Here are five notable events that happened on February 8, which has seen a range of essential events from entertainment to international conflict, historical drama, contentious film premieres, and financial innovation:
1. The Russo-Japanese War Begins (1904):
The Russo Japanese War began on February 8, 1904, marking a clash between the ambitions of Russia and Japan in Korea and Manchuria. This war holds importance as it showcased an instance in modern times where an Asian nation triumphed over a European power, signifying a shift in global power dynamics and Japan’s emergence as a significant player on the world stage.
Russia aimed to control Manchuria for economic benefits, seeking access to warm water ports. On the other hand, Japan sought to solidify its regional dominance while countering its influence in Korea. These conflicting objectives were at the core of the conflict.
With the declaration of war, intense battles unfolded on both land and sea during this period. Critical engagements included the Siege of Port Arthur, the Battle of Mukden (one of the land battles of World War I), and the crucial Battle of Tsushima. In this battle, Japan’s Navy inflicted significant damage on Russia’s Baltic Fleet, which had traversed vast distances to reach the Pacific theater.
The conflict started when the Japanese navy launched a surprise attack on the Eastern Fleet based in Port Arthur, now known as Lüshunkou, a naval stronghold on the Liaodong Peninsula in Manchuria.
The Russo-Japanese War concluded on September 5, 1905, with the Treaty of Portsmouth facilitated by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Under this agreement, Japan gained control over Port Arthur, the Liaodong Peninsula, and half of Sakhalin Island. Russia committed to withdrawing its presence from Manchuria, allowing Japan to establish a dominant position in the region.
The war’s aftermath had repercussions for both nations and the global community. Russia’s defeat exacerbated unrest. Set the stage for the 1905 Russian Revolution by highlighting deficiencies within the Tsarist regime and foreshadowing the eventual downfall of the Russian Empire. Meanwhile, Japan’s triumph solidified its status as a leading Western modern power globally, reshaping the balance of power between East and West and laying the groundwork for its expansionist endeavors in Asia.
2. Mary, Queen of Scots, Beheaded (1587):
After spending 19 years in prison amidst religious tensions, Mary, Queen of Scots, met her fate with execution at Fotheringhay Castle on February 8, 1587. This event marked a solemn moment in the history of the monarchy. The tumultuous and conflict-ridden life and rule of Mary reflected the struggles between Catholicism and Protestantism, as well as the complex power dynamics and succession issues within the British Isles.
Following her father’s passing in 1542, Mary Stuart ascended to the throne of Scotland as a child. Her Catholic beliefs and claim to the throne as Henry VII’s granddaughter stirred controversy in Protestant England. Her eventful reign in Scotland included a marriage to the French Dauphin ( King Francis II of France), a scandalous union with her cousin Lord Darnley that ended tragically with his murder, and her eventual forced abdication in favor of her infant son James VI of Scotland (who later became James I of England).
Mary sought refuge in England in 1568 under the protection of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. She found herself imprisoned instead. Many believed that Mary’s Catholic lineage made her the rightful ruler of England based on ancestry considerations.
During her time in captivity, Mary found herself at the center of plots aimed at overthrowing Elizabeth. The most notable of these schemes was the Babington Plot, a plan to assassinate Elizabeth and place Mary on the throne of England.
The execution of Mary held both sorrow and significant political consequences. It eliminated an opponent to Elizabeth’s reign and established a precedent for holding a ruling monarch accountable, impacting beliefs around divine rights and monarchy sanctity. Despite her reluctance to execute another ruler, Elizabeth had no choice but to convict Mary of treason due to her involvement in the assassination plot.
3. “The Birth of a Nation” opens in L.A. (1915):
The debut of D.W. Griffiths’s “The Birth of a Nation” in Los Angeles on February 8, 1915, marked a moment in the history of cinema. This film is renowned for its groundbreaking use of ups, parallel editing, sophisticated camera movements, and grand storytelling scale, setting benchmarks for filmmaking craftsmanship. However, “The Birth of a Nation” has also gained infamy for its depiction of African Americans and its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan, sparking controversies and protests since its release.
Based on Thomas Dixon Jr.’s novel “The Clansman,” the movie “The Birth of a Nation” presents an alternative narrative of the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods. It portrays African Americans—performed by actors in blackface—as menacing individuals pursuing white women and corrupt African American politicians. This portrayal reinforces stereotypes. Contributes to the propagation of racist beliefs across the nation.
Despite facing backlash, “The Birth of a Nation” achieved success. It was even shown at the White House during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency—an action that has been criticized for tacitly supporting the film’s racist undertones.
The movie’s release sparked protests and opposition from the NAACP, which initiated efforts to ban or censor the film due to its offensive nature and historical inaccuracies.
“The Birth of a Nation” has left behind a legacy. While it is considered groundbreaking in the realm of filmmaking, inspiring filmmakers and shaping the development of feature-length films as a form of artistic and storytelling expression, its racist themes and association with the KKK resurgence in the early 20th century have cemented its status as a representation of deep-rooted racism in American society.
4. Nasdaq Stock Market Begins Operations (1971):
The Nasdaq stock market, known as the world’s stock market, began operating on February 8, 1971. This event marked a milestone in history by making securities trading faster, more efficient, and more accessible to a broader range of participants. Unlike stock exchanges that relied on face-to-face transactions and physical trading floors, Nasdaq (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations) introduced trading. This shift allowed buy and sell orders to be matched instantly over a computer network, eliminating the need for presence and manual order processing.
The transition to trading via the Nasdaq platform brought about increased transparency, as traders could access real-time price information and execute trades from anywhere with an internet connection. The Nasdaq’s inclusive and technologically advanced platform attracted emerging technology and biotech firms, establishing itself as the preferred exchange for high-growth companies. This support helped finance the growth of companies that later became players in the economy while driving rapid expansion in the technology sector. The introduction of the Nasdaq also influenced which companies could participate in the stock market.
Big corporations have traditionally been the players in stock markets.
As technology and trading methods have evolved, Nasdaq has led the way by introducing communications networks (ECNs), automated trading systems, and various trading and investment products. Its advancements and achievements have influenced exchanges worldwide, leading to the use of trading and fostering the global expansion and connection of financial markets.
5. Construction Begins on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1960):
The Hollywood Walk of Fame construction began on February 8, 1960, in Hollywood, Los Angeles. It was created to honor the achievements and contributions of individuals in the entertainment industry, such as actors, musicians, directors, producers, and other prominent figures. Over time, the Walk of Fame has become a tourist spot, attracting millions of visitors yearly. People come to admire the stars embedded in the sidewalk, each representing a respected honoree recognized for their impact on entertainment.
The idea for the Walk of Fame originated from E.M. Stuart, who served as a volunteer president at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 1953. After years of planning and negotiations, construction finally commenced with the installation of eight stars in August 1958. The official launch date for the project was later set for February 1960. The primary goal behind establishing the Walk of Fame was to pay tribute to entertainment icons while promoting Hollywood and drawing attention from tourists.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame features over 2,600 terrazzo and brass stars, representing achievements in entertainment categories like movies, television, music, radio, and live theater. These stars adorn 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.
To receive a star on the Walk of Fame, individuals go through a nomination and voting process conducted by the Walk of Fame Committee. Nominees must have made contributions to the entertainment industry. I agree to attend the unveiling ceremony if selected. A fee paid to the Hollywood Historical Trust by nominators, friends, or the artist’s studio is used to create and maintain the star.