On This Day in History February 28

February 28 – Events:

  • 202 BC – coronation ceremony of Liu Bang as Emperor Gaozu of Han takes place, initiating four centuries of the Han Dynasty’s rule over China.
  • 364 – Valentinian I becomes Roman Emperor.
  • 870 – The Fourth Council of Constantinople closes.
  • 1066 – Westminster Abbey opens.
  • 1638 – Scottish Presbyterians sign National Convenant, Greyfriars, Edinburgh.
  • 1700 – Today is followed by March 1 in Sweden, thus creating the Swedish calendar.
  • 1704 – Elias Neau, a Frenchman, opens a school for blacks in NYC.
  • 1704 – Indians attack Deerfield, Massachusetts, kill 40, kidnap 100.
  • 1708Slave revolt, Newton, Long Island NY, 11 die.
  • 1710 – In the Battle of Helsingborg, 14,000 Danish invaders under Jørgen Rantzau are decisively defeated by an equally sized Swedish force under Magnus Stenbock.
  • 1784 – John Wesley charters the Methodist Church.
  • 1787 – The charter establishing the institution now known as the University of Pittsburgh is granted.
  • 1827 – The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad is incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight.
  • 1838 – Robert Nelson, leader of the Patriotes, proclaims the independence of Lower Canada (today Québec).
  • 1844 – A gun on USS Princeton explodes while the boat is on a Potomac River cruise, killing two United States Cabinet members and several others.
  • 1849 – Regular steamboat service from the west to the east coast of the United States begins with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, 4 months 21 days after leaving New York Harbor.
  • 1850 – The University of Utah opens in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • 1854 – The Republican Party of the United States is organized in Ripon, Wisconsin.
  • 1861 – Colorado is organized as a United States territory.
  • 1870 – The Bulgarian Exarchate is established by decree of Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz of the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1883 – The first vaudeville theater opens in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1885 – The American Telephone and Telegraph Company is incorporated in New York State as the subsidiary of American Bell Telephone.
  • 1897 – Queen Ranavalona III, the last monarch of Madagascar, is deposed by a French military force.
  • 1900 – The Second Boer War: The 118-day “Siege of Ladysmith” is lifted.
  • 1922 – The United Kingdom accepts the independence of Egypt.
  • 1933 – Gleichschaltung: The Reichstag Fire Decree is passed in Germany a day after the Reichstag fire.
  • 1935 – Nylon is invented by Wallace Carothers.
  • 1939 – The first issue of Serbian weekly magazine Politikin zabavnik is published.
  • 1939 – The erroneous word “Dord” is discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, prompting an investigation.
  • 1940 – Basketball is televised for the first time (Fordham University vs. the University of Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden).
  • 1942 – The heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) is sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait with 693 crew members killed.
  • 1943 – “Porgy & Bess” opens on Broadway with Anne Brown & Todd Duncan.
  • 1947 – 228 Incident: In Taiwan, civil disorder is put down with the loss of 30,000 civilian lives.
  • 1953 – James D. Watson and Francis Crick announce to friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA; the formal announcement takes place on April 25 following publication in April Nature (published April 2).
  • 1958 – A school bus in Floyd County, Kentucky hits a wrecker truck and plunges down an embankment into the rain-swollen Levisa Fork River. The driver and 26 children die in what remains the worst school bus accident in U.S. history.
  • 1971 – Jack Nicklaus completes his second golf grand slam.
  • 1972 – Sino-American relations: The United States and People’s Republic of China sign the Shanghai Communiqué.
  • 1974 – After seven years, the United States and Egypt re-establish diplomatic relations.
  • 1975 – A major tube train crash at Moorgate station, London kills 43 people.
  • 1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H is broadcast in the USA, becoming the most watched television episode in history, with 106–125 million viewers in the U.S. (estimate varies by source).
  • 1985 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army carries out a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station at Newry, killing nine officers in the highest loss of life for the RUC on a single day.
  • 1986 – Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden, is assassinated in Stockholm.
  • 1991 – The first Gulf War ends.
  • 1993 – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raid the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group’s leader David Koresh. Four BATF agents and five Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.
  • 1997 – The North Hollywood shootout takes place.
  • 1998 – First flight of RQ-4 Global Hawk, the first unmanned aerial vehicle certified to file its own flight plans and fly regularly in U.S. civilian airspace.
  • 1998 – Kosovo War: Serbian police begin the offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo.
  • 2001 – The Nisqually Earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale hits the Nisqually Valley and the Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia area of the U.S. state of Washington.
  • 2001 – Six passengers and four railway staff are killed and a further 82 people suffer serious injuries in the Selby rail crash.
  • 2004 – Over 1 million Taiwanese participating in the 228 Hand-in-Hand Rally form a 500- kilometre (300-mile) long human chain to commemorate the 228 Incident in 1947.
  • 2005 – Lebanon’s pro-Syrian prime minister, Omar Karami, resigns amid large anti-Syria street demonstrations in Beirut.
  • 2007 – Jupiter flyby of the New Horizons Pluto-observer spacecraft.

February 28 – Birthdays:

  • 1155 – Henry the Young King, son of Henry II of England (d. 1183)
  • 1261 – Margaret of Scotland, queen of Norway (d. 1283)
  • 1409 – Elisabeth II of Bohemia (d. 1442)
  • 1533 – Michel de Montaigne, French writer (d. 1592)
  • 1552 – Joost Bürgi, Swiss clockmaker (d. 1632)
  • 1612 – John Pearson, English theologian (d. 1686)
  • 1670 – Benjamin Wadsworth, American President of Harvard University (d. 1737)
  • 1675 – Guillaume Delisle, French cartographer (d. 1726)
  • 1683 – René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, French scientist (d. 1757)
  • 1704 – Louis Godin, French astronomer (d. 1760)
  • 1712 – Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, French military commander (d. 1759)
  • 1724 – George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend, British field marshal (d. 1807)
  • 1812 – Berthold Auerbach, German poet and author (d. 1882)
  • 1820 – John Tenniel, English illustrator (d. 1914)
  • 1823 – Ernest Renan, French philosopher (d. 1892)
  • 1824 – Blondin, French tightrope walker (d. 1897)
  • 1833 – Alfred von Schlieffen, German field marshal (d. 1913)
  • 1838 – Maurice Lévy, French engineer (d. 1910)
  • 1840 – Henri Duveyrier, French explorer (d. 1892)
  • 1841 – Adrien Albert Marie de Mun, French politician (d. 1914)
  • 1851 – Samuel W. McCall, 47 Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1923)
  • 1865 – Wilfred Grenfell, medical missionary (d. 1940)
  • 1878 – Pierre Fatou, French mathematician (d. 1929)
  • 1878 – Artur Kapp, Estonian composer (d. 1952)
  • 1882 – Geraldine Farrar, American soprano (d. 1967)
  • 1882 – José Vasconcelos, Mexican writer (d. 1959)
  • 1882 – Pádraic Ó Conaire, Irish writer (d. 1928)
  • 1894 – Ben Hecht, American playwright (d. 1964)
  • 1895 – Marcel Pagnol, French novelist, playwright and film director (d. 1974)
  • 1896 – Philip Showalter Hench, American physician, Nobel laureate (d. 1965)
  • 1900 – Wolfram Hirth, German pilot (d. 1959)
  • 1901 – Linus Pauling, American chemist and activist, Nobel laureate (d. 1994)
  • 1903 – Vincente Minnelli, American film director (d. 1986)
  • 1906 – Bugsy Siegel, American gangster (d. 1947)
  • 1907 – Milton Caniff, American cartoonist (Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon) (d. 1988)
  • 1908 – Billie Bird, American actress (d. 2002)
  • 1908 – Alexander Golitzen, American art director (d. 2005)
  • 1909 – Stephen Spender, English poet (d. 1995)
  • 1912 – Clara Petacci, Italian mistress of Benito Mussolini (d. 1945)
  • 1915 – Ketti Frings, American Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter, (d. 1981)
  • 1915 – Peter Medawar, Brazilian-born scientist, Nobel laureate (d. 1987)
  • 1915 – Zero Mostel, American actor (d. 1977)
  • 1921 – Pierre Clostermann, French World War II pilot (d. 2006)
  • 1923 – Charles Durning, American actor
  • 1926 – Svetlana Alliluyeva, Soviet defector, daughter of Joseph Stalin
  • 1925 – Harry H Corbett, English actor (d. 1982)
  • 1929 – Hayden Fry, American football coach
  • 1929 – Frank Gehry, Canadian-American architect
  • 1929 – John Montague, Irish poet
  • 1929 – Joseph Rouleau, French Canadian bass opera singer
  • 1930 – Leon Neil Cooper, American physicist, Nobel laureate
  • 1930 – Gavin MacLeod, American actor
  • 1931 – Dean Smith, American basketball coach
  • 1932 – Don Francks, Canadian actor
  • 1933 – Rein Taagepera, Estonian politician
  • 1939 – Daniel C. Tsui, Chinese-born physicist, Nobel laureate
  • 1939 – Tommy Tune, American dancer
  • 1940 – Mario Andretti, Italian-American race car driver and one-time F1 world champion
  • 1940 – Joe South, American singer
  • 1942 – Frank Bonner, American actor
  • 1942 – Brian Jones, English musician (The Rolling Stones) (d. 1969)
  • 1942 – Dino Zoff, Italian footballer
  • 1943 – Barbara Acklin, American soul singer (d. 1998)
  • 1943 – Charles Bernstein, American composer
  • 1944 – Win Aung, Burmese politician
  • 1944 – Kelly Bishop, American actress
  • 1944 – Sepp Maier, German footballer
  • 1945 – Bubba Smith, American football player and actor
  • 1946 – Robin Cook, British politician (d. 2005)
  • 1947 – Stephanie Beacham, English actress
  • 1948 – Steven Chu, American physicist, Nobel laureate
  • 1948 – Mike Figgis, English director
  • 1948 – Bernadette Peters, American actress and singer
  • 1948 – Mercedes Ruehl, American actress
  • 1951 – Bill Cratty, American modern dancer and choreographer (d. 1998)
  • 1952 – William Finn, American composer
  • 1953 – Ingo Hoffmann, Brazilian racing driver
  • 1953 – Paul Krugman, American economist
  • 1954 – Brian Billick, American football coach
  • 1955 – Gilbert Gottfried, American comedian
  • 1956 – Adrian Dantley, American basketball player
  • 1956 – Jimmy Nicholl, Canadian-born Northern Irish footballer
  • 1956 – Mike Tenay, American wrestling commentator
  • 1957 – Paul Delph, American musician and producer (d. 1996)
  • 1957 – Ainsley Harriott, British celebrity chef
  • 1957 – John Turturro, American actor
  • 1957 – Cindy Wilson, American singer (The B-52’s)
  • 1958 – Jeanne Mas, French singer and actress
  • 1960 – Dorothy Stratten, Canadian actress (d. 1980)
  • 1961 – Rae Dawn Chong, Canadian actress
  • 1961 – Mark Latham, Australian politician
  • 1961 – René Simard, French Canadian singer and TV host
  • 1961 – Eric Bachelart, Belgian racing driver
  • 1963 – Claudio Chiappucci, Italian cyclist
  • 1964 – Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, Uzbekistan cyclist
  • 1966 – Paulo Futre, Portuguese footballer
  • 1967 – Colin Cooper, English footballer
  • 1968 – Stéphan Lebeau, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1969 – Butch Leitzinger, American race car driver
  • 1969 – Robert Sean Leonard, American actor
  • 1969 – Tor Øivind Ødegaard, Norwegian track runner
  • 1969 – Patrick Monahan, American singer (Train)
  • 1970 – Daniel Handler, American writer, better known as Lemony Snicket
  • 1970 – Noureddine Morceli, Algerian athlete
  • 1971 – Tristan Louis, American writer
  • 1971 – Junya Nakano, Japanese composer
  • 1971 – Peter Stebbings, Canadian actor
  • 1972 – Rory Cochrane, American actor
  • 1973 – Eric Lindros, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1973 – Nicolas Minassian, French racing driver
  • 1974 – Lee Carsley, Irish footballer
  • 1974 – Moana Mackey, New Zealand politician
  • 1975 – Mike Rucker, American football player
  • 1976 – Ali Larter, American actress and model
  • 1976 – Adam Pine, Australian swimmer
  • 1976 – Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge, Canadian actor
  • 1977 – Jason Aldean, American country singer
  • 1978 – Benjamin Raich, Austrian Olympic skier
  • 1978 – Jamaal Tinsley, American basketball player
  • 1978 – Mariano Zabaleta, Argentine tennis player
  • 1979 – Sébastien Bourdais, French racing driver
  • 1979 – Michael Bisping, English mixed martial artist
  • 1979 – Ivo Karlovic, Croatian tennis player
  • 1979 – Primož Peterka, Slovenian ski jumper
  • 1980 – Pascal Bosschaart, Dutch footballer
  • 1980 – Lucian Bute, Romanian-born Quebec boxer
  • 1980 – Piotr Giza, Polish footballer
  • 1980 – Tayshaun Prince, American basketball player
  • 1981 – Brian Bannister, American baseball player
  • 1981 – Florent Serra, French tennis player
  • 1982 – Natalia Vodianova, Russian supermodel
  • 1984 – Ben Fagan, American musician and reality show contestant
  • 1984 – Karolína Kurková, Czech supermodel
  • 1985 – Fefe Dobson, Canadian singer
  • 1985 – Jelena Jankovic, Serbian tennis player
  • 1987 – Kerrea Gilbert, English footballer
  • 1988 – Markéta Irglová, Czech songwriter and actress
  • 1989 – Zhang Liyin, Chinese R&B singer
  • 1991 – Sarah Bolger, Irish actress
  • 2007 – Princess Lalla Khadija of Morocco

February 28 – Deaths:

  • 1261 – Henry III, Duke of Brabant (b. c. 1230)
  • 1326 – Duke Leopold I of Austria (b. 1290)
  • 1453 – Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine (b. 1400)
  • 1485 – Niclas, Graf von Abensberg, German soldier (b. 1441)
  • 1510 – Juan de la Cosa, Spanish cartographer and explorer
  • 1525 – Cuauhtémoc, Aztec ruler
  • 1572 – Aegidius Tschudi, Swiss historian (b. 1505)
  • 1621 – Cosimo II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (b. 1590)
  • 1648 – King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway (b. 1577)
  • 1746 – Hermann von der Hardt, German historian (b. 1660)
  • 1786 – John Gwynn, English architect and engineer (b. 1713)
  • 1788 – Thomas Cushing, American Continental Congressman (b. 1725)
  • 1857 – André Dumont, Belgian geologist (b. 1809)
  • 1869 – Alphonse de Lamartine, French writer and poet (b. 1790)
  • 1916 – Henry James, American writer (b. 1843)
  • 1925 – Friedrich Ebert, Chancellor of Germany (b. 1871)
  • 1929 – Clemens von Pirquet, Austrian physician (b. 1874)
  • 1932 – Guillaume Bigourdan, French astronomer (b. 1851)
  • 1935 – Chiquinha Gonzaga, Brazilian composer (b. 1847).
  • 1936 – Charles Nicolle, French bacteriologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or  Medicine (b. 1866)
  • 1941 – King Alfonso XIII of Spain (b. 1886)
  • 1942 – Karel Doorman, Dutch admiral (b. 1889)
  • 1956 – Emile Buisson, French murderer executed (b. 1902)
  • 1959 – Maxwell Anderson, American playwright and film writer (b. 1888)
  • 1963 – Rajendra Prasad, First President of India (b. 1884)
  • 1966 – Jonathan Hale, Canadian-born actor (b. 1891)
  • 1967 – Henry Luce, American publisher (b. 1898)
  • 1974 – Bobby Bloom, American singer/songwriter (b. 1946)
  • 1977 – Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, American actor (b. 1905)
  • 1978 – Philip Ahn, American actor (b. 1905)
  • 1978 – Zara Cully, American actress (b. 1892)
  • 1978 – Eric Frank Russell, English author (b. 1905)
  • 1979 – Paul Alverdes, German writer (b. 1897)
  • 1985 – David Byron, English singer (Uriah Heep) (b. 1947)
  • 1985 – Ray Ellington, English singer (b. 1916)
  • 1986 – Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden (b. 1927)
  • 1986 – Laura Z. Hobson, American novelist (b. 1900)
  • 1991 – Reinhard Bendix, German sociologist (b. 1916)
  • 1991 – Wassily Hoeffding, American statistician (b. 1914)
  • 1993 – Ishiro Honda, Japanese film director (b. 1911)
  • 1993 – Ruby Keeler, Canadian actress and dancer (b. 1910)
  • 1998 – Dermot Morgan, Irish actor and comedian (b. 1952)
  • 1998 – Arkady Shevchenko, Soviet diplomat (b. 1930)
  • 1999 – Christine Glanville, British Puppeteer (. 1924)
  • 2002 – Mary Stuart, American actress (b. 1926)
  • 2002 – Helmut Zacharias, German violinist (b. 1920)
  • 2003 – Chris Brasher, English athlete (b. 1928)
  • 2003 – Fidel Sánchez Hernández, President of El Salvador (b. 1917)
  • 2003 – Roger Michael Needham, British cryptographer (b. 1935)
  • 2003 – Rudolf Kingslake, Lens designer, and Engineer (b. 1903)
  • 2004 – Daniel J. Boorstin, American historian, writer, and Librarian of Congress (b. 1914)
  • 2004 – Carmen Laforet, famed Spanish novelist
  • 2004 – Andres Nuiamäe, Estonian soldier (b. 1982)
  • 2006 – Owen Chamberlain, American physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1920)
  • 2007 – Baron Charles Forte, Italian-born hotelier (b. 1908)
  • 2007 – Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. American historian and political commentator (b.1917)
  • 2007 – Billy Thorpe, Australian musician (Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs) (b. 1946)
  • 2008 – Mike Smith, English musician (The Dave Clark Five) (b. 1943)

February 28 – Holidays:

  • Bahá’í Faith – Day 3 of Ayyám-i-Há (Intercalary Days) – days in the Bahá’í calendar devoted to service and gift giving.
  • Kalevala Day, The Day of Finnish Culture – Finland
  • Peace Memorial Day, the day of commemorating the 228 Incident – Taiwan
  • Liturgical observances:
    • Mar Abba
    • Abercius (martyr)
    • Saint Hilarius (died 468)
    • Saint Romanus (died 463)
    • Saint Oswald (d. 992)
    • Saint Rufinus
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