On This Day, Feb. 23, 1836 – The Battle for the Alamo Begins
1836 – In San Antonio, TX, the siege of the Alamo began.
On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texans and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna’s army.
William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas. On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly two hundred. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did.
As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo’s garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.
The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo’s walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound.
Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.
1574 – France began the 5th holy war against the Huguenots.
1821 – The Philadelphia College of Apothecaries established the first pharmacy college.
1822 – Boston was incorporated as a city.
1847 – Santa Anna was defeated at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico by U.S. troops under Gen. Zachary Taylor.
1861 – U.S. President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington to take his office after an assassination attempt in Baltimore.
1861 – Texas became the 7th state to secede from the Union.
1870 – The state of Mississippi was readmitted to the Union.
1874 – Walter Winfield patented a game called “sphairistike.” More widely known as lawn tennis.
1883 – Alabama became the first U.S. state to enact an antitrust law.
1887 – The French/Italian Riviera was hit by an earthquake that killed about 2,000.
1896 – The Tootsie Roll was introduced by Leo Hirshfield.
1904 – The U.S. acquired control of the Panama Canal Zone for $10 million.
1905 – The Rotary Club was founded in Chicago, IL, by Attorney Paul Harris and three others.
1919 – The Fascist Party was formed in Italy by Benito Mussolini.
1927 – The Federal Radio Commission began assigning frequencies, hours of operation and power allocations for radio broadcasters. On July 1, 1934 the name was changed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
1940 – Walt Disney’s animated movie “Pinocchio” was released.
1945 – The 28th Regiment of the Fifth Marine Division of the U.S. Marines reached the top of Mount Surabachi. A photograph of these Marines raising the American flag was taken.
1954 – The first mass vaccination of children against polio began in Pittsburgh.
1957 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the NFL operations did fall within coverage of antitrust laws.
1963 – The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It prohibited poll taxes in federal elections.
1968 – Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia 76ers) became the first player to score 25,000 career points in the NBA.
1970 – Guyana became a republic.
1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army demanded $4 million more for the release of Patty Hearst. Hearst had been kidnapped on February 4th.
1980 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared that Iran’s new parliament would have to decide the fate of the hostages taken on November 4, 1979, at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
1991 – During the Persian Gulf War, ground forces crossed the border of Saudi Arabia into the country of Iraq. Less than four days later the war was over due to the surrender or withdraw of Iraqi forces.
1997 – NBC-TV aired “Schindler’s List.” It was completely uncensored.
1997 – Ali Hassan Abu Kamal, a Palestinian teacher, opened fire on the 86th-floor observation deck of New York City’s Empire State Building. He killed one person and wounded six more before killing himself.
1999 – White supremacist John William King was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering James Byrd Jr. Byrd was dragged behind a truck for two miles on a country road in Texas.
2000 – Robby Knievel made a successful motorcycle jump of 200 feet over an oncoming train.
2005 – The New York, NY, city medical examiner’s office announced that it had exhausted all efforts to identify the remains of the people killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, due to the limits of DNA technology. About 1,600 people had been identified leaving more than 1,100 unidentified.