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Today in History: February 28 – Pope Benedict XVI becomes first pope in six centuries to resign

BlogToday in History: February 28 - Pope Benedict XVI becomes first pope in six centuries to resign

Today is Wednesday, February 28, 2024, marking the 59th day of the year with 307 days remaining.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation (2013)

On this day in 2013, Pope Benedict XVI made history by becoming the first pope in six centuries to resign from his position. Benedict’s resignation marked the end of an eight-year pontificate and paved the way for the election of his successor, Pope Francis.

Notable Events on February 28:

USS Princeton Explosion (1844)

In 1844, tragedy struck aboard the USS Princeton when a 12-inch gun exploded while the ship was sailing on the Potomac River. This explosion resulted in the deaths of several prominent figures, including Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur and Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer.

California Gold Rush Begins (1849)

The California gold rush began in earnest in 1849, as regular steamship service started bringing gold-seekers to San Francisco. This event sparked a massive influx of people to California in search of fortune, shaping the state’s history and economy for years to come.

Discovery of DNA Structure (1953)

In 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announced their groundbreaking discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. This discovery revolutionized the field of biology and laid the foundation for our understanding of genetics.

Shanghai Communique (1972)

President Richard M. Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai issued the Shanghai Communique in 1972, calling for the normalization of relations between the United States and China. This historic agreement marked a significant thaw in Cold War tensions and paved the way for improved diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Waco Siege Begins (1993)

On February 28, 1993, a gun battle erupted at a religious compound near Waco, Texas, when law enforcement agents attempted to arrest Branch Davidian leader David Koresh on weapons charges. This event marked the beginning of a 51-day standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidians, which ended tragically with the deaths of dozens of people.


Frank Gehry (1929) – Celebrated architect known for his innovative and avant-garde designs.

Sam the Sham (1937) – Renowned singer best known for his hit song “Wooly Bully.”

Tommy Tune (1939) – Multi-talented actor, director, and dancer who has won numerous Tony Awards for his work in Broadway musicals.

Mario Andretti (1940) – Legendary auto racer and former Formula One World Champion.

Kelly Bishop (1944) – Esteemed actor known for her roles in television shows like “Gilmore Girls” and “Dirty Dancing.”

Mike Figgis (1948) – Acclaimed filmmaker known for his work on movies like “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Internal Affairs.”

Bernadette Peters (1948) – Award-winning actor and singer known for her iconic performances in Broadway musicals such as “Into the Woods” and “Traveler.”

Paul Krugman (1953) – Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist known for his work in international economics and trade theory.

John Turturro (1957) – Versatile actor known for his roles in films like “Barton Fink” and “The Big Lebowski.”

Jason Aldean (1977) – Country music superstar known for hit songs like “Dirt Road Anthem” and “Burnin’ It Down.”

February 28th is a date marked by significant historical events and the birthdays of notable individuals from various fields. From scientific breakthroughs to diplomatic agreements and cultural milestones, this day serves as a reminder of the richness and diversity of human history.


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