February 20

1673 - The first recorded wine auction took place in London. 

1792 - U.S. President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act thereby creating the U.S. Post Office. 

1809 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the power of the federal government was greater than that of any individual state. 

1815 - The USS Constitution, under Captain Charles Stewart fought the British ships Cyane and Levant. The Constitution captures both, but lost the Levant after encountering a British squadron. The Constitution and the Cyane returned to New York safely on May 15, 1815. The Cyane was purchased and became the USS Cyane

1839 - The U.S. Congress prohibited dueling in the District of Columbia. 

1872 - Luther Crowell received a patent for a machine that manufactured paper bags. 

1872 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in New York City. 

1872 - Silas Noble and J.P. Cooley patented the toothpick manufacturing machine. 

1873 - The University of California got its first Medical School. 

1880 - The American Bell Company was incorporated. 

1901 - The first territorial legislature of Hawaii convened. 

1921 - The motion picture "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" was released starring Rudolph Valentino. 

1931 - The U.S. Congress allowed California to build the Oakland Bay Bridge. 

1933 - The U.S. House of Representatives completed congressional action on the amendment to repeal Prohibition. 

1944 - "Big Week" began as U.S. bombers began raiding German aircraft manufacturing centers during World War II. 

1952 - Emmett L. Ashford became the first black umpire in organized baseball. He was authorized to be a substitute in the Southwestern International League. 

1952 - "The African Queen" opened at the Capitol Theatre in New York City. 

1958 - Racing jockey Eddie Arcaro got win number 4,000, as he rode the winner at Santa Anita race track in Southern California. 

1962 - John Glenn made space history when he orbited the world three times in 4 hours, 55 minutes. He was the first American to orbit the Earth. He was aboard the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule. 

1965 - Ranger 8 crashed on the moon after sending back thousands of pictures of its surface. 

1987 - After 11 years, David Hartman left ABC’s "Good Morning America." 

1987 - A bomb exploded in a computer store in Salt Lake City, UT. The blast was blamed on the Unabomber. 

1993 - Two ten-year-old boys were charged by police in Liverpool, England, in the abduction and death of a toddler. The two boys were later convicted. 

1998 - American Tara Lipinski, at age 15, became the youngest gold medalist in winter Olympics history when she won the ladies' figure skating title at Nagano, Japan. 

2001 - FBI Agent Robert Phillip Hanssen was arrested and charged with spying for the Russians for 15 years. 

2002 - In Reqa Al-Gharbiya, Egypt, a fire raced through a train killing at least 370 people and injuring at least 65. 

2003 - In West Warwick, RI, 99 people were killed when fire destroyed the nightclub The Station. The fire started with sparks from a pyrotechnic display being used by Great White. Ty Longley, guitarist for Great White, was one of the victims in the fire.

February 21

1804 - The first self-propelled locomotive on rails was demonstrated in Wales. 

1842 - John J. Greenough patented the sewing machine. 

1848 - The Communist Manifesto was published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. 

1858 - The first electric burglar alarm was installed in Boston, MA. 

1866 - Lucy B. Hobbs became the first woman to graduate from a dental school. The school was the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in Cincinnati. 

1874 - The Oakland Daily Tribune began publication. 

1878 - The first telephone directories issued in the U.S. were distributed to residents in New Haven, CT. It was a single page of only fifty names. 

1904 - The National Ski Association was formed in Ishpeming, MI. 

1916 - During World War I, the Battle of Verdun began in France. The battle ended on December 18, 1916 with a French victory over Germany. 

1925 - The first issue of "The New Yorker" was published. 

1932 - William N. Goodwin patented the camera exposure meter. 

1943 - "Free World Theatre" debuted on the Blue network (now ABC radio). 

1945 - "The Lion and the Mouse" was first broadcast on "Brownstone Theatre." 

1947 - Edwin Land demonstrated the Polaroid Land Camera to the Optical Society of America in New York City. It was the first camera to take, develop and print a picture on photo paper all in about 60 seconds. The photos were black and white. The camera went on sale the following year. 

1950 - The first International Pancake Race was held in Liberal, Kansas. 

1965 - Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City at the age of 39 by assassins identified as Black Muslims. 

1968 - An agreement between baseball players and club owners increased the minimum salary for major league players to $10,000 a year. 

1973 - Israeli fighter planes shot down a Libyan Airlines jet over the Sinai Desert. More than 100 people were killed. 

1975 - Former U.S. Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2 1/2 to 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up. 

1988 - In Baton Rouge, LA, TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart confessed to his congregation that he was guilty of an unspecified sin. He announced that he was leaving the pulpit temporarily. Swaggart had been linked to an admitted prostitute. 

1989 - U.S. President George H.W. Bush called Ayatollah Khomeini's death warrant against "Satanic Verses" author Salman Rushdie "deeply offensive to the norms of civilized behavior." 

1995 - Chicago stockbroker Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon. He landed in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada. 

1999 - India's Prime Minister Atal Bihair Vajpayee concluded two days of meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Mohammad Nowaz Sharif. 

2000 - David Letterman returned to his Late Night show about five weeks after having an emergency quintuple heart bypass operation.

2003 - David Hasselhoff and his wife Pamela were injured in a motorcycle accident. The accident was caused by a strong gust of wind. Hasselhoff fractured his lower back and broke several ribs. His wife fractured her left ankle and right wrist. 

February 22

1630 - Quadequine introduced popcorn to English colonists at their first Thanksgiving dinner. 

1784 - "Empress of China", a U.S. merchant ship, left New York City for the Far East. 

1819 - Spain ceded Florida to the United States. 

1855 - The U.S. Congress voted to appropriate $200,000 for continuance of the work on the Washington Monument. The next morning the resolution was tabled and it would be 21 years before the Congress would vote on funds again. Work was continued by the Know-Nothing Party in charge of the project. 

1859 - U.S. President Buchanan approved the Act of February 22, 1859, which incorporated the Washington National Monument Society "for the purpose of completing the erection now in progress of a great National Monument to the memory of Washington at the seat of the Federal Government." 

1860 - Organized baseball’s first game was played in San Francisco, CA. 

1865 - In the U.S., Tennessee adopted a new constitution that abolished slavery. 

1879 - In Utica, NY, Frank W. Woolworth opened his first 5 and 10-cent store. 

1885 - The Washington Monument was officially dedicated in Washington, DC. It opened to the public in 1889. 

1892 - "Lady Windermere's Fan", by Oscar Wilde, was first performed. 

1920 - The first dog race track to use an imitation rabbit opened in Emeryville, CA. 

1923 - The first successful chinchilla farm opened in Los Angeles, CA. It was the first farm of its kind in the U.S. 

1924 - U.S. President Calvin Coolidge delivered the first presidential radio broadcast from the White House. 

1954 - ABC radio’s popular "Breakfast Club" program was simulcast on TV for the first time. 

1969 - Barbara Jo Rubin became the first woman to win a U.S. thoroughbred horse race. 

1973 - The U.S. and Communist China agreed to establish liaison offices. 

1984 - The U.S. Census Bureau statistics showed that the state of Alaska was the fastest growing state of the decade with an increase in population of 19.2 percent. 

1994 - The U.S. Justice Department charged Aldrich Ames and his wife with selling national secrets to the Soviet Union. Ames was later convicted to life in prison. Ames' wife received a 5-year prison term. 

1997 - Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut and colleagues announced that an adult sheep had been successfully cloned. Dolly was actually born on July 5, 1996. Dolly was the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell. 

2002 - In the Philippines, An MH-47E Chinook helicopter crashed into the ocean. All 10 men aboard were killed.

February 23

1574 - France began the 5th holy war against the Huguenots. 

1660 - Charles XI became the king of Sweden. 

1792 - The Humane Society of Massachusetts was incorporated. 

1813 - The first U.S. raw cotton-to-cloth mill was founded in Waltham, MA. 

1820 - The Cato Street conspiracy was uncovered. 

1821 - The Philadelphia College of Apothecaries established the first pharmacy college. 

1822 - Boston was incorporated as a city. 

1836 - In San Antonio, TX, the siege of the Alamo began. 

1839 - In Boston, MA, William F. Harnden organized the first express service between Boston and New York City. It was the first express service in the U.S. 

1847 - Santa Anna was defeated at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico by U.S. troops under Gen. Zachary. 

1861 - U.S. President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington to take his office after an assassination attempt in Baltimore. 

1861 - Texas became the 7th state to secede from the Union. 

1870 - The state of Mississippi was readmitted to the Union. 

1874 - Walter Winfield patented a game called "sphairistike." More widely known as lawn tennis. 

1875 - J. Palisa discovered asteroid #143 (aka Adria). 

1883 - Alabama became the first U.S. state to enact an antitrust law. 

1886 - Charles M. Hall completed his invention of aluminum. 

1887 - The French/Italian Riviera was hit by an earthquake that killed about 2,000. 

1896 - The Tootsie Roll was introduced by Leo Hirshfield. 

1898 - In France, Emile Zola was imprisoned for his letter, "J'accuse," which accused the government of anti-Semitism and wrongly jailing Alfred Dreyfus. 

1900 - The Battle of Hart's Hill took place in South Africa between the Boers and the British army. 

1904 - The U.S. acquired control of the Panama Canal Zone for $10 million. 

1905 - The Rotary Club was founded in Chicago, IL, by Attorney Paul Harris and three others. 

1910 - In Philadelphia, PA, the first radio contest was held. 

1915 - Nevada began enforcing convenient divorce law. 

1916 - The U.S. Congress authorizes the McKinley Memorial $1 gold coin. 

1919 - The Fascist Party was formed in Italy by Benito Mussolini. 

1927 - The Federal Radio Commission began assigning frequencies, hours of operation and power allocations for radio broadcasters. On July 1, 1934 the name was changed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

1932 - Robert Short became the first American to die in an arial battle with the Japanese. (more info) 

1940 - Russian troops conquered Lasi Island. 

1940 - Walt Disney's animated movie "Pinocchio" was released. 

1945 - The 28th Regiment of the Fifth Marine Division of the U.S. Marines reached the top of Mount Surabachi. A photograph of these Marines raising the American flag was taken. 

1954 - The first mass vaccination of children against polio began in Pittsburgh, PA. 

1955 - The French government was formed by Edgar Faure. 

1957 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the NFL operations did fall within coverage of antitrust laws. 

1958 - Juan Fangio, 5-time world diving champion, was kidnapped by Cuban rebels. 

1963 - The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It prohibited poll taxes in federal elections. 

1966 - The Bitar government in Syria was ended with a military coup. 

1967 - Jim Ryun set a record in the half-mile run when ran it in 1:48.3. 

1968 - Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia 76ers) became the first player to score 25,000 career points in the NBA. 

1970 - Guyana became a republic. 

1974 - The Symbionese Liberation Army demanded $4 million more for the release of Patty Hearst. Hearst had been kidnapped on February 4th. 

1980 - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared that Iran's new parliament would have to decide the fate of the hostages taken on November 4, 1979, at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. 

1985 - The TV show "Gimme a Break" was broadcast live before a studio audience. It was the first TV sitcom to be seen live since the 1950s. 

1991 - During the Persian Gulf War, ground forces crossed the border of Saudi Arabia into the country of Iraq. Less than four days later the war was over due to the surrender or withdraw of Iraqi forces. 

1993 - Gary Coleman won a $1,280,000 lawsuit against his parents. 

1995 - The Dow Jones Industrial closed about 4,000 for the first time at 4,003.33. 

1997 - NBC-TV aired "Schindler's List." It was completely uncensored. 

1997 - Ali Hassan Abu Kamal, a Palestinian teacher, opened fire on the 86th-floor observation deck of New York City's Empire State Building. He killed one person and wounded six more before killing himself. 

1998 - In central Florida, tornadoes killed 42 people and damaged and/or destroyed about 2,600 homes and businesses. 

1999 - In Ankara, Turkey, Abdullah Ocalan was charged with treason. The prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for the Kurdish rebel leader. 

1999 - White supremacist John William King was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering James Byrd Jr. Byrd was dragged behind a truck for two miles on a country road in Texas. 

2000 - Robby Knievel made a successful motorcycle jump of 200 feet over an oncoming train. 

2005 - The New York, NY, city medical examiner's office annouced that it had exhausted all efforts to identify the remains of the people killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, due to the limits of DNA technology. About 1,600 people had been identified leaving more than 1,100 unidentified.

February 24

1803 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled itself to be the final interpreter of all constitutional issues. 

1835 - "Siwinowe Kesibwi" (The Shawnee Sun) was issued as the first Indian language monthly publication in the U.S. 

1839 - Mr. William S. Otis received a patent for the steam shovel. 

1857 - The Los Angeles Vinyard Society was organized. 

1857 - The first shipment of perforated postage stamps was received by the U.S. Government. 

1863 - Arizona was organized as a territory. 

1866 - In Washington, DC, an American flag made entirely of American bunting was displayed for the first time. 

1868 - The first parade to use floats occurred in New Orleans at Mardi Gras. 

1868 - The U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson due to his attempt to dismiss Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. The U.S. Senate later acquitted Johnson. 

1886 - Thomas Edison and Mina Miller were married. 

1900 - New York City Mayor Van Wyck signed the contract to begin work on New York's first rapid transit tunnel. The tunnel would link Manhattan and Brooklyn. The ground breaking ceremony was on March 24, 1900. 

1903 - In Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an area was leased to the U.S. for a naval base. 

1925 - A thermit was used for the first time. It was used to break up a 250,000-ton ice jam that had clogged the St. Lawrence River near Waddington, NY. 

1938 - The first nylon bristle toothbrush was made. It was the first time that nylon yarn had been used commercially. 

1942 - The U.S. Government stopped shipments of all 12-gauge shotguns for sporting use for the wartime effort. 

1942 - The Voice of America (VOA) aired for the first time. 

1945 - During World War II, the Philippine capital of Manilla, was liberated by U.S. soldiers. 

1946 - Juan Peron was elected president of Argentina. 

1956 - The city of Cleveland invoked a 1931 law that barred people under the age of 18 from dancing in public without an adult guardian. 

1980 - NBC premiered the TV movie "Harper Valley P.T.A." 

1981 - Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Britain's Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. 

1983 - The Dow Jones industrial average closed above the 1100 mark for the first time. 

1983 - A U.S.congressional commission released a report that condemned the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. 

1987 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of the Los Angeles Lakers, got his first three-point shot in the NBA. 

1987 - An exploding supernova was discovered in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. 

1988 - The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a $200,000 award to Rev. Jerry Falwell that had been won against "Hustler" magazine. The ruling expanded legal protections for parody and satire. 

1989 - Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sentenced Salman Rushdie to death for his novel "The Satanic Verses". A bounty of one to three-million-dollars was also put on Rushidie's head. 

1989 - A United Airlines 747 jet rips open in flight killing 9 people. The flight was from Honolulu to New Zealand. 

1992 - "Wayne's World" opened in U.S. theaters. 

1992 - Tracy Gold began working on the set of "Growing Pains" again. She had left the show due to anorexia. 

1994 - In Los Angeles, Garrett Morris was shot during a robbery attempt. He eventually recovered from his injury. 

1997 - The U.S. The Food and Drug Administration named six brands of birth control as safe and effective "morning-after" pills for preventing pregnancy. 

1997 - Dick Enberg received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

1999 - In southeast China, a domestic airliner crashed killing all 64 passengers. 

2007 - The Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution expressing "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery. 

2008 - Cuba's parliament named Raul Castro president. His brother Fidel had ruled for nearly 50 years.