February 17 is the 48th day of the year. There are 318 days remaining until the end of the year.
- 1621 – Myles Standish was appointed as first commander of Plymouth Colony.
- 1801 – An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr was resolved when Jefferson was elected, by the United States House of Representatives, President of the United States and Burr became Vice President.
- 1864 – The H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.
- 1904 – Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini premièred at Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Opera House) in Milan, Italy.
- 1933 – Newsweek magazine was published for the first time.
- 1933 – The Blaine Act ended Prohibition in the United States.
- 1968 – In Springfield, Massachusetts, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame opened.
- 1972 – Sales of the Volkswagen Beetle exceeded those of the Ford Model-T.