This Day in History

Posted: Monday, February 23, 2004

In Alaska

• In 1936, the old log Custom House and Post Office at Sitka, a relic of Russian days, was destroyed by fire.

• In 1937, a major fire in Douglas destroyed the school, the post office, City Hall and the fire hall.

• In 1939, the first regular mail to Anchorage was delivered by a special train from Seward. It was delivered to Seward from Seattle by the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer.

• In 1985, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner surrendered its distinction as "Alaska's Widest Newspaper" by changing to the standard 16" wide format, from a previous 17".

In the nation

• In 1822, Boston was granted a charter to incorporate as a city.

• In 1836, the siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio.

• In 1848, the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, died of a stroke at age 80.

• In 1861, President-elect Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington to take office after an assassination plot was foiled in Baltimore.

• In 1870, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union.

• In 1942, the first shelling of the U.S. mainland during World War II occurred as a Japanese submarine fired on an oil refinery in Ellwood, Calif.

• In 1954, the first mass innoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh.

• In 1999, a jury in Jasper, Texas, convicted white supremacist John William King of murder in the gruesome dragging death of a black man, James Byrd Jr. King was sentenced to death two days later.

• In 2003, in West Warwick, R.I., relatives of the victims of a deadly nightclub fire were allowed to walk up to the charred rubble to pray and say goodbye. Norah Jones won five Grammys, including album and record of the year, at the Grammy Awards in New York.

In the world

• In 1847, U.S. troops under Gen. Zachary Taylor defeated Mexican Gen. Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico.

• In 1945, during World War II, U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima captured Mount Suribachi, where they raised the American flag.

• In 1981, an attempted coup began in Spain as 200 members of the Civil Guard invaded the Parliament, taking lawmakers hostage. However, the attempt collapsed 18 hours later.

• In 1994, the military chiefs of Bosnia's Muslim-led government and their second-strongest foes, Bosnia's Croats, signed a truce. Russia's new parliament took a swipe at President Boris Yeltsin by granting amnesty to leaders of the 1991 Soviet coup and the hard-liners who'd fought him in 1993. Nancy Kerrigan led the women's figure skating short program at the Winter Olympics in Norway, while Tonya Harding placed 10th.

• In 1997, scientists in Scotland announced they had succeeded in cloning an adult mammal, producing a lamb named "Dolly." Dolly, however, was put down Feb. 14, 2003, after a short life marred by premature aging and disease.

• In 1999, Serbs agreed in principle to give limited self-rule to majority ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, thereby avoiding for the time being threatened NATO air strikes, but the two sides failed to conclude a deal for ending their yearlong conflict during talks in Rambouillet, France.

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