28 BC – A sunspot is observed by Han dynasty astronomers during the reign of Emperor Cheng of Han, one of the earliest dated sunspot observations in China.
1497 – Amerigo Vespucci said to leave Cádiz for his first voyage to the New World.
1503 – Christopher Columbus visits the Cayman Islands and names them Las Tortugas after the numerous turtles there.
1768 – John Wilkes is imprisoned for writing an article for The North Briton severelycriticizing King George III. This action provokes rioting in London.
1773 – The Parliament of Great Britain passes the Tea Act, designed to save the British East India Company by granting it a monopoly on the North American tea trade.
1774 – Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette become King and Queen of France.
1801 – The Barbary pirates of Tripoli declare war on the United States.
1837 – Panic of 1837: New York City banks fail, and unemployment reaches record levels.
1849 – Astor Place Riot: A riot breaks out at the Astor Opera House in Manhattan, New York City over a dispute between actors Edwin Forrest and William Charles Macready, killing at least 25 and injuring more than 120.
1865 – In the American Civil War, Jefferson Davis is captured by Union troops near Irwinville, Georgia.
1869 – The First Transcontinental Railroad, linking the eastern and western United States, is completed at Promontory Summit, Utah with the golden spike.
1872 – Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman nominated for President of the United States.
1893 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Nix v. Hedden that a tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit, under the Tariff Act of 1883.
1904 – The Horch & Cir. Motorwagenwerke AG is founded. It would eventually become the Audi company.
1924 – J. Edgar Hoover is appointed first Director of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and remains so until his death in 1972.
1933 – In Germany, the Nazis stage massive public book burnings.
1940 – Winston Churchill is appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.
1941 – Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland to try to negotiate a peace deal between the United Kingdom and Nazi Germany.
1954 – Bill Haley & His Comets release Rock Around the Clock, the first rock and roll record to reach number one on the Billboard charts.
1960 – The nuclear submarine USS Triton completes the first underwater circumnavigation of the earth.
1994 – Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president.
1997 – The Maeslantkering, a storm surge barrier in the Netherlands that is one of the world’s largest moving structures, is opened by Queen Beatrix.
2002 – F.B.I. agent Robert Hanssen is sentenced to life imprisonment for selling United States secrets to Moscow for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds.
2005 – A hand grenade thrown by Vladimir Arutyunian lands about 65 feet from President George W. Bush while he is giving a speech to a crowd in Tbilisi, Georgia, but it does not detonate.
2013 – One World Trade Center becomes the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
2017 – US President Donald Trump shares classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
213 – Claudius Gothicus, Roman emperor (d. 270)
1838 – John Wilkes Booth, actor, assassin of Abraham Lincoln (d. 1865)
1899 – Fred Astaire, actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1987)
1946 – Donovan, singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor
1946 – Dave Mason, singer-songwriter and guitarist (Traffic and Fleetwood Mac)
1957 – Sid Vicious, English singer and bass player (Sex Pistols) (d. 1979)
1960 – Bono, Irish singer-songwriter, humanitarian, and activist (U2)
884 – Ahmad ibn Tulun, ruler of Egypt and Syria (b. 835)
1482 – Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, Italian mathematician and astronomer (b. 1397)
1566 – Leonhart Fuchs, German physician and botanist (b. 1501)
1774 – Louis XV of France (b. 1710)
1818 – Paul Revere, American engraver and soldier (b. 1735)
1999 – Shel Silverstein, American poet, author, and illustrator (b. 1930)
2012 – Carroll Shelby, American race car driver and designer (b. 1923)
2015 – Chris Burden, American sculptor, illustrator, and academic (b. 1946)