February 20 is the 51st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 314 days remaining, 315 in leap years.
- 1472 - Orkney and Shetland are annexed to the crown of Scotland.
- 1547 - Edward VI of England is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey.
- 1724 - The premiere of Giulio Cesare, an Italian opera by George Frideric Handel, takes place in London.
- 1725 - The first reported case of white men scalping Native Americans takes place in New Hampshire colony.
- 1792 - The Postal Service Act , establishing the United States Post Office Department, is signed by President George Washington.
- 1809 - A decision by the United States Supreme Court states that the power of the federal government is greater than any individual state.
- 1810 - Andreas Hofer, Tyrolean patriot and leader of rebellion against Napoleon's forces, was executed.
- 1835 - Concepción, Chile is destroyed by an earthquake
- 1864 - Battle of Olustee
- 1872 - In New York City the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens.
- 1873 - The University of California opens its first medical school in San Francisco, California.
- 1901 - The legislature of Hawaii Territory convenes for the first time.
- 1913 - King O'Malley drove in the first survey peg to mark commencement of work on the construction of Canberra.
- 1921 - The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse film, starring Rudolph Valentino, premieres.
- 1931 - California gets the go-ahead by the U.S. Congress to build the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
- 1942 - Lieutenant Edward O'Hare becomes America's first World War II flying ace.
- 1943 - American movie studio executives agree to allow the Office of War Information to censor movies.
- 1943 - Paricutín volcano begins to form in Paricutín, México.
- 1944 - World War II: "Big Week" begins with American bomber raids on Nazi aircraft manufacturing centers.
- 1944 - World War II: The United States takes Eniwetok Island.
- 1952 - Emmett L. Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League .
- 1952 - The film The African Queen opens at Capitol Theatre in New York City.
- 1959 - The Avro Arrow programme to design and manufacture supersonic jet fighters in Canada was cancelled by the Diefenbaker government amid much political debate.
- 1962 - Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn orbits the earth three times in 4 hours, 55 minutes, becoming the first American to orbit the earth.
- 1965 - Ranger 8 crashes into the moon after a successful mission of photographing possible landing sites for the Apollo program astronauts.
- 1974 - Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick claimed he began experiencing intense gnostic visions on this date.
- 1976 - The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization disbands.
- 1987 - Unabomber: In Salt Lake City, in the USA, a bomb explodes in a computer store.
- 1992 - Ross Perot announced his intention to run in the 1992 U.S. presidential election on CNN's Larry King Live.
- 2001 - FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested and charged with spying for Russia for 15 years.
- 2002 - In Reqa Al-Gharbiya , Egypt, a fire on a train injures over 65 and kills at least 370.
- 2003 - In Rhode Island, in the USA, The Station nightclub fire kills about 100 and injures over 200.
- 2005 - Spain becomes the first country to vote in a referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, passing it by a substantial margin, but on a low turnout.
- 2005 - Jeff Gordon wins his third Daytona 500.
- 1745 - Henry James Pye, English poet (d. 1813)
- 1751 - Johann Heinrich Voß, German poet (d. 1826)
- 1757 - John 'Mad Jack' Fuller, philanthropist and patron of the arts and sciences (d. 1834)
- 1839 - Revd Benjamin Waugh, founder of the NSPCC (d. 1908)
- 1844 - Ludwig Boltzmann, physicist (d. 1906)
- 1844 - Joshua Slocum, seaman and adventurer (d. 1909)
- 1848 - Edward Henry Harriman, railroad executive (d. 1909)
- 1887 - Carl Ebert , opera manager and director (d. 1980)
- 1887 - Vincent Massey, Governor-General of Canada (d. 1967)
- 1888 - Georges Bernanos, French writer (d. 1948)
- 1902 - Ansel Adams, American photographer (d. 1984)
- 1904 - Alexei Kosygin, Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1980)
- 1909 - Heinz Erhardt , German comedian (d. 1979)
- 1912 - Pierre Boulle, author (d. 1994)
- 1914 - John Daly, South African-American broadcaster (d. 2001)
- 1924 - Gloria Vanderbilt, clothing designer and entrepreneur
- 1925 - Robert Altman, film director
- 1925 - Whitney Blake , American actress (d. 2002)
- 1925 - Heinz Kluncker, labor union leader
- 1926 - Richard Matheson, author
- 1926 - Rob Richards , track and field athlete
- 1927 - Sidney Poitier, actor
- 1927 - Roy Cohn, American lawyer, and anti-Communist (d. 1986)
- 1931 - Amanda Blake, American actress (d. 1989)
- 1934 - Bobby Unser, American automobile racer
- 1936 - Larry Hovis, American actor (d. 2003)
- 1937 - Roger Penske, automobile racer
- 1937 - Nancy Wilson, singer
- 1938 - Richard Beymer, American actor
- 1941 - Buffy Sainte-Marie, American singer
- 1942 - Phil Esposito, hockey player
- 1943 - Mike Leigh, director
- 1945 - Brion James, American actor (d. 1999)
- 1946 - Brenda Blethyn, actress
- 1946 - Jerome Geils , musician (J. Geils Band)
- 1946 - Sandy Duncan, American singer and actress
- 1947 - Peter Osgood, English footballer
- 1947 - Peter Strauss, actor
- 1948 - Jennifer O'Neill, actress
- 1949 - Ivana Trump, Czech skier, fashion model, and socialite
- 1951 - Gordon Brown, British politician
- 1951 - Randy California, guitarist
- 1954 - Anthony Stewart Head, actor
- 1954 - Patty Hearst, socialite
- 1955 - Kelsey Grammer, actor
- 1959 - Scott Brayton , auto racer (d. 1996)
- 1963 - Charles Barkley, American basketball player
- 1966 - Cindy Crawford, American model
- 1967 - Kurt Cobain, American musician (d. 1994)
- 1971 - Jari Litmanen, Finnish footballer
- 1975 - Brian Littrell, musician (Backstreet Boys)
- 1977 - Stephon Marbury, basketball player
- 1980 - Imanol Harinordoquy, French rugby player
- 1985 - Yulia, musician (t.A.T.u.)
- 702 - Chan Bahlum II, king of the Maya state of Palenque (b. 635)
- 1171 - Conan IV, Duke of Brittany (b. 1138)
- 1194 - Tancred, King of Sicily
- 1258 - Al-Musta'sim, last Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad
- 1408 - Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland (b. 1342)
- 1431 - Pope Martin V
- 1579 - Nicholas Bacon, English politician (b. 1509)
- 1626 - John Dowland, English composer and lutenist (b. 1563)
- 1773 - King Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy (b. 1701)
- 1790 - Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1741)
- 1810 - Andreas Hofer, Tyrolean national hero, is executed by the French at Mantova
- 1871 - Paul Kane, painter (b. 1810)
- 1893 - P.G.T. Beauregard, Confederate general (b. 1818)
- 1895 - Frederick Douglass, American abolitionist writer (b. ca. 1818)
- 1920 - Robert Peary, explorer (b. 1856)
- 1966 - Chester Nimitz, American admiral (b. 1885)
- 1968 - Anthony Asquith, director, writer (b. 1902)
- 1969 - Ernest Ansermet, Swiss conductor (b. 1883)
- 1972 - Walter Winchell, journalist, (b. 1897)
- 1975 - Robert Strauss, American politician, diplomat
- 1980 - J.B. Rhine, parapsychologist and ESP researcher (b. 1895).
- 1983 - Ray Vitte , American actor
- 1985 - Clarence Nash, Disney voice actor (b. 1904)
- 1992 - Dick York, actor (b. 1928)
- 1992 - Roberto D'Aubuisson, Salvadoran politician
- 1993 - Ferrucio Lamborghini , Italian automobile manufacturer
- 1996 - Toru Takemitsu, Japanese composer (b. 1930)
- 1996 - Solomon Asch, psychologist (b. 1907)
- 1999 - Sarah Kane, playwright (b. 1971)
- 1999 - Gene Siskel, film critic (b. 1946)
- 2000 - Anatoly Sobchak , Russian politician
- 2001 - Rosemary DeCamp , American actress
- 2003 - Maurice Blanchot, author (b. 1907)
- 2003 - Orville Freeman, American politician (b. 1918)
- 2003 - Willi Hoss , politician
- 2003 - Harry Jacunski, NFL player
- 2003 - Ty Longley, guitarist for the heavy-metal band Great White
- 2003 - Ulrich Roski , singer and cabaret artist
- 2005 - Sandra Dee, American actress(b. 1944)
- 2005 - Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author. (b. 1937)
- 2005 - John Raitt, actor (b. 1917)
Holidays and observances
February 19 - February 21 - January 20 - March 20 -- listing of all days
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