1642 – Astronomer Galileo Galilei died in Arcetri, Italy.
1675 – The first corporation was chartered in the United States. The company was the New York Fishing Company.
1790 – In the United States, George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address.
1815 – The Battle of New Orleans began. The War of 1812 had officially ended on December 24, 1814, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. The news of the signing had not reached British troops in time to prevent their attack on New Orleans.
1838 – Alfred Vail demonstrated a telegraph code he had devised using dots and dashes as letters. The code was the predecessor to Samuel Morse’s code.
1853 – A bronze statue of Andrew Jackson on a horse was unveiled in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC. The statue was the work of Clark Mills.
1856 – Borax (hydrated sodium borate) was discovered by Dr. John Veatch.
1886 – The Severn Railway Tunnel, Britain’s longest, was opened.
1889 – The tabulating machine was patented by Dr. Herman Hollerith. His firm, Tabulating Machine Company, later became International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
1894 – Fire caused serious damage at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL.
1900 – U.S. President McKinley placed Alaska under military rule.
1900 – In South Africa, General White turned back the Boers attack of Ladysmith.
1901 – The first tournament sanctioned by the American Bowling Congress was held in Chicago, IL.
1908 – A catastrophic train collision occurred in the smoke-filled Park Avenue Tunnel in New York City. Seventeen were killed and thirty-eight were injured. The accident caused a public outcry and increased demand for electric trains.
1916 – During World War I, the final withdrawal of Allied troops from Gallipoli took place.
1918 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson announced his Fourteen Points as the basis for peace upon the end of World War I.
1921 – David Lloyd George became the first prime minister tenant at Chequers Court, Buckinghamshire.
1929 – William S. Paley appeared on CBS Radio for the first time to announce that CBS had become the largest regular chain of broadcasting chains in radio history.
1935 – The spectrophotometer was patented by A.C. Hardy.
1952 – Marie Wilson came to TV as “My Friend Irma”.
1955 – After 130 home basketball wins, Georgia Tech defeated Kentucky 59-58. It was the first Kentucky loss at home since January 2, 1943.
1957 – Jackie Robinson announced his retirement from major league baseball in an article that appeared in “LOOK” magazine.
1958 – Bobby Fisher, at the age of 14, won the United States Chess Championship for the first time.
1959 – Charles De Gaulle was inaugurated as president of France’s Fifth Republic.
1960 – The NCAA met in New York and voted against reviving the unlimited substitution rule for college football.
1964 – U.S. President Lyndon Johnson declared a “War on Poverty.”
1961 – Robert Goulet made his national TV debut this night on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS.
1962 – Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was exhibited in America for the first time at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The next day the exhibit opened to the public.
1973 – Secret peace talks between the United States and North Vietnam resumed near Paris, France.
1973 – The trial opened in Washington, of seven men accused of bugging Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, DC.
1975 – Ella Grasso became the governor of Connecticut. She was the first woman to become a governor of a state without a husband preceding her in the governor’s chair.
1982 – American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) settled the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against it by agreeing to divest itself of the 22 Bell System companies.
1982 – The U.S. Justice Department withdrew an antitrust suit against IBM.
1987 – The Dow Jones industrial average closed over the 2000 mark for the first time at 2,002.25.
1992 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush collapsed during a state dinner in Tokyo. White House officials said Bush was suffering from stomach flu.
1993 – Bosnian President Izetbegovic visited the U.S. to plead his government’s case for Western military aid and intervention to halt Serbian aggression.
1994 – Tonya Harding won the ladies’ U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Detroit, MI, a day after Nancy Kerrigan dropped out because of a clubbing attack that injured her right knee. The U.S. Figure Skating Association later took the title from Harding because of her involvement in the attack.
1997 – Mister Rogers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1998 – Ramzi Yousef was sentenced to life in prison for his role of mastermind behind the World Trade Center bombing in New York.
1998 – Scientists announced that they had discovered that galaxies were accelerating and moving apart and at faster speeds.
1999 – The top two executives of Salt Lake City’s Olympic Organizing Committee resigned amid disclosures that civic boosters had given cash to members of the International Olympic Committee.
1999 – British Prime Minister Tony Blair concluded a three-day visit to South Africa.
2005 – The rate for U.S. First Class mail was raised to 39¢.
2009 – In Egypt, archeologists entered a 4,300 year old pyramid and discovered the mummy of Queen Sesheshet.