1238 – The Mongols burn the Russian city of Vladimir.
1250 – Seventh Crusade: Crusaders engage Ayyubid forces in the Battle of Al Mansurah.
1575 – Leiden University is founded, and given the motto Praesidium Libertatis Protection of Freedom
1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is executed on suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
1693 – The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II.
1837 – Richard Mentor Johnson was the only Vice President elected by the United States Senate under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment. He served as Martin Van Buren’s Vice President.
Previously, he represented Kentucky in the House of Representatives and Senate. At that time he was affiliated with Henry Clay’s faction that favored war with Britain in 1812. He served under William Henry Harrison and participated in the Battle of the Thames. There are some reports he personally killed the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, which he later used to his political advantage.
In 1836, Johnson was the Democratic nominee for vice-president on a ticket with Martin Van Buren, campaigning with the slogan “Rumpsey Dumpsey, Rumpsey Dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh”. He fell one vote short needed to secure his election. Virginia’s delegation to the Electoral College protested the state’s popular vote and refused to endorse Johnson, abstaining instead. However, he was elected to the office by the Senate.
Johnson proved such a liability for the Democrats in the 1836 election that they refused to renominate him for vice-president in 1840.
He stayed in politics afterward and was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1850, but died just two weeks into his term on November 19, 1850.
1865 – Delaware refuses to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Slavery remains technically legal in Delaware until February 12, 1901.
1887 – The Dawes Act authorizes the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land and divide it into individual allotments.
1915 – D. W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation premieres in Los Angeles.
1950 – The Stasi, the secret police of East Germany, is established.
1952 – Elizabeth II is proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom.
1963 – Travel, financial and commercial transactions by US citizens to Cuba are made illegal by the Kennedy administration.
1971 – The NASDAQ stock market index opens for the first time.
1974 – After 84 days in space, the crew of Skylab 4, the last crew to visit American space station Skylab, returns to Earth.
1993 – General Motors sues NBC after Dateline NBC rigs two crashes intended to demonstrate that some GM pickups can easily catch fire if hit in certain places. NBC settles the lawsuit the next day.
2013 – A blizzard disrupts transportation and leaves hundreds of thousands of people without electricity in the Northeastern United States and parts of Canada.
120 – Vettius Valens, Greek astronomer, mathematician, astrologer (d. 175)
1552 – Agrippa d’Aubigné, French poet and soldier (d. 1630)
1577 – Robert Burton, English priest, physician, and scholar (d. 1640)
1700 – Daniel Bernoulli, Dutch-Swiss mathematician and physicist (d. 1782)
1828 – Jules Verne, French author, poet, and playwright (d. 1905)
1850 – Kate Chopin, American author (d. 1904)
1906 – Chester Carlson, physicist and lawyer, invented Xerography (d. 1968)
Xerography: a dry copying process in which black or colored powder adheres to parts of a surface remaining electrically charged after being exposed to light from an image of the document to be copied.
1925 – Jack Lemmon, American actor (d. 2001)
1931 – James Dean, American actor (d. 1955)
1940 – Ted Koppel, English-American journalist
1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots (b. 1542)
1725 – Peter the Great, Russian emperor (b. 1672)
1957 – John von Neumann, Hungarian-American mathematician and physicist (b. 1903)
1990 – Del Shannon, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1934)
1999 – Iris Murdoch, Irish-born British novelist and philosopher (b. 1919)
2010 – John Murtha, American colonel and politician (b. 1932)
Edited from various sources including historyorb.com, the NYTimes.com and Google searches