1454 – Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, Italy. Matthias Ringmann, a German mapmaker, named the American continent in his honor.
1617 – The Treaty of Stolbovo ended the occupation of Northern Russia by Swedish troops.
1734 – The Russians took Danzig (Gdansk) in Poland.
1745 – The first carillon was shipped from England to Boston, MA.
1793 – Jean Pierre Blanchard made the first balloon flight in North America. The event was witnessed by U.S. President George Washington.
1796 – Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais were married. They were divorced in 1809.
1812 – Swedish Pomerania was seized by Napoleon.
1820 – The U.S. Congress passed the Land Act that paved the way for westward expansion of North America.
1822 – Charles M. Graham received the first patent for artificial teeth.
1832 – Abraham Lincoln announced that he would run for a political office for the first time. He was unsuccessful in his run for a seat in the Illinois state legislature.
1839 – The French Academy of Science announced the Daguerreotype photo process.
1858 – Albert Potts was awarded a patent for the letter box.
1859 – The National Association of Baseball Players adopted the rule that limited the size of bats to no more than 2-1/2 inches in diameter.
1860 – The first Japanese ambassador to the U.S. was appointed.
1862 – During the U.S. Civil War, the ironclads Monitor and Virginia (built from the remnants of the USS Merrimack fought to a draw in a five-hour battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
1863 – General Ulysses Grant was appointed commander-in-chief of the Union forces.
1897 – A patent was issued to William Spinks and William Hoskins for cue chalk.
1900 – In Germany, women petition Reichstag for the right to take university entrance exams.
1905 – In Egypt, U.S. archeologist Davies discovered the royal tombs of Tua and Yua.
1905 – In Manchuria, Japanese troops surrounded 200,000 Russian troops that were retreating from Mudken.
1905 – In Congo, Belgian Vice Gov. Costermans committed suicide following an investigation of colonial policy.
1906 – In the Philippines, fifteen Americans and 600 Moros were killed in the last two days of fighting.
1909 – The French National Assembly passed an income tax bill.
1910 – Union men urged for a national sympathy strike for miners in Pennsylvania.
1911 – The funding for five new battleships was added to the British military defense budget.
1916 – Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico. 17 people were killed by the 1,500 horsemen.
1929 – Eric Krenz became the first athlete to toss the discus over 160 feet.
1932 – Eamon De Valera was elected president of the Irish Free State and pledged to abolish all loyalty to the British Crown.
1933 – The U.S. Congress began its 100 days of enacting New Deal legislation.
1936 – The German press warned that all Jews who vote in the upcoming elections would be arrested.
1945 – “Those Websters” debuted on CBS radio.
1945 – During World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan.
1946 – The A.F.L. accused Juan Peron of using the army to establish a dictatorship over Argentine labor.
1949 – The first all-electric dining car was placed in service on the Illinois Central Railroad.
1954 – WNBT-TV (now WNBC-TV), in New York, broadcast the first local color television commercials. The ad was Castro Decorators of New York City. (New York)
1956 – British authorities arrested and deported Archbishop Makarios from Cyprus. He was accused of supporting terrorists.
1957 – Egyptian leader Nasser barred U.N. plans to share the tolls for the use of the Suez Canal.
1959 – Mattel introduced Barbie at the annual Toy Fair in New York.
1964 – Production began on the first Ford Mustang.
1965 – The first U.S. combat troops arrived in South Vietnam.
1967 – Svetlana Alliluyeva, Josef Stalin’s daughter defected to the United States.
1969 – “The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour” was canceled by CBS-TV.
1975 – Work began on the Alaskan oil pipeline.
1975 – Iraq launched an offensive against the rebel Kurds.
1977 – About a dozen armed Hanafi Muslims invaded three buildings in Washington, DC. They killed one person and took more than 130 hostages. The siege ended two days later.
1983 – The official Soviet news agency TASS says that U.S. President Reagan is full of “bellicose lunatic anti-communism.”
1985 – “Gone With The Wind” went on sale in video stores across the U.S. for the first time.
1986 – U.S. Navy divers found the crew compartment of the space shuttle Challenger along with the remains of the astronauts.
1987 – Chrysler Corporation offered to buy American Motors Corporation.
1989 – The U.S. Senate rejected John Tower as a choice for a cabinet member. It was the first rejection in 30 years.
1989 – In Maylasia, 30 Asian nations conferred on the issue of “boat people.”
1989 – In the U.S., a strike forced Eastern Airlines into bankruptcy.
1990 – Dr. Antonia Novello was sworn in as the first female and Hispanic surgeon general.
1993 – Rodney King testified at the federal trial of four Los Angeles police officers accused of violating his civil rights. (California)
1995 – The Canadian Navy arrested a Spanish trawler for illegally fishing off of Newfoundland.
2000 – In Norway, the coalition government of Kjell Magne Bondevik resigned as a result of an environmental dispute.
2011 – Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation that abolished the death penalty in his state.