1673: French playwright and actor Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin), collapsed during a performance of his new play, Le Malade Imagi-naire (The Hypochondriac) and died four hours later. He was 51.
1804: The first self-propelled steam locomotive was fired up at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.
1828: The first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix was published, becoming the first periodical to use the Chero-kee syllabary invented by Sequoyah.
1842: John Greenough was granted the first U.S. patent for a sewing machine.
1848: Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) published The Communist Manifesto.
1878: The first telephone directory was issued, by the District Telephone Company of New Haven, Conn.
1885: The newly com-pleted Washington Monu-ment was dedicated.
1918: The last Carolina Parakeet died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo. (It was the only parrot species indig-enous to the U.S.)
1947: Edwin H. Land publicly demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a black-and-white photograph in 60 sec-onds.
1948: NASCAR was incor-porated in Daytona Beach, Fla.
1958: The peace symbol, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establish-ment, was designed and com-pleted by Gerald Holtom (1914-1985).
1965: Former Black Mus-lim leader Malcolm X was shot to death in New York by assassins identified as Black Muslims.
1986: The Legend of Zelda, the first game of The Legend of Zelda series, was released in Japan on the Famicom Disk System.
1995: Steve Fossett (1944-2007) became the first per-son to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon, upon landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Cana-da.
1732: First U.S. President George Washington was born in Wakefield, Va. (He was actually born Feb. 11, 1731, under the old-style calendar in use at the time of his birth.)
1797: The island of Great Britain was invaded for the last time (by the French.)
1856: The Republican Party opened its first nation-al meeting in Pittsburgh.
1861: Edward Payson Weston began his 11-day walk from Boston to Wash-ington to see the inaugura-tion of Abraham Lincoln.
1878: Woolworth became a phenomenal success. The store opened with the prem-ise that nothing costs more than a nickel.
1889: President Grover Cleveland signed a bill admit-ting North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wash-ington as U.S. states.
1890: James Joseph “JJ” Stumbo, 7, died after falling into a boiling hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.
1924: President Calvin Coolidge became the first president to deliver a radio broadcast from the White House.
1944: American aircraft mistakenly bombed the Dutch towns of Nijmegen, Arnhem, Enschede and Deventer, killing 800 people in Nijmegen alone.
1959: Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500.
2002: Bugs Bunny ani-mator Chuck Jones died in Corona del Mar, Calif.
1455: The first Gutenberg Bible was printed, becoming the first Western book print-ed with movable type.
1848: John Quincy Adams (sixth president, 1825-1829) died while giving a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. His last words were, “This is the last of Earth. I am content.”
1861: President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington, D.C., after an alleged assassination plot was thwarted in Balti-more, Md.
1886: Charles Martin Hall produced the first samples of man-made aluminum after several years of intensive work.
1896: The Tootsie Roll was invented in Chicago, becoming the first individu-ally wrapped penny candy.
1927: In response to the burgeoning number of broadcast radio stations, President Calvin Coolidge signed a bill establishing the Federal Radio Commission. (It became the Federal Com-munications Commission in 1934.)
1942: Japanese subma-rines fired artillery shells at the California coastline near Santa Barbara, propelling the movement to forcibly relo-cate American citizens of Japanese descent.
1954: The first mass inoc-ulation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh.
1582: Pope Gregory XIII unveiled the Gregorian calen-dar, which eventually re-placed the less-than-accurate Julian calendar.
1825: Thomas Bowdler, the man who re-wrote Shakespeare to remove the “offensive bits,” died on this day and added a new word, bowdlerize to the language. Bowdlerize means to remove material that is considered improper or offensive from (a text or account), especially with the result that it be-comes weaker or less effec-tive.
1831: The first removal treaty in accordance with the Indian Removal Act, known as the Treaty of Dancing Rab-bit Creek, was proclaimed, in which the Choctaws in Mis-sissippi ceded land east of the river in exchange for payment and land in the West.
1916: The Governor-General of Korea established a clinic in Sorokdo to segre-gate leprosy patients.
1920: The Nazi Party was founded in Munich, Ger-many, by Anton Drexler.
1942: Only three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a false alarm led to an anti-aircraft barrage over Los Angeles, Calif., that lasted into the early hours of Feb. 25. The Canadian federal government began interning all persons of Japanese origin.
1983: A special commis-sion of the U.S. Congress re-leased a report that con-demned the practice of Japa-nese internment during World War II.
1984: Tyrone Mitchell (born 1955) took guns into 49th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, where he killed two children and injured 12 more, before shooting himself in the head with a double-barrel shot-gun.
1989: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini offered a bounty of US$3 million for the death of Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. United Airlines Flight 811, bound for New Zealand from Honolulu, ripped open during flight and blew nine passengers out of the business-class section.
2008: Fidel Castro retired after nearly 50 years as the as the President of Cuba.
1836: Samuel Colt was granted a U.S. patent for the Colt revolver.
1870: Hiram Rhodes Rev-els (1827-1901), a Republi-can from Mississippi, was sworn into the U.S. Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in the U.S. Congress.
1919: Oregon placed a 1 cent per gallon tax on gaso-line, becoming the first U.S. state to levy a gasoline tax.
1928: Charles Jenkins Laboratories of Washington, D.C. became the first holder of a television license from the Federal Radio Commis-sion.
1932: Austrian native Adolf Hitler obtained German citizenship by naturalization, which allowed him to run in the 1932 election for Reichspra sident.
1947: The Kingdom of Prussia, in existence since the early 13th century, ceased to exist.
1983: American author Tennessee Williams died when he choked on an eye-drop bottle-cap in his room at the Hotel Elysee in New York. He would routinely place the cap in his mouth, lean back, and place his eyedrops in each eye.
1999: Dominguez Garcia was killed by an airborne cow in Vacaville, Calif. The animal had strayed onto the highway and was struck by another vehicle, launching it into his lane where it crashed through his windshield.
2008: San Antonio, Tex-as, recorded a record high 92 degrees Fahrenheit.
1909: Kinemacolor, the first successful color motion picture process, was first shown to the general public at the Palace Theatre in Lon-don.
1917: The Original Dixie-land Jass Band recorded the first jazz record, for the Vic-tor Talking Machine Compa-ny in New York. (The spelling of the band’s name was changed to “Jazz” later in the year.)
1919: President Wood-row Wilson signed an act of the U.S. Congress establish-ing most of the Grand Canyon as Grand Canyon National Park.
1929: President Calvin Coolidge signed an executive order establishing the 96,000-acre Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
1935: Radar was first demonstrated in England, leading to a system that helped the Royal Air force win the Battle of Britain against Nazi Germany.
1971: U.N. Secretary Gen-eral U Thant signed the Unit-ed Nations proclamation of the vernal equinox as Earth Day.
1993: A truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City ex-ploded, killing six and injur-ing over a thousand.
1995: U.S. singer-songwriter Selena gave her last televised concert in front of over 66,746 people, for a record breaking third time at the Houston Astrodome, nearly a month before she was shot to death by Yolanda Saldí var, the former presi-dent of her fan club.
1807: Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine.
1827: Students in masks and costumes took to the streets of New Orleans, cele-brating the first Mardi Gras.
1860: Abraham Lincoln made a speech at Cooper Union (college) in New York City that was largely respon-sible for his election to the presidency.
1897: Great Britain recog-nized the United States’ au-thority over the Western Hemisphere.
1927: For the second Sunday in a row, golfers in South Carolina were arrested for violating the Sabbath.
1943: An explosion at the Smith coal mine in Bear Creek, Mont., killed 75 min-ers.
1951: The 22nd Amend-ment to the U.S. Constitution, limiting presidents to two terms, was ratified.
1964: The Italian govern-ment announced it would accept suggestions on how to save the renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa from collaps-ing. Successful restorative work began in 1999.
1973: The American Indi-an Movement occupied Wounded Knee, South Dako-ta, in a siege that lasted sev-enty-one days.
1981: Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney recorded “Ebony and Ivory.”
1992: Tiger Woods at sixteen years of age became the youngest PGA golfer in thirty-five years.
2012: Wikileaks began disclosing five million emails from the private intelligence company, Stratfor.