East: U.S. Policy toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1945-1961 (University of North Carolina Press, 2006) p90
  58. ^ Karin Adir, The Great Clowns of American Television (McFarland, 2001) p70
  59. ^ "Strand Magazine Dies After 59 Historic Years", "Miami Sunday News", February 26, 1950, p1
  60. ^ Brian Clegg, Armageddon Science: The Science of Mass Destruction (Macmillan, 2010) p77
  61. ^ Richard Michael Gibson, The Secret Army: Chiang Kai-shek and the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle (John Wiley & Sons, 2011)
  62. ^ Bernard Seytre, The Death of a Disease: A History of the Eradication of Poliomyelitis (Rutgers University Press, 2005) p78
  63. ^ Robert J. Corber, In the Name of National Security: Hitchcock, Homophobia, and the Political Construction of Gender in Postwar America (Duke University Press, 1996)
  64. ^ Judah M. Cohen, Through the Sands of Time: A History of the Jewish Community of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (University Press of New England, 2012) p200