February 23 is the 54th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 311 days remaining, 312 in leap years.
- 1455 - Traditional date for the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type.
- 1574 - The 5th holy war against the Huguenots begins in France.
- 1660 - Charles XI becomes king of Sweden.
- 1732 - First performance of George Frideric Handel's Orlando , in London.
- 1778 - American Revolution: Baron von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to help to train the Continental Army.
- 1820 - Cato Street Conspiracy: A plot to murder all the British cabinet ministers is exposed.
- 1821 - The Philadelphia College of Apothecaries founds the first pharmacy college.
- 1836 - The Siege of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas.
- 1847 - Mexican-American War: Battle of Buena Vista - In Mexico, American troops defeat Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna.
- 1861 - President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, DC after an assassination attempt in Baltimore, Maryland.
- 1870 - Military control of Mississippi ends and it is readmitted to the Union.
- 1874 - Walter Winfield patents a game called "sphairistike" which is more commonly called lawn tennis.
- 1883 - Alabama becomes the first U.S. state to enact an antitrust law.
- 1887 - The French Riviera is hit by a large earthquake, killing around 2,000.
- 1893 - Rudolf Diesel receives a patent for the diesel engine.
- 1898 - Émile Zola is imprisoned in France after writing "J'accuse ", a letter accusing the French government of anti-Semitism and wrongfully placing Captain Alfred Dreyfus in jail.
- 1900 - Battle of Hart's Hill : In South Africa the Boers and British troops battle.
- 1903 - Cuba leases Guantanamo Bay to the United States "in perpetuity".
- 1904 - For $10 million the United States gains control of the Panama Canal Zone.
- 1905 - Chicago attorney Paul Harris and three other businessmen meet for lunch to form the Rotary Club, the world's first service club.
- 1909 - The Silver Dart makes the first powered flight in Canada and the British Empire.
- 1919 - Benito Mussolini forms the Fascist Party in Italy.
- 1927 - The Federal Radio Commission (later renamed the Federal Communications Commission) begins to regulate the use of radio frequencies.
- 1934 - Leopold III becomes King of Belgium.
- 1940 - World War II: Soviet Union troops conquer Lasi Island .
- 1940 - The animated movie Pinocchio is released.
- 1945 - Early in the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines reach the top of Mount Surabachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag. The photo would later win a Pulitzer Prize.
- 1945 - World War II: The capital of the Philippines, Manila, is liberated by American forces.
- 1945 - World War II: Capitulation of German garrison in Poznan, city is liberated by Soviet and Polish forces.
- 1945 - World War II: The German town of Pforzheim is completely destroyed by a raid of 379 British bombers.
- 1947 - International Organization for Standardization(ISO) is founded.
- 1954 - The first mass vaccination of children against polio begins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- 1955 - First meeting of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
- 1955 - Edgar Faure becomes Prime Minister of France
- 1956 - Nikita Khrushchev attacks the veneration of Joseph Stalin as a "cult of personality".
- 1958 - Cuban rebels kidnap 5-time world driving champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
- 1963 - Alaura O'Dell, aka Paula P-Orridge born in Westminster, London
- 1966 - A military coup in Syria replaces the previous government.
- 1974 - The Symbionese Liberation Army demands $4 million more to release kidnap victim Patty Hearst.
- 1980 - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini states that Iran's parliament would decide the fate of the American embassy hostages.
- 1981 - Antonio Tejero attempts a coup d'état by capturing the Spanish Congress of Deputies.
- 1982 - The Spanish Socialist government of Felipe González and Miguel Boyer nationalizes Rumasa , a holding of José María Ruiz Mateos.
- 1983 - The Environmental Protection Agency announces its intent to buy out and evacuate the dioxin-contaminated community of Times Beach, Missouri.
- 1987 - A supernova is seen in the Large Magellanic Cloud (see Supernova 1987a).
- 1991 - Gulf War: Ground troops cross the Saudi Arabia border and enter Iraq, thus starting the ground-phase of the war.
- 1991 - Thailand: General Sunthorn Kongsompong leads a bloodless coup d'état, deposing Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan .
- 1993 - Gary Coleman wins a $1,280,000 lawsuit against his parents.
- 1998 - Tornadoes in central Florida destroy or damage 2,600 structures and kill 42.
- 1998 - Osama bin Laden publishes fatwa declaring jihad against all Jews and Crusaders.
- 1998 - Netscape Communications Corporation announces the foundation of mozilla.org, to co-ordinate the development of the open source Mozilla web browser.
- 1999 - Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan is charged with treason in Ankara, Turkey.
- 1999 - White supremacist John William King is found guilty of kidnapping and killing African American James Byrd Jr by dragging him behind a truck for two miles.
- 1999 - An avalanche destroys the Austrian village of Galtür, killing 31.
- 2005 - Slovakia Summit 2005 begins, marking the first occasion when a sitting American President visits Slovakia; Bush and Putin are in attendance.
- 1418 - Pope Paul II (d. 1471)
- 1633 - Samuel Pepys, diarist (d. 1703)
- 1685 - Georg Friederich Händel, composer (d. 1759)
- 1743 - Mayer Amschel Rothschild, banker (d. 1812)
- 1840 - Carl Menger, economist (d. 1921)
- 1868 - W.E.B. DuBois, civil rights leader (d. 1963)
- 1878 - Kazimir Malevich, painter, art theoritician
- 1882 (allegedly) - B. Traven, writer (d. 1969)
- 1883 - Victor Fleming, director (d. 1949)
- 1883 - Karl Jaspers, philosopher (d. 1969)
- 1899 - Erich Kästner, lyricist and narrator (d. 1974)
- 1899 - Elisabeth Langgässer , lyricist, narrator and novelist (d. 1950)
- 1904 - Leopold Trepper, Soviet spy in WWII (d. 1982)
- 1904 - William L. Shirer, American historian (d. 1993)
- 1908 - William McMahon, twentieth Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1988)
- 1915 - Paul Tibbets, pilot of the "Enola Gay", the plane which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan
- 1915 - Jon Hall, American actor (d. 1979)
- 1918 - Richard G. Butler, American fascist (d. 2004)
- 1928 - Vasili Lazarev, cosmonaut (d. 1990)
- 1932 - Majel Barrett, actress
- 1937 - Claude Brown . American author (d. 2002)
- 1937 - Tom Osborne, American college football coach, politician
- 1938 - Sylvia Chase , American journalist
- 1939 - Peter Fonda, actor
- 1943 - Fred Biletnikoff, American football star, coach
- 1944 - Johnny Winter, musician
- 1945 - Allan Boesak, South African activist
- 1951 - Patricia Richardson, actress
- 1951 - Ed "Too Tall" Jones , American football star
- 1952 - Brad Whitford, American musician (Aerosmith)
- 1954 - Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine, President
- 1955 - Howard Jones, musician
- 1958 - David Sylvian, musician
- 1994 - Dakota Fanning, actress
- 1447 - Pope Eugenius IV (b. 1383)
- 1730 - Pope Benedict XIII (b. 1649)
- 1766 - Stanislaw Leszczynski, King of Poland (b. 1677)
- 1821 - John Keats, English Romantic poet (b. 1795)
- 1848 - John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States (b. 1767)
- 1855 - Carl Friedrich Gauss, mathematician, astronomer, physicist (b. 1777)
- 1923 - Théophile Delcassé, French statesman (b. 1852)
- 1930 - Horst Wessel, Nazi ideologue, composer
- 1934 - Edward Elgar, composer (b. 1857)
- 1965 - Stan Laurel, actor, comedian (b. 1890)
- 1974 - Harry Ruby, composer, writer
- 1979 - W.A.C. Bennett, British Columbia politician (b. 1900)
- 1990 - José Napoleón Duarte, President of El Salvador
- 1995 - James Herriot, writer (b. 1916)
- 1995 - Melvin Franklin, American singer (The Temptations)
- 1997 - Tony Williams, jazz drummer
- 1999 - Carlos Hathcock , GySgt , USMC , Sniper (b. 1942)
- 2000 - Ofra Haza, Israeli singer (b. 1957)
- 2003 - Robert K. Merton, sociologist (b. 1910)
- 2003 - Marcel Prawy , jurist
- 2004 - Vijay Anand, Bollywood film director and brother of Dev Anand
- 2004 - Carl Anderson, American actor (Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar)
- 2004 - Sikander Bakht, Governor of Kerala (b. 1918)
- 2004 - William Coates, asserted to be "oldest living American"
- 2004 - Don Cornell, popular singer of the 1940s and 1950s (b. 1919)
- 2004 - Carl Liscombe, Detroit Red Wings hockey player in the 1940s (b. 1915)
Holidays and observances
February 22 - February 24 - January 23 - March 23 -- listing of all days
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