536 – Gothic War: The Byzantine general Belisarius enters Rome unopposed; the Gothic garrison flee the capital.
1775 – American Revolutionary War: British troops lose the Battle of Great Bridge, and leave Virginia soon afterward.
1793 – New York City’s first daily newspaper, the American Minerva, is established by Noah Webster.
1856 – The Iranian city of Bushehr surrenders to occupying British forces.
1905 – In France, the law separating church and state is passed.
1935 – Walter Liggett, American newspaper editor and muckraker, is killed in a gangland murder.
1935 – The Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, later renamed the Heisman Trophy, is awarded for the first time. The winner is halfback Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago.
1946 – The “Subsequent Nuremberg trials” begin with the “Doctors’ trial”, prosecuting physicians and officers alleged to be involved in Nazi human experimentation and mass murder under the guise of euthanasia.
1950 – Cold War: Harry Gold is sentenced to 30 years in jail for helping Klaus Fuchs pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union. His testimony is later instrumental in the prosecution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
1953 – Red Scare: General Electric announces that all communist employees will be discharged from the company.
1958 – The John Birch Society is founded in the United States.
1965 – A Charlie Brown Christmas, first in a series of Peanuts television specials, debuts on CBS.
1968 – Douglas Engelbart gave what became known as “The Mother of All Demos”, publicly debuting the computer mouse, hypertext, and the bit-mapped graphical user interface using the oN-Line System (NLS).
1979 – The eradication of the smallpox virus is certified, making smallpox the first and to date only human disease driven to extinction.
2008 – The Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is arrested by federal officials for crimes including attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
1508 – Gemma Frisius, Dutch mathematician and cartographer (d. 1555)
1571 – Metius, Dutch mathematician and astronomer (d. 1635)
1608 – John Milton, English poet and philosopher (d. 1674)
1779 – Tabitha Babbitt, American tool maker and inventor (d. ca. 1853)
1898 – Emmett Kelly, American clown and actor (d. 1979)
1906 – Grace Hopper, American admiral and computer scientist, designed COBOL (d. 1992)
1930 – Buck Henry, American actor, director, and screenwriter
1934 – Judi Dench, English actress
1942 – Joe McGinniss, American journalist and author (d. 2014)
1966 – Kirsten Gillibrand, American lawyer and politician
1565 – Pope Pius IV (b. 1499)
1830 – Heinrich Christian Friedrich Schumacher, Danish surgeon, botanist, and academic (b. 1757)
1982 – Leon Jaworski, American lawyer and politician (b. 1905)
1991 – Berenice Abbott, née Bernice Abbott, was an American photographer best known for her black-and-white, scientific photography of New York City architecture and urban design of the 1930s (b. 1898)
1996 – Mary Leakey, the British paleoanthropologist who discovered the first fossilised Proconsul skull, an extinct ape now believed to be ancestral to humans (b. 1913)