Today in history: Feb, 23

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    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.

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