202 BC – Liu Bang is enthroned as the Emperor of China, beginning four centuries of rule by the Han dynasty.
1784 – John Wesley charters the Methodist Church.
1827 – The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad is incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight.
1849 – Regular steamboat service from the west to the east coast of the United States begins with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, four months 22 days after leaving New York Harbor.
1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.
1942 – The heavy cruiser USS Houston is sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait with 693 crew members killed, along with HMAS Perth which lost 375 men.
1953 – James Watson and Francis Crick announce to friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. At that time Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, both working at King’s College, London, were using X-ray diffraction to study DNA.
1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with almost 106 million viewers.
1986 – Olof Palme, 26th Prime Minister of Sweden, is assassinated in Stockholm.
1993 – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raid the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group’s leader David Koresh. Four ATF agents and six Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.
2013 – Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since Pope Gregory XII, in 1415.
1901 – Linus Pauling, American chemist and activist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994)
1903 – Vincente Minnelli, American director and screenwriter (d. 1986)
1906 – Bugsy Siegel, American gangster (d. 1947)
1929 – Frank Gehry, Canadian-American architect, designed 8 Spruce Street and Walt Disney Concert Hall
1940 – Mario Andretti, Italian-American race car driver
628 – Khosrow II, king of the Persian Empire
1967 – Henry Luce, Chinese-American publisher, co-founded Time Magazine (b. 1898)
This list is compiled from many internet and other sources of information including wikipedia, the New York Times, a multitude of websites and old books.