[While the country's transition to democracy now seems to be a done deal, on this day in 1981 the process was still underway, and post-Franco Spain was a very shaky thing indeed; fortunately, Antonio Tejero's grand-standing manoeuvre - bursting into the country's Congress of Deputies shortly after 6 pm accompanied by 200 submachine gun-wielding Guardias Civiles during the process of electing the new Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo - was met with defiance by those who mattered most. Having been ordered to the floor with the rest of their colleagues by a pistol-waving Tejero, acting Minister of Defence Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado stood up and ordered Tejero to desist, while acting PM Adolfo Suárez remained seated instead of crouching on the floor, and communist leader Santiago Carrillo calmly lit a cigarette and did not seem to be disturbed by the events. Despite a tense stand-off lasting some seven hours, by the time the King took to the airwaves to denounce the action it had already failed.]
1820 - The Cato Street Conspiracy - a plot to murder all of Britain's cabinet ministers - was exposed.
1836 - The Siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas.
1861 - US President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington, DC, having evaded an assassination attempt in Baltimore.
1870 - Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, was sworn into the Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in either house of the US Congress.
1898 - Émile Zola was imprisoned in France after writing J'accuse, a letter accusing the French government of anti-Semitism and wrongfully imprisoning Captain Alfred Dreyfus.
1903 - Cuba leased Guantánamo Bay to the United States 'in perpetuity'.
1905 - Chicago attorney Paul Harris and three other businessmen met for lunch to form the Rotary Club, the world's first service club.
1909 - The AEA Silver Dart made the first powered flight in Canada and thus the British Empire.
1917 - The first of an ongoing series of demonstrations in Saint Petersburg marked the beginning of Russia's February Revolution.
1918 - The Red Army's first victory over the forces of Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II near Narva and Pskov was celebrated from 1923 onward as 'Red Army Day'; it was renamed Defender of the Fatherland Day after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and is colloquially known as 'Men's Day'.
1927 - The Federal Radio Commission (later renamed the Federal Communications Commission) began to regulate the use of radio frequencies in the United States.
1934 - Léopold III became King of the Belgians following the death of his father Albert I.
1941 - Plutonium was first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.
1947 - The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was founded.
1981 - Antonio Tejero - leader of the Tejerazo - attempted a coup d'état now known as 23-F by capturing the Spanish Congress of Deputies; the abortive revolution had been mostly put down by the time King Juan Carlos I appeared on television at 1:14 AM the next day to denounce the action.
1983 - The Spanish Socialist government of Felipe González and Miguel Boyer nationalized Rumasa, a holding company founded by entrepreneur José María Ruiz Mateos.
1991 - Thailand's General Sunthorn Kongsompong led a bloodless coup d'état, deposing Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan.
1997 - A fire broke out onboard the space station Mir.
1999 - An avalanche destroyed the Austrian village of Galtür, killing 31.
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