Every day of the year, something exciting, notable, or just downright strange has happened in Alabama history.
Scroll down and check out what happened THIS week.
February 6, 1852
The Alabama Insane Hospital, now known as Bryce Hospital, was established by the legislature. Built in Tuscaloosa in the Kirkbride design, the hospital is Alabama’s oldest and largest inpatient psychiatric facility. While the hospital spent many years on the forefront of mental health treatment, an increase in patients and decrease in funding eventually led to abysmal conditions that started a thirty-three-year legal battle in the US Supreme Court case Wyatt v. Stickney and the creation of the “Wyatt Standards” of mental health care. The hospital was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
February 7, 1956
Buford Boone, publisher of the Tuscaloosa News, wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial “What a Price for Peace.” Published the day after the University of Alabama expelled its first African American student, Autherine Lucy, the editorial denounced the university for submitting to the will of an angry mob. Despite negative publicity, threats, and even a lawsuit, Boone remained a voice of moderation throughout the civil rights movement as he called for an end to violence, condemned the Ku Klux Klan, and rebuked Gov. George Wallace. Boone passed away twenty-seven years to the date of the article on February 7, 1983.
February 8, 1815
British troops landed in Mobile to begin the Second Battle of Fort Bowyer, the last land battle between British and American forces in the War of 1812. Located near present-day Fort Morgan, the fort repelled a British attack in August 1814, preventing the British from marching westward to attack New Orleans from the north. Returning after their loss in the Battle of New Orleans, the British bombarded the fort at close range with cannons, howitzers, and mortars in a siege that lasted only three days. On February 13, however, the British received news of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war.
February 9, 1907
Pilot Charles A. Anderson, best known for his work at the Tuskegee Institute, was born in Pennsylvania. Though mainly self-taught, Anderson became the first African American to earn a commercial transport pilot license and, in 1934, completed the first transcontinental roundtrip flight by black pilots in his plane, the Booker T. Washington. Anderson moved to Tuskegee in 1940 to become chief civilian flight instructor at Kennedy Field and later Moton Field, where he trained many of the Tuskegee Airmen. Anderson founded the Negro Aviation International association in 1967 and was inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 1991.
February 10, 1881
The Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers, now known as Tuskegee University, was established by the legislature. The second black college in the state, the school soon hired Booker T. Washington and, through his leadership, rose to national prominence during the industrial education movement. While the school is best known for international icons like George Washington Carver and the Tuskegee Airmen, the university also created the first marching band at a historically black college and is home to the only black college school of veterinary science, which produces approximately 75% of the nation’s African American veterinarians. In 1974, the campus was designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site.
February 11, 1994
Astronaut Jan Davis returned to Earth on the Space Shuttle Discovery after completing 130 orbits. A native of Florida, Davis moved to Huntsville as an elementary school student and joined NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as an aerospace engineer in 1979. Over the course of her career, Davis flew on 3 Space Shuttle missions (including her first with fellow Alabamian Mae Jemison), logged more than 673 hours and 11 million miles in space, orbited the Earth 445 times, and held a number of leadership positions throughout NASA. Davis was inducted into both the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame and the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2001.
February 12, 1973
Navy Captain Jeremiah Denton Jr. was the first to disembark from the first planeload of US POWs released after the Vietnam War. Denton was captured by the North Vietnamese after being shot down during a bombing mission in July 1965 and spent ninety-one months as a POW, forty-eight of which were in solitary confinement. In 1966, Denton earned national attention by blinking T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse Code during an interview for a North Vietnamese propaganda film, confirming American fears that POWs were being subjected to torture. In 1981, Denton became the first Republican senator elected from Alabama since the end of Reconstruction.