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763 Feb 17
The An Lushan rebellion, begun in 755, ended. It had spanned the reigns of 3 Tang emperors before it was quashed. The rebellion and subsequent disorder resulted in a huge loss of life and large-scale destruction.
Links: China, Tragedy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1600 Feb 17
Giordano Bruno (b.1548), Italian philosopher, occasional alchemist and advocate of Copernican theory, was burned at stake by the Catholic Church. In 2008 Ingrid D. Rowland authored “Giordano Bruno: Philosopher / Heretic.”
Links: Italy, Philosophy, Inquisition     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1776 Feb 17
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), English historian, published his 1st volume of "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." He completed the 6-volume classic in 1788.
Links: Britain, Romans, Historian, Writer, Books     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1796 Feb 17
James Macpherson (b.1736), Scottish poet, died. In 1761 he had announced the discovery of an epic on the subject of Fingal written by Ossian (based on Fionn's son Oisín). He then published poems by Ossian, the alleged blind 3rd century poet, which became very popular and later exposed as a fraud.
Links: Poet, Scotland, Fraud     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1820 Feb 17
Henri Vieuxtemps, composer, teacher (Brussels Cons), was born in Verviers, Belgium.
Links: Belgium     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1833 Feb 17
Lt. George Back departed Liverpool, England, on the packet ship Hibernia with 4 men to search for missing Arctic explorer Captain John Ross. Ross had left England in 1829 to seek a Northwest Passage by way of the Arctic Ocean.
Links: Arctic     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1836 Feb 17
HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin left Tasmania.
Links: Australia     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1856 Feb 17
Heinrich Heine (b.1797), German journalist and poet, died in Paris. His prose work included a series of travel memoirs that began in 1826 with “The Harz Journey.”
Links: France, Germany, Poet, Writer, Journalism     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1864 Feb 17
Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson (d.1941), Australian poet and journalist, was born. He is best known for his song “Waltzing Matilda.”
Links: Australia     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1867 Feb 17
The 1st ship passed through the Suez Canal.
Links: Egypt     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1901 Feb 17
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) conducted the Viennese premiere of his Second Symphony, which also saw the first public performance of his early work Das klagende Lied, in a revised two-part form.
Links: Austria, Composer, Classical Music     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1901 Feb 17
Carles Casagemas (b.1881), Spanish painter and close friend of Picasso, shot himself in front of Germaine Pichot.
Links: Artist, Spain, France, Suicide     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1905 Feb 17
Russia’s Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (b.1857), the brother of Tsar Alexander III, was assassinated by a terrorist bomb at the Kremlin.
Links: Russia, Murder     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Feb 17
Marjorie Lawrence, soprano (Venus-Tannhauser), was born in Australia.
Links: Australia     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Feb 17
Apache chief Geronimo died of pneumonia at age 80, while still in captivity at Fort Sill, Okla.
Links: AmerIndian     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1910 Feb 17
In San Francisco 3 elephants appearing at a Broadway vaudeville house went on a rampage while parading in North Beach.
Links: USA, SF, Animal     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1937 Feb 17
Nearly at the end of the four years of construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, 10 construction workers lost their lives when a section of scaffold fell through a safety net. When construction began on the 35-million-dollar bridge spanning the Golden Gate Strait between San Francisco and Marin County, Chief Engineer Joseph B. Strauss was determined to use the most rigorous safety precautions available. Protective hardhats and glare-free goggles were required and special diets were developed to combat dizziness. But it was the safety net strung under the bridge during construction that saved the lives of 19 men who became known as the "Half-Way-to-Hell" Club. Until February 17, 1937, only one life had been lost during construction. The Golden Gate Bridge opened to vehicular traffic on May 28, 1937.
Links: USA, SF, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1941 Feb 17
The SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat. The British ship was carrying some 219 tons of silver when it sank in the North Atlantic some 300 miles (490 km) off the Irish coast. Of the 85 people on board, only one survived. In 2011 Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration confirmed the identity and location of the ship. In 2012 Odyssey Marine Exploration said it had succeeded in removing about 43% of the insured silver.
Links: Britain, Germany, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1942 Feb 17
Sidney Newsom (b.1877), California architect, died. He and his brother Noble created homes that recalled Spanish haciendas, English cottages, French chateaus and American colonial homesteads.
Links: USA, California, Architect     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1957 Feb 17
Suez Canal reopened.
Links: Egypt     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1958 Feb 17
The comic strip "B.C.", created by Johnny Hart (1931-2007), 1st appeared.
Links: USA, Cartoons     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1964 Feb 17
The Supreme Court ruled in Westberry vs. Sanders that congressional districts within each state had to be roughly equal in population. Boundaries would need to be redrawn after every census.
Links: USA, Supreme Court, Census     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1966 Feb 17
Alfred P. Sloan Jr. (b.1875) former president GM (1923-1956), died. As president of GM he brought in corporate management, introduced the ideas of model changes and offering a car "for every purse and purpose." In 2002 David Farber authored "Sloan Rules."
Links: USA, Michigan, Cars, Biography     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1969 Feb 17
Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash recorded an album that was never released.
Links: USA, Pop&Rock     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1969 Feb 17
Russia and Peru signed their first trade accord.
Links: Russia, Peru, USSR     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1970 Feb 17
Robert Marasco's "Child's Play," opened at the Royal theater on Broadway.
Links: USA, NYC, Theater     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Feb 17
Joni Mitchell (b.1943) held a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Links: Britain, USA, Pop&Rock     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Feb 17
At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald’s wife and 2 daughters were murdered. Dr. MacDonald was convicted of the murders but claimed that drug-crazed assailants were responsible. The book "Fatal Vision" by Joe McGinniss recounted the story. In 2005 evidence was presented that Helena Stoeckley (1953-1983), a defense witness, had admitted to a prosecutor that she was at MacDonald’s house on the night of the murder.
Links: Murder, North Carolina     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Feb 17
Alfred Newman (b.1900), US composer, died.
Links: USA, Composer     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Feb 17
S.Y. Agnon, Jewish writer and Nobel Prize winner (1966) died in Jerusalem. His books included “Days of Awe,” a compendium of Jewish practices, legends and commentaries.
Links: Israel, Writer     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1972 Feb 17
President Nixon departed on his historic 10-day trip to China.
Links: USA, China, NixonR     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1972 Feb 17
Giulio Andreotti (1919-2013) began serving his first term as the 41st prime minister of Italy.
Links: Italy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1973 Feb 17
President Richard Nixon named Patrick Gray director of the FBI.
Links: USA, FBI, NixonR     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1974 Feb 17
Henry Kulbaski (d.2007), White House Secret Service agent, ordered service agents to shoot down a stolen helicopter that was flying around the White House. Robert K. Preston (b.1954), a US Army private, suffered superficial pellet wounds and was taken into custody.
Links: USA, DC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1975 Feb 17
Art by Cezanne, Gauguin, Renoir, and van Gogh, valued at $5 million, was stolen from the Municipal Museum in Milan.
Links: Artist, Italy, Robbery     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1979 Feb 17
China invaded Vietnam and began a "pedagogical" war against Vietnam. China completed its withdrawal on March 19. In China’s border war with Vietnam deputy commander Zhang Wannian led a victorious division offensive in the battle of Liang Shan.
Links: China, Vietnam     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1981 Feb 17
Pope John Paul II met with President Marcos in Manila.
Links: Philippines, Vatican     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1982 Feb 17
Thelonious S. Monk (b.1917), US, jazz pianist, composer (Blue Monk), died. Monk, one of the early bebop musicians of the 1940s, stopped touring and recording in the early 70s, leaving such jazz standards as "Straight, No Chaser" and " ‘Round Midnight." In 2009 Robin D. G. Kelley authored “Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original.”
Links: USA, Jazz, Biography     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1982 Feb 17
Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe dismissed Joshua Nkomo (1917-1999) for plotting a coup. A rebel insurrection that professed loyalty to Nkomo followed and was crushed. Nkomo fled the country.
Links: Zimbabwe     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1983 Feb 17
In California Denise Denofrio was found strangled to death in a car in Fairfield. Alan Hall was convicted in the case of voluntary manslaughter in July. In 1997 a suspected friend of Denofrio lured Hall into having sex and then severed his penis with a knife and escaped.
Links: USA, California, Sex, Murder     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1985 Feb 17
Murray Haydon became the third person to receive an artificial heart.
Links: USA, Medical, Heart     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1985 Feb 17
In Tennessee Sidney Porterfield beat Ron Owens to death at his Shelby County home. On January 14, 1986, Gaile Owens (33), the wife of Ron Owens, was sentenced to death for hiring a stranger to kill her abusive husband. In 2010 her sentenced was commuted to life. In 2011 she won parole.
Links: USA, Tennessee, Murder     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1986 Feb 17
The Single European Act modifying the Treaty of Rome was signed a 1st time in Luxembourg. [see Feb 28] The single European Act was passed to end trade restricting regulations and create a true single European market by 1992.
Links: EU, Luxembourg     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1986 Feb 17
Johnson and Johnson, maker of Tylenol, announced it would no longer sell over-the-counter medications in capsule form, following the death of a woman who had taken a cyanide-laced capsule.
Links: USA, Pharma     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1987 Feb 17
Ireland held elections four weeks after the dissolution of the Dail on 20 January. The newly-elected 166 members of the 25th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 10 March when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed.
Links: Ireland     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1988 Feb 17
Lt. Col. William Higgins, an American officer serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group, was kidnapped in southern Lebanon. He was later slain by his captors.
Links: USA, UN, Lebanon     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1989 Feb 17
Iran's President Ali Khamenei said Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," could save himself from a death sentence pronounced by Ayatollah Khomeini if he were to apologize for his book, which was regarded as blasphemous.
Links: Iran, Writer     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1990 Feb 17
Former President Reagan spent a second day in a Los Angeles courtroom, giving videotaped testimony about the Iran-Contra affair for the trial of his former national security adviser, John Poindexter.
Links: Nicaragua, USA, Iran, ReaganR     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1990 Feb 17
The first set of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) officials were elected. Due to electoral protest, the ARMM formally started to function only on July 9, 1990 following the oath taking of Atty. Zacaria A. Candao as First Regional Governor of ARMM.
Links: Philippines     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1991 Feb 17
During the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz traveled to Moscow for a meeting with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
Links: Iraq, Russia, USSR     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1991 Feb 17
Benin held elections for the National Assembly, its first multi-party election since 1964. No party secured an overall majority. The largest grouping was an alliance of the pro-Soglo parties.
Links: Benin     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1992 Feb 17
Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced in Milwaukee to life in prison. He was beaten to death in prison in November 1994.
Links: USA, Murder, Wisconsin     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1992 Feb 17
Italian police arrested Mario Chiesa, the first one to be picked up in what would become Italy's massive corruption scandals. This date became considered a watershed moment in recent Italian history. Italy’s "Clean Hands" corruption scandal originated in Milan. A series of bribery cases led to the conviction and flight of Socialist Bettino Craxi.
Links: Italy, Corruption     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1993 Feb 17
President Clinton addressed a joint session of Congress, asking Americans to accept one of the biggest tax increases in history as part of a plan to stimulate the economy and curb massive budget deficits.
Links: USA, Taxes, ClintonB     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1993 Feb 17
A ferry carrying up to 1,500 people sank off Haiti’s southern peninsula; only 285 people were known to have survived.
Links: Haiti, Tragedy, Ship     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1994 Feb 17
Bosnian Serbs began large-scale withdrawal of its heavy guns from the hills around Sarajevo under pressure from Russia.
Links: Bosnia, Russia, Serbia     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1994 Feb 17
The U.S. government reported a record trade deficit with Japan the previous year.
Links: USA, Japan     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1995 Feb 17
Federal judge allowed a lawsuit claiming US tobacco makers knew nicotine was addictive and manipulated its levels to keep customers hooked.
Links: USA, Smoking     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1995 Feb 17
Colin Ferguson was convicted of six counts of murder in the December 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings. He was later sentenced to a minimum of 200 years in prison.
Links: USA, New York, Murder     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1996 Feb 17
World chess champion Garry Kasparov beat IBM supercomputer "Deep Blue," winning a six-game match in Philadelphia. Kasparov had lost the first game, won the second, fifth and sixth games and earned draws in the third and fourth.
Links: Pennsylvania, Computer, Chess     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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