Good News in History, February 22

237 years ago today, the first American ship to trade with China, Empress of China, set its sails from New York harbor.

The three-masted, square-rigged sailing ship also known as Chinese Queen, was the first American merchant vessel to enter Chinese waters from the newly independent United States, opening trade with the Qing Empire. The 360-ton vessel also transported the first official representative of the American government to Canton.

The Empress returned to New York on May 11, 1785 after a round-trip voyage of almost 15 months. Its syndicate of owners, including Robert Morris, were some of the richest men in the new nation. President Washington bought a set of Chinese porcelain tableware from the them—and the venture’s success encouraged others to invest in further trading with China. (1784)

35 years ago, China minted a silver 5-yuan to commemorate the voyage of the Empress.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • George Washington, the first U.S. president and influential Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, was born in Virginia (1732)
  • Tennessee adopted a new constitution that abolished slavery (1865)
  • The Norwegian figure skater (and film star) Sonja Henie followed up her Winter Olympics gold medal with an incredible 10th consecutive victory at the women’s World Figure Skating Championships in Paris (1936)
  • Barbara Jo Rubin became the first woman to win a U.S. thoroughbred horse race (1969)
  • China and the US agreed to establish diplomatic liaison offices (1973)
  • Start of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines (1986)

143 years ago today, Frank Woolworth opened the first of many 5-and-10-cent stores in Utica, New York.

His F. W. Woolworth Company was arguably the most successful American–and international—five-and-dime business, setting trends and creating the modern retail model, still followed worldwide today. Retail chains using the Woolworth name survive in Austria, Germany, Mexico and, until early 2009, the UK—with a copycat in Australia. (1878)

41 years ago today, in a stunning upset, the U.S. Olympic hockey team consisting of amateurs and college students, defeated the long-dominant and heavily-favored Soviet Union team, 4-to-3, on home ice, in Lake Placid, New York. This underdog’s victory over a hockey juggernaut, which later led to an American gold medal, was dubbed the ‘Miracle on Ice,’ and was voted the greatest sports moment of the twentieth century by Sports Illustrated.

Of the 20 players on Team USA, 13 eventually played in the NHL—but six of the Soviet Olympic athletes also joined NHL clubs, including Viacheslav Fetisov, who became a teammate of American Mike Ramsey on the 1995 Detroit Red Wings team that played in the Stanley Cup Final. WATCH the crowd go wild and hear the commentary in this ABC anniversary tribute… (1980)

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