303 Emperor Diocletian orders the general persecution of Christians in Rome.
1516 The Hapsburg Charles I succeeds Ferdinand in Spain.
1540 Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado begins his unsuccessful search for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold in the American Southwest.
1574 The 5th War of Religion breaks out in France.
1615 The Estates-General in Paris is dissolved, having been in session since October 1614.
1778 Baron von Steuben joins the Continental Army at Valley Forge.
1821 Poet John Keats dies of tuberculosis at the age of 25.
1836 The Alamo is besieged by Santa Anna.
1846 The Liberty Bell tolls for the last time, to mark George Washington’s birthday.
1847 Forces led by Zachary Taylor defeat the Mexicans at the Battle of Buena Vista.
1854 Great Britain officially recognizes the independence of the Orange Free State.
1861 Texas becomes the seventh state to secede from the Union.
1885 John Lee survives three attempts to hang him in Exeter Prison, as the trap fails to open.
1898 Writer Emile Zola is imprisoned in France for his letter J’accuse in which he accuses the French government of anti-semitism and the wrongful imprisonment of army captain Alfred Dreyfus.
1901 Britain and Germany agree on a boundary between German East Africa and Nyasaland.
1904 Japan guarantees Korean sovereignty in exchange for military assistance.
1916 Secretary of State Lansing hints that the U.S. may have to abandon the policy of avoiding "entangling foreign alliances".
1921 An airmail plane sets a record of 33 hours and 20 minutes from San Francisco to New York.
1926 President Calvin Coolidge opposes a large air force, believing it would be a menace to world peace.
1936 In Russia, an unmanned balloon rises to a record height of 25 miles.
1938 Twelve Chinese fighter planes drop bombs on Japan.
1942 A Japanese submarine shells an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, the first Axis bombs to hit American soil.
1944 American bombers strike the Marianas Islands bases, only 1,300 miles from Tokyo.
1945 Eisenhower opens a large offensive in the Rhineland.
1945 U.S. Marines plant an American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
1946 Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita is hanged in Manila, the Philippines, for war crimes.
1947 Several hundred Nazi organizers are arrested in Frankfurt by U.S. and British forces.
1950 New York’s Metropolitan Museum exhibits a collection of Hapsburg art. The first showing of this collection in the U.S.
1954 Mass innoculation begins as Salk’s polio vaccine is given to children for first time.
1955 Eight nations meet in Bangkok for the first SEATO council.
1960 Whites join Negro students in a sit-in at a Winston-Salem, N.C. Woolworth store.
1964 The U.S. and Britain recognize the new Zanzibar government.
1967 American troops begin the largest offensive of the war, near the Cambodian border.
1972 Black activist Angela Davis is released from jail where she was held for kidnapping , conspiracy and murder.
1991 French forces unofficially start the Persian Gulf ground war by crossing the Saudi-Iraqi border.
Born on February 23
1633 Samuel Pepys, English diarist.
1685 George F. Handel, German composer.
1743 Meyer Amschel Rothschild, banker and founder of the Rothschild dynasty in Europe.
1868 W.E.B. [William Edward Burghardt] Du Bois, U.S. historian and civil rights leader, founder of what became the NAACP.
1883 Victor Fleming, film director (The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind)
1899 Erich Kastner, German poet, novelist and children’s author (Emil and the Detectives).
1904 William Shirer, CBS broadcaster and author (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich).
1924 Allan MacLeod Cormack, physicist, developed the CAT scan.