February 17

1801 - The U.S. House of Representatives broke an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Jefferson was elected president and Burr became vice president. 

1817 - The first gaslit streetlights appeared on the streets of Baltimore, MD. 

1865 - Columbia, SC, burned. The Confederates were evacuating and the Union Forces were moving in. 

1876 - Julius Wolff was credited with being the first to can sardines. 

1878 - In San Francisco, CA, the first large city telephone exchange opened. It had only 18 phones. 

1897 - The National Congress of Mothers was organized in Washington, DC, by Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. It was the forerunner of the National PTA. 

1913 - The Armory Show opened at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. The full-scale exhibition was of contemporary paintings and was organized by the Association of Painters and Sculptors. 

1924 - Swimmer Johnny Weissmuller set a world record in the 100-yard freestyle. He did it with a time of 57-2/5 seconds in Miami,FL. 

1933 - "Newsweek" was first published. 

1933 - Blondie Boopadoop married Dagwood Bumstead three years after Chic Young’s popular strip first debuted. 

1934 - The first high school automobile driver’s education course was introduced in State College, PA. 

1944 - During World War II, the Battle of Eniwetok Atoll began. U.S. forces won the battle on February 22, 1944. 

1947 - The Voice of America began broadcasting to the Soviet Union. 

1964 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that congressional districts within each state had to be approximately equal in population. (Westberry v. Sanders) 

1965 - Comedienne Joan Rivers made her first guest appearances on " The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson" on NBC-TV. 

1968 - The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame opened in Springfield, MA. 

1985 - U.S. Postage stamp prices were raised from 20 cents to 22 cents for first class mail. 

1992 - In Milwaukee, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to life in prison. In November of 1994, he was beaten to death in prison. 

1995 - Colin Ferguson was convicted of six counts of murder in the December 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings. He was later sentenced to a minimum of 200 years in prison. 

1996 - World chess champion Garry Kasparov beat the IBM supercomputer "Deep Blue" in Philadelphia, PA. 

1997 - Pepperdine University announced that Kenneth Starr was leaving the Whitewater probe to take a full-time job at the school. Starr reversed the announcement four days later. 

2005 - U.S. President George W. Bush named John Negroponte as the first national intelligence director.