1227 – Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, is excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX for his failure to participate in the Crusades.
1717 – An earthquake strikes Antigua Guatemala, destroying much of the city’s architecture and making authorities consider moving the capital to a different city.
1789 – The United States Department of War first establishes a regular army with a strength of several hundred men.
1829 – The Metropolitan Police of London, later also known as the Met, is founded.
1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Chaffin’s Farm is fought.
At the beginning of the US Civil war, Confederate engineers and slave laborers constructed defenses around Richmond Virginia.
By 1864, they had created a system of defenses south of the capital on the James River at Chaffin’s Farm, and an open area at Chaffin’s Bluff, both named for a local landowner. This outer line was supported by an intermediate and inner system of fortifications much closer to Richmond, the capital. In July and August 1864, these lines were tested by Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in offensives designed to attack simultaneously north and south of the James River. The battle lasted two days and resulted in a Union victory with casualties of over 5,000 men killed wounded missing or captured.
1911 – Italy declares war on the Ottoman Empire.
1954 – The convention establishing CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is signed.
1960 – Nikita Khrushchev, leader of Soviet Union, disrupts a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly with a number of angry outbursts.
2004 – Close call. The asteroid 4179 Toutatis passes within four lunar distances of Earth.
2004 – The Burt Rutan Ansari X Prize entry Space Ship One performs a successful spaceflight, the first of two required to win the prize.
2008 – Following the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual, the stock market drops 777.68 points, the largest single-day point loss in its history.
106 BC – Pompey, Roman general and politician (d. 48 BC)
1547 – Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author, poet, and playwright (d. 1616)
1901 – Enrico Fermi, Italian-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
1912 – Michelangelo Antonioni, Italian director and screenwriter (d. 2007)
1923 – Stan Berenstain, American author and illustrator (d. 2005)
1935 – Jerry Lee Lewis, American singer-songwriter and pianist
1936 – Silvio Berlusconi, Italian businessman and politician, 50th Prime Minister of Italy
1942 – Jean-Luc Ponty, French violinist and composer
855 – Lothair I, Roman emperor (b. 795)
1833 – Ferdinand VII of Spain (b. 1784)
1902 – Émile Zola, French journalist, author, and playwright (b. 1840)
1910 – Winslow Homer, American painter, illustrator, and engraver (b. 1836)
He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America. Largely self-taught, he began his career working as a commercial illustrator.
He took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium.
1913 – Rudolf Diesel, German engineer, invented the diesel engine (b. 1858)
1967 – Carson McCullers, American novelist, playwright, essayist, and poet
1975 – Casey Stengel, American baseball player and manager (b. 1890)
1987 – Henry Ford II, American businessman (b. 1917)
1997 – Roy Lichtenstein, American painter and sculptor (b. 1923)
2010 – Tony Curtis, American actor (b. 1925)