February 23

303   Emperor Diocletian orders the general persecution of Christians in Rome.
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 arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to help to train the Continental Army, teaching the essentials of military drills, tactics, and disciplines. He will go on to serve as General George Washington’s chief of staff in the final years of the Revolutionary War. [From MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History]
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 in Devon, England 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 United States 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 of Art exhibits a collection of Hapsburg art; the first showing of this collection in the United States
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 United States and Britain recognize the new Zanzibar government.
1967   American troops begin the largest offensive of the Vietnam 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; he was the 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; he developed the CAT scan.

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