This Day in History - February 17

February 17

624 – Chinese Empress Wu Zetian is born

1370 – Germany defeats Lithuania in the Battle at Rudau

1454 – Philip the Good of Burgundy takes the “vow of the pheasant” in which he swears to fight the Turks

1461 – The Lancastrian army defeats Yorkists and recapture King Henry VI in the Second Battle of St. Albans during the Wars of the Roses

1500 – German peasants repels army of Schleswig and Holstein in the Battle of Hemmingstedt

1510 – Portuguese Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque conquers the city of Goa

1568 – Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II agrees to pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire for peace

1598 – Boris Godunov is elected czar in succession to his brother-in-law Fyodor

1600 – Giordano Bruno, the Italian philosopher, alchemist and advocate of the Copernican theory, is burned at the stake for heresy by the Inquisition

1621 – Myles Standish is elected the first commander of the Plymouth Colony

1673 – French actor and playwright Moliere dies

1720 – Spain signs the Treaty of the Hague with the Quadruple Alliance ending a war started in 1718

1774 – US painter Raphaelle Peale is born

1776 – Historian Edward Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of Roman Empire” is published for the first time

1782 – The American-allied French navy battles with the British navy in the Indian Ocean during the American War for Independence

1801 – The House of Representatives chooses Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr in the presidential election, breaking the tie of the electoral college

1817 – Baltimore becomes the first US city lit by gas

1820 – The Senate passes the Missouri Compromise, an attempt of dealing with the extension of slavery into the western territories 

1856 – German poet Heinrich Heine dies

1864 – The Confederate submarine Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina

1864 – Australian poet and journalist Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson is born

1865 – The South Carolina capital city, Columbia, is destroyed by fire as Major General William Tecumseh Sherman marches through

1874 – US industrialist Thomas Watson Sr. is born

1876 – Julius Wolff first cans sardines in Eastport, Maine

1880 – Tsar Alexander II of Russia survives an assassination attempt

1897 – National Organization of Mothers aka Parent Teacher Association is formed

1902 – American singer Marian Anderson is born

1904 – Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly” premieres at La Scala Theatre in Italy

1904 – German philosopher Hans Morgenthau is born

1906 – What was described as the “Trial of the Century,” begins formation when union leaders Bill Hayward, Charles Moyer and George Pettibone are taken into custody by Idaho authorities and the Pinkerton Detective Agency and transported secretly to Idaho from Colorado.  They were suspects in the bombing assassination of former governor Frank Steunenberg who had played a role in breaking up a strike of union minors in Coeur d’Alene years before.  James McParland, the most famous private detective who brought down the Molly McGuires, intimidated and tricked Tom Hogan into implicating the men in the murder.  Clarence Darrow defended the union and the jury ultimately acquitted.  Hayward, who was most likely guilty, fled the country to Russia where he remained until his death

1908 – Baseball announcer Walter Lanier “Red” Barber is born

1909 – Apache Chief Geronimo dies in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma

1913 – The “Armory Show” opens in New York featuring paintings from Picasso, Matisse and Duchamp to the US

1915 – The German zeppelin L-4 crash-lands in the North Sea near Varde.  Eleven members of the crew were rescued by the Danish coast guard and it is believed that four men drowned as their bodies were never recovered

1919 – Germany signs an armistice giving up territory in Poland

1925 – The first issue of The New Yorker is sold for the first time

1926 – An avalanche in Sap Gulch, Bingham, Utah kills 40

1929 – Novelist Chaim Potok is born

1932 – Irving Berlin’s musical “Face the Music” premiers in New York City

1933 – The League of Nations censures Japan in a worldwide broadcast

1933 – The first issue of “Newsweek” is published

1935 – 31 prisoners escape an Oklahoma prison after killing a guard

1936 – The Phantom, the world’s first superhero, appears for the first time in a comic strip by Lee Falk

1938 – The first color television is demonstrated in London

1944 – US forces land on Eniwetok atoll in the South Pacific

1945 – General MacArthur’s troops land on Corregidor in the Philippines

1947 – The Voice of America (VOA) begins its first radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union-an important propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union used to explain America’s policies during World War II to bolster the morale of its allies

1949 – English guitarist and composer Fred Frith is born

1951 – Packard introduces the “250” Chassis Convertible

1954 – The first Church of Scientology is established in Los Angeles, California

1955 – Britain announces its ability to make hydrogen bombs

1957 – Andre Gromyko becomes the Soviet Foreign Minister

1959 – The US launches its first weather station in space, Vanguard II

1960 – Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested in the Alabama bus boycott

1963 – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visits the Berlin Wall

1963 – Basketball pro, Michael Jordan is born

1966 – Take one of Brian Wilson’s “Good Vibrations” is recorded, which will go on to become his last and the Beach Boys’ third #1 hit

1966 – General Maxwell Taylor testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Operation Rolling Thunder, the American air campaign against Vietnam

1968 – American officials in Saigon report an all-time high casualty weekly rate of 543 killed in action and 2,547 injured in the previous seven day period

1969 – Russia and Peru sign their first trade accord

1969 – Golda Meir is sworn in as the first female Prime Minister of Israel

1972 – The Volkswagen Beetle overtakes the Model T Ford as the world’s best-selling car

1972 – British Parliament votes to join the European Common Market

1973 – President Richard Nixon names Patrick Gray as Director of the FBI

1975 – Art from the Municipal Museum in Milan is stolen, including a Cezanne, Gauguin, Renoir and van Gogh, valued at $5 million

1979 – China invades Vietnam in retaliation for the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia

1981 – American model, actress, and singer, Paris Hilton is born

1982 – American director, actor, and drama coach, Lee Strasberg dies

1982 – American composer and pianist Thelonious Monk dies

1986 – Indian and American philosopher and author Jiddu Krishnamurti dies

1993 – Approximately 900 people are killed when a passenger ferry, the Neptune, overturns from being overloaded near Port-au-Prince, Haiti

1996 – World chess champion Garry Kasparov beats Deep Blue, the IBM computer, in a 4-2 match

1998 – German author Ernst Junger dies

2000 – Dave Egger’s “A Heartbreaking World of Staggering Genius” is published

2008 – Kosovo declares independence from Serbia

2016 – CEO of Apple Tim Cook confirms Apple will contest an FBI order to unlock the phone of San Bernardino Syed Rizwan Farook


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.

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