February 1972

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February 21, 1972: Richard M. Nixon becomes first U.S. President to visit Communist China

The following events occurred in February 1972:

February 1, 1972 (Tuesday)Edit

February 2, 1972 (Wednesday)Edit

  • Following the funerals in Derry of 13 of the persons killed by British paratroopers in Northern Ireland on "Bloody Sunday", a mob, estimated at 25,000, poured into Dublin's Merrion Square and burned down the four story British embassy in Ireland. Due to threats and attacks earlier in the week, all important records had been removed and the building was unoccupied.[3]
  • Born: Naheed Nenshi, Canadian politician, Mayor of Calgary, in Toronto
  • Died: Genaro Vázquez, Mexican guerilla leader; Natalie Barney, lesbian pioneer

February 3, 1972 (Thursday)Edit

  • The 1972 Winter Olympics opened in Sapporo, Japan, with 1,006 athletes from 35 nations marching in the opening ceremony at Makomanai Stadium. Schoolboy Hideki Takada lit the Olympic flame.[4]
  • The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued new rules for cable television in the United States. American systems had to carry at least 20 channels (including public-access television). The reform opened the door for new cable television networks.[5]
  • "Tutankhamen's curse" claimed another victim nearly 3,300 years after the death of the boy pharaoh (1324 BC). As King Tut's mask was being placed on a plane to be taken from Cairo to Paris, the museum's Director of Antiquities, Gamal Mehrej, died.[6]

February 4, 1972 (Friday)Edit

February 5, 1972 (Saturday)Edit

February 6, 1972 (Sunday)Edit

  • Two weeks before his historic visit to the People's Republic of China, President Nixon secretly (and unsuccessfully) asked the Chinese government to arrange a meeting there with North Vietnam's peace negotiator, Lê Đức Thọ.[9]
  • Died: Llewellyn Thompson, former American Ambassador to the USSR

February 7, 1972 (Monday)Edit

February 8, 1972 (Tuesday)Edit

February 9, 1972 (Wednesday)Edit

  • The 1972 Iran blizzard ended after seven days, during which as much as 26 feet of snow buried villages in northwestern, central and southern Iran. An estimated 4,000 people were killed, particularly in the area around Ardakan.[15]
  • Died: Chico Ruiz, 33, Cuban-born American major league baseball player, was killed in a car accident a month after having become a U.S. citizen

February 10, 1972 (Thursday)Edit

  • In Calama, Chile, where it is said that no rain had fallen "for more than 400 years", rain fell in a downpour and caused mudslides.[16]
  • David Bowie opened his concert tour with his new alter ego of "Ziggy Stardust", starting at the Toby Jug Pub in Tolworth.[17]
  • American and South Vietnamese forces completed a 24-hour period of bombing strikes against North Vietnam, with almost 400 bombing strikes carried out in some of the heaviest raids of the Vietnam War.[18]
  • Ras Al Khaimah joins the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as its sixth nation.[19]

February 11, 1972 (Friday)Edit

February 12, 1972 (Saturday)Edit

February 13, 1972 (Sunday)Edit

  • The 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo ended. The Soviet Union had the most medals (16) and most gold medals (8), followed by East Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United States.[26]
  • The Tony Award-winning musical 1776 closed after 1,217 performances on Broadway.[27]

February 14, 1972 (Monday)Edit

February 15, 1972 (Tuesday)Edit

  • U.S. Patent No. 3,641,591 was granted to inventor Willem J. Kolff for the first artificial heart.[29]
  • José María Velasco Ibarra was overthrown as President of Ecuador. Velasco, who had been President on four other occasions, and was facing re-election, prepared to address the nation after learning that a coup d'état was planned. Upon arriving at the Channel 10 studios in Guayaquil, he was arrested, placed on an Ecuadorian Air Force plane, and flown to Panama. Velasco was replaced by General Guillermo Rodríguez Lara, who cancelled the election.[30]
  • The 1972 Yugoslav smallpox outbreak, officially the Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft, was signed in the Norwegian capital by Denmark, France, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden, to take effect April 7, 1974.[31]
  • Cod Wars: On the same day, Iceland announced that it was terminating prior fishing treaties with the United Kingdom and West Germany, and that, effective September 1, it would not permit fishing within 50 nautical miles (57.5 miles or 92.6 km) of its coastline.[32]
  • The United States granted copyright protection, for the first time, to sound recordings. Previously, only the written musical and lyrical compositions could be protected from reproduction.[33]
  • Ibrahim Hoti returned to Kosovo from Iraq, beginning the chain of events leading to a smallpox epidemic in Yugoslavia.[34]
  • Born: Jaromír Jágr, Czech hockey player, in Kladno, Czechoslovakia
  • Died: Edgar Snow, 66, author of Red Star Over China

February 16, 1972 (Wednesday)Edit

February 17, 1972 (Thursday)Edit

  • British Prime Minister Edward Heath narrowly won a vote in the House of Commons on whether to ratify the treaty for the United Kingdom to join the European Community. Heath turned the matter into a vote of confidence by pledging to resign and to call new elections in the midst of a crisis, saying that "If the House will not agree ... my colleagues and I are unanimous that in these circumstances, this Parliament could not sensibly continue." By a margin of only eight votes (309–301), the bill passed.[36]
  • The Volkswagen Beetle broke the record for the most popular automobile in history, as the 15,007,034th Beetle was produced.[37] Between 1908 and May 26, 1927, a total of 15,007,033 Model Ts had been produced.[38]
  • Born: Billie Joe Armstrong, American musician, lead singer of Green Day, in Oakland, California.

February 18, 1972 (Friday)Edit

  • In a 6–1 decision in the case of People v. Anderson (6 Cal.3d 628), California's Supreme Court declared that the death penalty law violated the State Constitution. The Court commuted the death sentences, of 102 men and five women on death row, to life imprisonment.[39]

February 19, 1972 (Saturday)Edit

  • Radio Hanoi broadcast a live press conference to display five newly captured American prisoners of war.[40]
  • The TV show All in the Family first aired what became its most famous episode, which ended with black musician Sammy Davis, Jr. giving a kiss on the cheek to America's most popular bigot, Archie Bunker.[41]
  • The Asama-Sansō incident, which would soon be watched on live television across Japan, began when five members of the Japanese Red Army began a standoff in a mountain lodge with a woman hostage.
  • Died: John Grierson, Scottish documentary filmmaker (b. 1898); jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan (shot and killed at Slug's, a New York bar, after completing a concert)[42]

February 20, 1972 (Sunday)Edit

  • In the United States sixty million people tuned in to watch live television coverage of President Nixon's Monday morning arrival in Communist China, starting at 9:30 pm EST, 6:30 pm PST. The three networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) split the cost of $8,300 per hour for satellite broadcasting during the eight-day visit, and each sent eleven persons on the trip.[43]
  • The best live performance of The Dark Side of the Moon by British progressive rock band Pink Floyd took place one year before the best-selling album was released.[44]
  • Died: Maria Goeppert Mayer, German physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1906); Walter Winchell, American journalist (b. 1897)

February 21, 1972 (Monday)Edit

  • At 11:30 a.m. in Peking (now Beijing), Richard M. Nixon became the first President of the United States to visit the People's Republic of China, ending more than 22 years of hostility between the two nations. Nixon greeted China's Prime Minister Zhou Enlai with one of the most famous handshakes in history. "When our hands met", Nixon would write later, "one era ended and another began", while Zhou told Nixon on their trip from the airport, "Your handshake came over the vastest ocean in the world – twenty-five years of no communication." [45]

February 22, 1972 (Tuesday)Edit

February 23, 1972 (Wednesday)Edit

February 24, 1972 (Thursday)Edit

  • Twenty-eight men on board the Soviet nuclear submarine K-19 were killed when fires broke out in three of its compartments while the sub was submerged. The twelve survivors remained trapped inside the sub as it was towed, over the next three weeks, from the Arctic Ocean back to the Kola Peninsula.[52]
  • For the first time since the Paris Peace Talks (concerning the Vietnam War) three years earlier, the two Communist delegations walked out of a session. The groups were protesting the recent surge in bombing by the United States. The talks resumed the following week.[53]
  • Born:

February 25, 1972 (Friday)Edit

February 26, 1972 (Saturday)Edit

February 27, 1972 (Sunday)Edit

  • The Addis Ababa Agreement (1972) was signed at the palace of Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie, bringing an end to the First Sudanese Civil War after more than 17 years and more than 500,000 deaths. Ezboni Mondiri Gwonza of the South Sudan Liberation Movement, and Sudan's Foreign Minister, Mansour Khalid, signed an agreement to end fighting in return for recognition by the Islamic governments of political and religious autonomy for the people living in the southern half of the nation. The agreement lasted until 1983, when fighting broke out again.[56]
  • The New York Times carried on its front page the troublesome World3 forecast of a group at MIT for the century ahead, writing that began "A major computer study of world trends has concluded, as many have feared, that mankind probably faces an uncontrollable and disastrous collapse of its society within 100 years unless it moves speedily to establish a "global equilibrium" in which growth of population and industrial output are halted." The study, soon published as The Limits to Growth, was funded by the Club of Rome.[57]

February 28, 1972 (Monday)Edit

  • Before departing People's Republic of China following an historic visit, President Nixon of the United States signed the Shanghai Communiqué with and Premier Zhou of China, setting out agreements to improve diplomatic relations and to prevent the hegemony of any nation (including the Soviet Union) over the "Asia-Pacific Region".[58]

February 29, 1972 (Tuesday)Edit

  • "We now have evidence that the settlement of the Nixon administration's biggest antitrust case was privately arranged between Atty. Gen. John Mitchell and the top lobbyist for the company involved", was the opener to Jack Anderson's syndicated column. "We have this on the word of the lobbyist herself, crusty, capable Dita Beard of the International Telephone and Telegraph Co. She acknowledged the secret deal after we obtained a highly incriminating memo, written by her, from ITT's files."[59] The subsequent investigation by the Nixon Administration into the source of leaked information was one of seven improper activities cited by the Watergate Committee in its final report.[60]
  • Born: Antonio Sabàto Jr., Italian actor, in Rome


  1. ^ Richard Breitman, et al., U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis (Cambridge University Press 2005), p427
  2. ^ Roger Bruns, Billy Graham: A Biography (Greenwood Press, 2004), pp122–123
  3. ^ "British Embassy Burned In Dublin", Winnipeg Free Press, February 2, 1972, page 1
  4. ^ Tom and Jerry Caraccioli, Striking Silver: The Untold Story of America's Forgotten Hockey Team (Sports Publishing, 2006), pp48–49
  5. ^ Patrick Parsons, Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television (Temple University Press, 2008), pp264–265
  6. ^ Sukhadev Prashad, World-Famous Supernatural Mysteries (Pustak Mahal, 1993), p61; "New Victim of Pharaoh's Curse?", Oakland Sunday Tribune, February 6, 1972, p1
  7. ^ "United Progressive Party", in An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945–1996 John E. Jessup, ed. (Greenwood Press, 1998).
  8. ^ "Central African Republic", in Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements, Volume 1 (Taylor and Francis, 2003), pp286–287
  9. ^ Larry Berman, No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam (Simon and Schuster, 2001), pp119–120
  10. ^ Anthony Corrado, et al, The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook (Brookings Institution Press, 2005), pp20–21
  11. ^ Peter Dorey, Wage Politics In Britain: The Rise And Fall Of Incomes Policies Since 1945 (Sussex Academic Press, 2001), p122
  12. ^ "Heart Attack Sidelines Bruce Gamble", Winnipeg Free Press, February 10, 1972, p46
  13. ^ Damien Cox and Gord Stellick, 67: The Maple Leafs, Their Sensational Victory, and the End of an Empire (J. Wiley & Sons Canada, 2006), pp71–73
  14. ^ "123-Day Dock Strike Settled", Oakland Tribune, February 8, 1972, p1
  15. ^ "Thousands Missing in Iran Snow", Oakland Tribune, February 10, 1972, p1
  16. ^ Mel Goldstein, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weather (Alpha Books, 2002), p37
  17. ^ Christopher Sandford, Bowie: Loving the Alien (Da Capo Press, 1998), p89
  18. ^ "400 Bombing Runs Hit Reds", Oakland Tribune, February 10, 1972, p1
  19. ^ Kourosh Ahmadi, Islands and International Politics in the Persian Gulf: The Abu Musa and Tunbs in Strategic Context (Routledge, 2008) p96
  20. ^ a b Oakland Tribune, February 11, 1972, p1
  21. ^ TIME February 21, 1972
  22. ^ "Irving Book Is Hoax, Says Time", Oakland Tribune, February 11, 1972, p1; "The Fabulous Hoax of Clifford Irving", TIME, February 21, 1972
  23. ^ "Barry Directs Nets To 129–121 Triumph", Bridgeport Telegram, February 12, 1972, p15; Peter Botte and Alan Hahn, Fish Sticks: The Fall and Rise of the New York Islanders (Sports Publishing LLC, 2002), p85
  24. ^ Antarctic Challenge: Conflicting Interests, Cooperation, Environmental Protection, Economic Development (Duncker and Humblot, 1984), p99
  25. ^ "The Fabulous Hoax of Clifford Irving", TIME, February 21, 1972; "Time Wins Right to Print Excerpts From Hughes Book", Oakland Tribune, February 11, 1972, p1; "Irving Book Is Hoax, Says Time", Oakland Tribune, February 13, 1972, p2;
  26. ^ "Medal Standings", Oakland Tribune, February 14, 1972, p37
  27. ^ M. Paul Holsinger, War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999), p38
  28. ^ "Nixon Lifts Some China Trade Bans", Oakland Tribune, February 14, 1972, p1
  29. ^ Ben Ikenson, Patents: Ingenious Inventions, How They Work and How They Came to Be (Black Dog Publishing, 2004) p16
  30. ^ John D. Martz, Politics and Petroleum in Ecuador (Transaction, 1987), pp88–89
  31. ^ Douglas J. Cusine and John P. Grant, eds., The Impact of Marine Pollution (Taylor and Francis, 1980), p184
  32. ^ John E. Jessup, An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996 (Greenwood Publishing, 1998) p300
  33. ^ Richard Schulenberg, Legal Aspects of the Music Industry: An Insider's View (Billboard Books, 1999), p202
  34. ^ "CNDLS". Archived from the original on 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  35. ^ Maldives Online Guide
  36. ^ "Heath's Government Survives by 8 Votes", The Post-Standard (Syracuse), p1
  37. ^ Volkswagen website Archived 2009-07-29 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Rudi Volti, Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), p49
  39. ^ "Death Penalty Is Illegal, High Court Rules" Oakland Tribune, February 18, 1972, p1
  40. ^ "Five New POWS on Hanoi Radio", Oakland Tribune, February 20, 1972, p1
  41. ^ Kathleen Fearn-Banks, Historical Dictionary of African-American Television (Scarecrow Press, 2006), p12
  42. ^ Frederick J. Spencer, Jazz and Death: Medical Profiles of Jazz Greats (University Press of Mississippi, 2002), p75; "Jazz Trumpeter Morgan Slain", Oakland Tribune, February 20, 1972, p36
  43. ^ "China TV Cost: Over $3 million", Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach CA), February 27, 1972, Tele-Vues section p23
  44. ^ Glenn Povey, Echoes: The Complete History of Pink Floyd (Mind Head Publishing, 2007) pp154-155
  45. ^ Yafeng Xia, Negotiating With the Enemy: U.S.-China Talks During the Cold War, 1949–1972 (Indiana University Press, 2006), p193; "Now, in Living Color from China", TIME Magazine, February 28, 1972
  46. ^ Rosemarie Said Zahlan, The Creation of Qatar (Barnes & Noble Books, 1979), p112
  47. ^ "From the Archives", The Guardian, February 23, 2009
  48. ^ "On This Day—23 February1972: Hijackers surrender and free Lufthansa crew". BBC. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  49. ^ Michael Newton (2002). The Encyclopedia of Kidnappings. Infobase Publishing. p. 175. ISBN 978-0816044870. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  50. ^ "Angela Freed as Judge Grants Bail", Oakland Tribune, February 24, 1972. Rodger McAfee's neighbors in Caruthers, California, were infuriated and his four sons were expelled from school."Freed Angela", TIME Magazine, March 6, 1972
  51. ^ Lead in the Human Environment: A Report (National Academy of Sciences, 1980), p469
  52. ^ Norman Polmar and Kenneth J. Moore, Cold War Submarines: The Design and Construction of U.S. and Soviet Submarines (Brassey's, 2004), p113
  53. ^ "Reds Walk Out of Paris Talk", Oakland Tribune, February 24, 1972, p1
  54. ^ "Miners Vote, End Strike", Oakland Tribune, February 25, 1972, p1
  55. ^ "Buffalo Creek Disaster". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved April 27, 2005.
  56. ^ Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins, Requiem for the Sudan: War, Drought, and Disaster Relief on the Nile (Westview Press, 1995), pp 7–10
  57. ^ Charles T. Rubin, The Green Crusade: Rethinking the Roots of Environmentalism (Rowman and Littlefield, 1994), p130; "Mankind Warned of Perils in Growth", New York Times, February 27, 1972, p1
  58. ^ Robert G. Sutter, Historical Dictionary of United States-China Relations (Scarecrow Press 2006), p152
  59. ^ "Mitchell Settled ITT Case", Jack Anderson, San Antonio News-Express, February 29, 1972, p7-B
  60. ^ The Senate Watergate report: The Final Report (1974), p206