for February 17, from the source of all reliable information, Wikepedia. I have deleted all unimportant (re: things that don't interest me) from this list:
1600 - Philosopher Giordano Bruno is burned alive at Campo de' Fiori in Rome, charged of heresy.
1621 - Myles Standish is appointed as first commander of Plymouth colony.
1801 - An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved when Jefferson is elected President of the United States and Burr Vice President by the United States House of Representatives.
1819 - The United States House of Representatives passes the Missouri Compromise.
1864 - American Civil War: The H. L. Hunley becomes the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.
1865 - American Civil War: Columbia, South Carolina is burned as Confederate forces flee from advancing Union forces.
1867 - The first ship passes through the Suez Canal.
1904 - Madama Butterfly premiers at La Scala in Milan.
1925 - Harold Ross and Jane Grant found The New Yorker magazine; the debut issue is dated February 21, 1925.
1933 - The magazine Newsweek is published for the first time.
1933 - The Blaine Act ends Prohibition in the United States.
1936 - The world's first superhero, The Phantom, makes his first appearance in comics.
1947 - The Voice of America begins to transmit radio broadcasts into the Soviet Union.
1964 - In Wesberry v. Sanders the Supreme Court of the United States rules that congressional districts have to be approximately equal in population.
1992 - A court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin sentences serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to life in prison.
1996 - In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, world champion Garry Kasparov beats the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.
2006 - A massive mudslide occurs in Southern Leyte, Philippines; the official death toll is set at 1,126.
2008 - Kosovo declares independence from Serbia.
1653 - Arcangelo Corelli, Italian composer (d. 1713)
1718 - Matthew Tilghman, American Continental Congressman (d. 1790)
1752 - Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, German writer (d. 1831)
1796 - Philipp Franz von Siebold, German physician (d. 1866)
1844 - Aaron Montgomery Ward, American department store founder (d. 1913)
1848 - Louisa Lawson, Australian suffragist and writer (d. 1920)
1854 - Friedrich Alfred Krupp, German industrialist (d. 1902)
1863 - Fyodor Sologub, Russian symbolist novelist and poet (d. 1927)
1874 - Thomas J. Watson, American computer manufacturer (d. 1956)
1885 - Steve Evans, American baseball player (d. 1943)
1888 - Otto Stern, German physicist, Nobel Prize Laureate (d. 1969)
1893 - Wally Pipp, American baseball player (d. 1965)
1904 - Hans Morgenthau, German political philosopher (d. 1980)
1908 - Red Barber, American baseball announcer (d. 1992)
1910 - Arthur Hunnicutt, American actor (d. 1979)
1910 - Marc Lawrence, American actor (d. 2005)
1914 - Arthur Kennedy, American actor (d. 1990)
1914 - Wayne Morris, American actor (d. 1959)
1916 - Alexander Obolensky, Russian prince and famed Rugby Union footballer who played for England (d. 1940)
1919 - Kathleen Freeman, American actress (d. 2001)
1922 - Tommy Edwards, American singer (d. 1969)
1922 - Marshall Teague, American race car driver (d. 1959)
1924 - Margaret Truman, American novelist (d. 2008)
1925 - Ron Goodwin, English composer and conductor (d. 2003)
1925 - Hal Holbrook, American actor
1930 - Roger Craig, American baseball player and manager
1933 - Bobby Lewis, American singer
1933 - Craig L. Thomas, American politician (d. 2007)
1934 - Alan Bates, English actor (d. 2003)
1936 - Jim Brown, American football player
1939 - John Leyton, British singer
1939 - Mary Ann Mobley, American actress and beauty queen
1940 - Gene Pitney, American singer (d. 2006)
1942 - Huey P. Newton, American political activist (d. 1989)
1945 - Zina Bethune, American actress
1953 - Norman Pace, British actor and comic
1954 - Rene Russo, American actress
1956 - Richard Karn, American actor
1959 - Neil Lomax, American football player
1962 - Lou Diamond Phillips, American actor
1963 - Michael Jordan, American basketball player
1963 - Larry the Cable Guy, American comedian
1966 - Michael Lepond, American musician
1967 - Chanté Moore, American singer
1968 - Bryan Cox, National Football League player
1969 - Tuesday Knight, American actress
1970 - Tim Mahoney, American musician (311)
1970 - Tommy Moe, American Olympic skier
1970 - Dominic Purcell, English-born actor
1971 - Martyn Bennett, Canadian composer (d. 2005)
1971 - Jeremy Edwards, British actor
1971 - Denise Richards, American actress
1972 - Billie Joe Armstrong, American musician (Green Day)
1972 - Philippe Candeloro, French figure skater
1972 - Taylor Hawkins, American musician (Foo Fighters)
1974 - Jerry O'Connell, American actor
1974 - Bryan White, American singer
1975 - Wish Bone, American rapper
1976 - Kelly Carlson, American actress
1976 - Scott Williamson, American baseball player
1979 - Josh Willingham, American baseball player
1980 - Al Harrington, American basketball player
1980 - Jason Ritter, American actor
1981 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, American actor
1981 - Paris Hilton, American actress and heiress
1982 - Brian Bruney, American baseball player
1982 - Lupe Fiasco, American hip hop artist
1984 - Jimmy Jacobs, American professional wrestler
1992 - Meaghan Jette Martin, American child actress and singer
1600 - Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher (burned at the stake) (b. 1548)
1609 - Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (b. 1549)
1673 - Molière, French playwright (b. 1622)
1856 - Heinrich Heine, German writer (b. 1797)
1909 - Geronimo, Apache leader (b. 1829)
1970 - Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Israeli writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1888)
1970 - Alfred Newman, American film composer (b. 1901)
1982 - Thelonious Monk, American jazz pianist (b. 1917)
1982 - Lee Strasberg, Austrian-born actor (b. 1901)
1989 - Lefty Gomez, American baseball player (b. 1908)
1990 - Erik Rhodes, American actor (b. 1906)
1998 - Ernst Jünger, German author (b. 1895)
1998 - Bob Merrill, American composer and lyricist (b. 1921)
2001 - Khalid Abdul Muhammed, American Nation of Islam spokesman (b. 1948)
2004 - José López Portillo, President of Mexico (b. 1920)
2005 - Dan O'Herlihy, Irish actor (b. 1919)
2007 - Mike Awesome, American professional wrestler (b. 1965)
2007 - Maurice Papon, French Nazi collaborator (b. 1910)