Feb. 1 (UPI) -- On this date in history:
In 1790, the U.S. Supreme Court convened in New York City for its first session.
In 1861, Texas seceded from the United States.
In 1865, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
In 1896, Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme premiered in Turin, Italy.
In 1946, Norwegian Trygve Lie was selected to be the first U.N. secretary-general.
In 1947, members of the Jewish underground launched pamphlet bombs throughout Tel Aviv, warning British military authorities to expect further retaliation against its drive to suppress violence in the Holy Land.
In 1951, the Defense Department, responding to needs to effectively execute its Korean War strategy, ordered drafting of 80,000 men during April for assignment to the U.S. Army.
In 1960, four African-American students, later known as the Greensboro Four, stage the first of a series of non-violent protests at a Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, NC.
In 1968, the communist Viet Cong began a major offensive in the Vietnam War with a fierce attack on the South Vietnamese city of Hue.
In 1978, famed director Roman Polanski escapes to France after pleading guilty to charges of having sex with an underage girl.
In 1991, South African President F.W. De Klerk announced he would seek repeal of key laws on which the apartheid system was based.
In 2003, the space shuttle Columbia broke apart during its descent over the southwestern United States. All seven astronauts aboard were killed.
In 2009, Iceland swore in its first female prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir.
In 2012, at least 73 people were killed and 200 hurt in a fight between fans and players at a soccer match in Port Said, Egypt.
In 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Syria's civil war "the most urgent security challenge in the world today." U.N. officials estimated more than 100,000 people had been killed since the conflict began in March 2011.