1534 England severed relations with the Roman Catholic Church. (See February 11th and February 25th entries.)
1751 James Madison was born.
1802 The U. S. Military Academy at West Point was established by law.
1910 Flarry Houdini became the first man to fly an airplane in Australia.
1926 The first liquid-fuel rocket was flown. (See March 23rd entry.)
This is the anniversary of the day President Thomas Jefferson signed a law establishing a great educational institution. The U. S. Military Academy at West Point, New York was born in 1802 on this date. Throughout its history, it has been far more than a military institute. We sometimes forget that, at a time when higher education was offered only to rich Americans, West Point offered it to those who merited it—regardless of their economic station. The long gray line of cadets produced great generals; but it has also produced distinguished presidents, corporate heads, and academic leaders. Its motto stands as solid as its reputation: “duty, honor, country.”
The first liquid-fueled rocket was flown on this date in 1926. Dr. Robert H. Goddard succeeded in his experiment in Auburn, Massachusetts. Ironically, few people noticed.
But if the U. S. was not interested in rocketry at the time, another country was. While the Second World War was raging, the young German scientist Wemher von Braun pushed the development of Goddard’s idea and created rocket-powered weapons like buzz bombs and missiles. After the war, von Braun came to the U. S. and helped guide our historic space program. Goddard’s idea finally flowered in his homeland after all.
On President James Madison’s birthday, consider how much influence an individual can have on the creation of a nation. born in Port Conway, Virginia, in 1751, Madison grew to become a key figure in the planning and ratification of the U. S. Constitution. In collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, Madison also wrote twenty-nine out of eighty-five issues of the Federalist Papers, a published commentary on the drafting of the Constitution. And as a member of the House of Representatives, Madison was also the sponsor of the Constitution’s first ten amendments. Later in life, Madison was elected president of the United States—chief executive of the nation’s constitutionally based government.
On this date in 1910, master magician Harry Houdini became the first man to fly an airplane over the Australian continent. He also drove a car for the first time on that trip. After he left, he never did either again. Just because you’ve done something once, doesn’t mean you have to do it again.