Today in history: May 23

A look at some of the events which helped shape history on this day.

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1834 Sikhs capture Peshawar from British in India.

Today in History: Birthdays

Last Updated: May 23, 2010

John Churchill 1st Duke of Marlborough, English general (1650-1722)

Isadora Duncan U.S. dancer (1877-1927)

Al Jolson US singer/actor (1886-1950)

Alexander Pushkin Russian writer (1799-1837)

John Wayne US actor (1907-1979)

Hank Williams Jr US country singer (1949--)

Lenny Kravitz US rock singer (1964--)

Helena Bonham Carter British actress (1966--)

Joseph Fiennes British actor (1970--)

1854 France and Britain occupy Piraeus after declaring blockade of Greece for attempting to attack Turkey.

1865 Surrender of last Confederate troops at Shreveport, Louisiana, ends U.S. Civil War.

1868 The U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson ends with his acquittal as the Senate is one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction.

1887 British East Africa Company is chartered.

1924 U.S. President Calvin Coolidge signs bill limiting immigration into United States and completely excluding Japanese.

1940 Evacuation of British troops from France in the face of a German invasion begins at Dunkirk.

1942 German forces begin their drive for Stalingrad and the Caucasus in World War II.

1954 Funeral ship of Pharaoh Cheops is discovered in Egypt near the Pyramid of Giza.

1964 China rejects appeal by Britain to help halt fighting in Laos.

1966 British Guiana becomes independent nation of Guyana.

1977 George H. Willig scales the outside of the South Tower of New York's World Trade Center; he is arrested at the top of the 110-story building.

1978 The first legal casino in the eastern United States opens in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

1979 Israel formally returns sovereignty of Sinai capital of El Arish to Egypt after a dozen years of occupation.

1981 A Marine jet crashes onto the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off Florida, killing 14 people.

1987 Sri Lankan troops begin major offensive against Tamil separatist rebels in the northern Jaffna Peninsula.

1989 Jewish settlers raid Palestinian village in occupied West Bank, shooting at least three residents.

1990 Boris Yeltsin fails to win a majority in balloting for Russian presidency.

1991 Austrian airliner bound for Vienna explodes and crashes into the jungle in Thailand, killing all 223 people on board.

1992 Russia's Constitutional Court orders Mikhail Gorbachev, or a stand-in, to represent the Communist Party on its right to exist.

1993 The Supreme Court restores Pakistan's ousted government, dealing a blow to Benazir Bhutto's dreams of a political comeback.

1994 U.S. President Bill Clinton renews trade privileges for China, and announces his administration would no longer link China's trade status with its human rights record.

1995 North Korea acknowledges that it suffers from a grave food shortage, and pleads with Japan for emergency rice aid.

1996 Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi opens a meeting of opposition activists in Yangon, Myanmar, in defiance of the military government, which arrests scores of people.

1997 A week after sweeping into the city, President Laurent Kabila bans political activity and demonstrations in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo.

1998 A member of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, Ikuo Hayashi, is found guilty of murder in the nerve gas attack that killed 12 people in the Tokyo subway. He is sentenced to life in prison.

1999 Indian aircraft attack separatist guerillas in the disputed Kashmir province, marking the first use of air power in the simmering conflict in 20 years. Pakistan threatens retaliation.

2000 Police launch an investigation into one of North America's worst E. coli outbreaks as residents of a small Canadian town bury the first of five people killed so far by the bacteria.

2001 The African Union replaces the 38-year-old Organization of African Unity. The move is meant to bring political and economic integration similar to the European Union for 53 African member-nations.

2003 The World Health Organization reclassifies Toronto, Canada, as an area with recent local transmissions of SARS after Canadian health officials inform the WHO of eight new probable cases of the virus.

2005 President George W. Bush embraces Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a courageous democratic reformer and bolsters his standing at home with $50 million in assistance to improve the quality of life in Gaza.

2006 A Russian regional Supreme Court convicts Nur-Pashi Kulayev for 331 deaths in the Beslan school massacre in the southern province of North Ossetia and sentences him to life in prison. Kulayev was the only known surviving attacker.

2007 Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern's long-dominant party, Fianna Fail, celebrates its sixth straight election win.

2008 Ethiopia's Supreme Court sentences an exiled former president — dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam — and 18 officials to death for the thousands of people murdered during Mengistu's 17-year rule.

2009 President Barack Obama chooses federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

2010 Jamaican security forces claim a tenuous hold over the slum stronghold of an at large gang leader sought by the U.S., but only after nearly three days of street battles that killed at least 44 civilians.