This Day in History: Feb. 23

Xi Jinping, China’s president. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On this day, Feb. 23 …

2020: Chinese President Xi Jinping defends the Communist Party’s response to the coronavirus as “timely and effective,” but warns that the epidemic is still “grim and complex.”

Also on this day:

  • 1836: The siege of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas.
  • 1861: President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington to take office, following word of a possible assassination plot in Baltimore.
  • 1870: Mississippi is readmitted to the Union.
  • 1903: President Theodore Roosevelt signs an agreement with Cuba to lease the area around Guantanamo Bay to the United States.
  • 1942: The first shelling of the U.S. mainland during World War II occurs as a Japanese submarine fired on an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing little damage.
  • 1945: During World War II, U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima capture Mount Suribachi, where they raise two American flags (the second flag-raising is captured in the iconic Associated Press photograph.)
  • 1954: The first mass inoculation of schoolchildren against polio using the Salk vaccine begins in Pittsburgh as some 5,000 students are vaccinated.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy The double act will live on in a pair of cicadas. Stan (left) and Oliver (right) have two noisy creatures, Baeturia hardyi and Baeturia laureli, to continue their legacy.  (AP)

  • 1965: Film comedian Stan Laurel, 74, dies in Santa Monica, California.
  • 1995: The Dow Jones industrial average closes above the 4,000 mark for the first time, ending the day at 4,003.33.
  • 1998: Tornadoes in central Florida leave 42 people dead, some 2,600 homes and businesses damaged or destroyed.
  • 2006: Japan’s Shizuka Arakawa stuns favorites Sasha Cohen of the United States and Irina Slutskaya of Russia to win the ladies’ figure skating gold medal at the Turin Winter Olympics.

  • 2007: A Mississippi grand jury refuses to bring any new charges in the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till, the Black teenager who was beaten and shot after being accused of whistling at a White woman. Grand jurors decline to indict the woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, for manslaughter.
  • 2011: In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration says it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.
  • 2016: Donald Trump wins the Nevada Republican caucuses; Marco Rubio finishes second while Ted Cruz places third.

  • 2020: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro writes a memo to President Trump warning, “There is an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life as many as 1-2 million souls.”

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