What Happened on February 23?

  • The first mass polio vaccine was given. (1954) Polio was a devastating, widespread disease before Jonas Salk discovered the vaccine for it. Although there were fears about the vaccine actually causing polio after a faulty batch infected several children, the vaccine later became widespread throughout the world, and the disease was virtually eradicated.

  • The Gutenberg Bible is said to have been printed. (1455) The printing of the Gutenberg Bible marked a huge innovation in publishing, since it was the first book published with movable type.

  • The first commercially viable aluminum was made. (1886) Aluminum was manufactured after years of experimentation by Charles Martin Hall, and quickly became a widely used commercial product. By the 21st century, aluminum was produced more than any other non-ferrous metal.

  • The US flag was raised on Iwo Jima. (1945) The picture of the raising of the flag became one of the most well-recognized images of the war, and won a Pulitzer for the photographer, Joe Rosenthal.

  • The Battle of the Alamo began. (1836) Though the battle only lasted a few days, it was a major turning point in the Texas Revolution. The cruelty of the Mexican forces to the soldiers at the Alamo greatly inspired people to volunteer for the Texian Army, and the newly buoyed forces beat the Mexican Army, ending the revolution a few months later.

  • Lincoln avoided an assassination attempt. (1861) Rumors flew about a plot to assassinate Lincoln in Baltimore on his way to his inauguration, so Lincoln secretly snuck through the city and arrived in Washington D.C. on this day. His actions were later seen as cowardly, and affected people's opinion of him as he started his presidency.

  • Cuba leased Guantanamo Bay to the US in perpetuity. (1903) Guantanamo Bay is the only US military base in a country with which the US does not have diplomatic relations. The legality of the original lease was offered at the end of the Spanish-American War by the first president of Cuba. Guantanamo Bay is also home to Cuba's first and only McDonald's restaurant.

  • The Federal Radio Commission (FRC) began monitoring US radio transmissions. (1927) In a move which some radio broadcasters came to regret, the Federal Radio Commission — later the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — was invited to begin monitoring radio transmission to bring some order to the airwaves. The FRC could take a radio station's content into consideration when deciding whether to renew its license, which some felt was a violation of the right to free speech.

  • The Islamic prophet Mohammed is said to have preached his last sermon. (632) Known as the Khutbatul Wada', Mohammed's last sermon covers a variety of spiritual and practical matters, and is still referenced as a major Islamic text.

  • The Rotary Club formed. (1905) It was originally founded by four Chicago businessmen as the world's first secular service organization. It quickly grew and became international, with well over 1 million members.

Discussion Comments


In regards to the polio vaccine, does this mean that polio no longer exists? While this is a wonderful thing, I feel that sometimes, we have to be careful. After all, isn't it possible for the diseases and/or viruses to develop an immunity to the vaccine? I've seen it other times, especially with insects. A batch of chemicals is used to dispose of pesky household bugs. Though it works initially, it takes more and more of a batch to dispose of them.


It's interesting that aluminum was made. I had never even thought about it until now, but how exactly was it made, and what is it composed of? Who knew that an invention dating all the way back to 1886 would garner such high results and usage?


Prior to reading this article, I didn't know that Lincoln avoided an assassination attempt. It was very clever of him to sneak away and avoid confrontation. However, it's quite unfortunate that because of this, others looked down upon him. Sometimes, when we're in a very high ranking positions, we always have to make the toughest decisions. However, there's not always a "right" or wrong decision, and whichever one you choose, not everyone will be pleased.

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