1536 – The Argentine city of Buenos Aires was founded by Pedro de Mendoza of Spain.
1653 – New Amsterdam, now known as New York City, was incorporated.
1848 – The Mexican War was ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty turned over portions of land to the U.S., including Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. The U.S. gave Mexico $15,000,000 and assumed responsibility of all claims against Mexico by American citizens. Texas had already entered the U.S. on December 29, 1845.
1848 – The first shipload of Chinese emigrants arrived in San Francisco, CA.
1863 – Samuel Langhorne Clemens used a pseudonym for the first time. He is better remembered by the pseudonym which is Mark Twain.
1870 – The “Cardiff Giant” was revealed to be nothing more than carved gypsum. The discovery in Cardiff, NY, was alleged to be the petrified remains of a human.
1876 – The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (known as the National League) was formed in New York. The teams included were the Chicago White Stockings, Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Stockings, Hartford Dark Blues, Mutual of New York, St. Louis Brown Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Louisville Grays.
1878 – Greece declared war on Turkey.
1880 – The S.S. Strathleven arrived in London with the first successful shipment of frozen mutton from Australia.
1887 – The beginning of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA.
1892 – William Painter patented the bottle cap.
1893 – The Edison Studio in West Orange, NJ, made history when they filmed the first motion picture close-up. The studio was owned and operated by Thomas Edison.
1897 – The Pennsylvania state capitol in Harrisburg was destroyed by fire. The new statehouse was dedicated nine years later on the same site.
1913 – Grand Central Terminal officially opened at 12:01 a.m. Even though construction was not entirely complete more than 150,000 people visited the new terminal on its opening day.
1935 – Leonard Keeler conducted the first test of the polygraph machine, in Portage, WI.
1943 – During World War II, the remainder of Nazi forces from the Battle of Stalingrad surrendered to the Soviets. Stalingrad has since been renamed Volgograd.
1945 – U.S. President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill left for a summit in Yalta with Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
1946 – The first Buck Rogers automatic pistol was made.
1946 – The Mutual Broadcasting System aired “Twenty Questions” for the first time on radio. The show moved to television 3 years later.
1949 – Golfer Ben Hogan was seriously injured in an auto accident in Van Horn, TX.
1950 – “What’s My Line” debuted on CBS television.
1962 – The 8th and 9th planets aligned for the first time in 400 years.
1967 – The American Basketball Association was formed by representatives of the NBA.
1971 – Idi Amin assumed power in Uganda after a coup that ousted President Milton Obote.
1980 – The situation known as “Abscam” began when reports surfaced that the FBI had conducted a sting operation that targeted members of the U.S. Congress. A phony Arab businessmen were used in the operation.
1989 – The final Russian armored column left Kabul, Afghanistan, after nine years of military occupation.
1990 – South African President F.W. de Klerk lifted a ban on the African National Congress and promised to free Nelson Mandela.
1998 – U.S. President Clinton introduced the first balanced budget in 30 years.
1999 – 19 people were killed at Luanda international airport when a cargo plane crashed just after takeoff.
1999 – Hugo Chávez Frías took office. He had been elected president of Venezuela in December 1998.
2004 – It was reported that a white powder had been found in an office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) later confirmed that the powder was the poison ricin.