1640 – John IV was declared King of Portugal, resulting in the Portuguese Restoration War with Spain.
1822 – Pedro I was crowned the first Emperor of Brazil, less than two months after he actually began his reign on October 12.
1913 – The world's first moving assembly line was installed in Highland Park, Michigan for the mass production of automobiles.
1925 – The Locarno Treaties were formally signed in London, establishing post-World War I territorial settlements.
1934 – Soviet Communist Party member Leonid Nikolaev assassinated Politburo member Sergey Kirov at his office in the Smolny in Leningrad.
1941 – The Civil Air Patrol, the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force, was founded.
1955 – African-American Civil Rights Movement: Seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested for violating the racial segregation laws of Montgomery, Alabama, after refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, precipitating the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
1958 – The colony of Ubangi-Shari became an autonomous territory within the French Community and took the name Central African Republic.
1958 – A fire in the Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago killed 92 students and three nuns.
1959 – Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty, the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War, banning military activity in Antarctica and setting the continent aside as a scientific preserve.
1990 – Channel Tunnel workers from the United Kingdom and France met 40 metres beneath the English Channel seabed.
1409 – The University of Leipzig in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany, one of the oldest universities in Europe, was established.
1804 – The Crown of Charlemagne was used at the coronation of Napoleon I of France at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
1805 – Napoleonic Wars: French forces led by Emperor Napoleon I decisively defeated a Russo-Austrian army commanded by Czar Alexander I in the Battle of Austerlitz.
1823 – U.S. President James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine, a proclamation of opposition to European colonialism in the New World.
1848 – Franz Joseph became Emperor of Austria.
1908 – Two-year-old Puyi became Emperor of China, the last one before the Republic of China was declared in 1912.
1920 – The Treaty of Alexandropol, a peace treaty between the Democratic Republic of Armenia and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey ending the Turkish-Armenian War, was signed before the declaration of the Republic of Turkey.
1942 – The Manhattan Project: Scientists led by Enrico Fermi initiated the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in the experimental nuclear reactor Chicago Pile-1.
1956 – Cuban Revolution: The yacht Granma, carrying Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and 80 other members of the 26th of July Movement, reached the shores of Cuba.
1971 – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaiwain merged to form the United Arab Emirates.
1972 – The Australian Labour Party led by Gough Whitlam won the Australian federal election after 23 years of Liberal–Country Party government.
1975 – The Pathet Lao overthrew the royalist government in Vientiane, forcing King Savang Vatthana to abdicate, and established the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
1988 – Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister of Pakistan, the first woman to head the government of an Islam-dominated state.
1800 – War of the Second Coalition: French forces under General Jean Moreau defeated the Austrians and Bavarians under Archduke John in Hohenlinden, near Munich, forcing the Austrians to sign an armistice.
1854 – At least 22 people were killed and 35 others were injured when rebelling miners at the Eureka Stockade clashed violently with the police and the military in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
1904 – Himalia, the largest irregular satellite of Jupiter, was discovered by astronomer Charles Dillon Perrine at the Lick Observatory in San Jose, California, USA.
1919 – The Quebec Bridge, linking Quebec City and Lévis, Quebec, Canada, opened to traffic, becoming the longest cantilever bridge span in the world to date.
1937 – Issue 1 of The Dandy, the world's longest running comic, went on sale.
1944 – The Greek Civil War broke out between communists and royalists in a newly liberated Greece.
1959 – The current flag of Singapore was adopted, six months after Singapore became self-governing within the British Empire.
1967 – Cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful human heart transplant on Louis Washkansky at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.
1971 – The formal initiation of hostilities of the Indo-Pakistani War began with the Pakistani Air Force launching pre-emptive airstrikes on several forward airbases and radar installations of the Indian Air Force.
1984 – Bhopal gas disaster: The accidental release of methyl isocyanate over Bhopal, India, resulted in at least 20,000 total deaths and affected over 120,000 others in one of the world's worst industrial disasters.
1999 – NASA lost contact with the Mars Polar Lander moments before it reached the atmosphere of Mars and disappeared.
1639 – English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks made the first observation of a transit of Venus.
1676 – Scanian War: Forces led by Swedish Field Marshal Simon Grundel-Helmfelt defeated the invading army of Denmark–Norway under the command of King Christian V in an area north of Lund, Sweden.
1791 – Britain's The Observer, the world's first Sunday newspaper, was first published.
1829 – The practice of sati was formally abolished in British India after years of campaigning by Ram Mohan Roy against the Hindu funeral custom of widows immolating themselves.
1872 – The British ship Dei Gratia found the unmanned and under full sail American brigantine Mary Celeste. To this day, it is often described as the archetypal ghost ship, and the fate of its crew and passengers has been the subject of much speculation.
1909 – The Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club, the oldest professional hockey franchise in the world, was founded as a charter member of the National Hockey Association.
1954 – The global hamburger fast food chain Burger King, known for its signature item the Whopper, was founded near Miami.
1956 – The Million Dollar Quartet: Singers Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley recorded an impromptu jam session in the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
1977 – Jean-Bédel Bokassa, the President of the Central African Republic, had himself crowned as Emperor Bokassa I.
1991 – Journalist Terry Anderson, the last and longest-held American hostage in Lebanon, was released after seven years in captivity.
1991 – Pan American World Airways, which was the principal international airline of the United States and which was credited with many innovations, ended operations.
1992 – Operation Restore Hope: One day after the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 794, U.S. President George H. W. Bush ordered American troops into Somalia to help provide humanitarian aid and restore order after the dissolution of the country's central government during the ongoing Somali Civil War.
1484 – Pope Innocent VIII issued the papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus, giving Dominican Inquisitor Heinrich Kramer explicit authority to prosecute witchcraft in Germany.
1492 – Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
1590 – Niccolò Sfondrati became Pope Gregory XIV, succeeding Pope Urban VII who died two months earlier.
1757 – Seven Years' War: Prussian forces under Frederick the Great defeated Austrian forces under Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine at the Battle of Leuthen in Leuthen, present-day Poland.
1766 – In London, James Christie founded what is today the world's leading art business and fine arts auction house.
1776 – The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest academic honour society in the United States, and the first collegiate organisation to adopt a Greek-letter name, was founded at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
1791 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died without completing his Requiem mass in D minor.
1933 – Prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States officially ended when the Twenty-first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment.
1936 – The 1936 Soviet Constitution, also known as the "Stalin" constitution, was adopted.
1939 – The remains of Pedro II of Brazil, who was ousted and exiled in a republican coup, were buried after being repatriated.
1945 – Flight 19, a squadron of five Avenger TBM torpedo bombers of the U.S. Navy, disappeared in the area now known as the Bermuda Triangle.
1958 – Subscriber trunk dialling was inaugurated in the United Kingdom by Queen Elizabeth II when she dialled a phone call from Bristol to Edinburgh.
1974 – The Birmingham Americans won the only World Bowl in World Football League history.
2005 – The Civil Partnership Act came into force, granting civil partnerships in the United Kingdom with rights and responsibilities identical to civil marriage.
1534 – Over 200 Spanish settlers led by conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar founded what is now Quito, Ecuador.
1768 – The first weekly instalment of the first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was released in Edinburgh, Scotland.
1865 – Slavery in the United States was officially abolished when the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.
1917 – A ship in Halifax Harbour carrying trinitrotoluene (TNT) and picric acid caught fire after a collision with another ship and exploded, devastating Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
1921 – The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed and then came into force exactly one year to the day later, establishing the Irish Free State, the first independent Irish state to be recognised by the British government.
1956 – In a contest that became known as the the "Blood in the Water match" at the Melbourne Olympics, the Hungarian water polo team defeated the USSR, 4–0, against the background of the Hungarian Revolution.
1956 – Aged 14, swimmer Sandra Morgan became the youngest Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.
1957 – Project Vanguard: An attempt to launch the first American satellite failed with an explosion on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
1988 – The Australian Capital Territory was granted self-government.
1989 – Claiming that he was "fighting feminism", 25-year-old Marc Lépine embarked on a massacre, killing fourteen women, and wounding ten other women and four men, before committing suicide at École Polytechnique in Montreal.
1992 – The Babri Mosque in Ayodhya was destroyed by members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and associated groups, believing it was built on the birthplace of Rama.
2005 – Members of the People's Armed Police shot and killed several people during protests in Dongzhou, a village in Shanwei prefecture-level city, Guangdong Province, China, that was organised in opposition to government plans to build a new power plant.
43 BC – Cicero, widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists, was assassinated.
1724 – In Torun, Royal Prussia, Polish authorities executed the city's mayor and nine other Lutheran officials following tensions between Protestants and Catholics.
1787 – Delaware became the first U.S. state to ratify the United States Constitution.
1815 – Michel Ney, Marshal of France, was executed by a firing squad near Paris' Jardin du Luxembourg for supporting Napoleon Bonaparte.
1936 – Australian cricketer Jack Fingleton became the first player to score centuries in four consecutive Test innings.
1941 – World War II: The Imperial Japanese Navy made its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, intending to neutralise the United States Pacific Fleet from influencing the war Japan was planning to wage in Southeast Asia.
1949 – Chinese Civil War: The government of the Republic of China relocated from Mainland China to Taipei on the island of Taiwan.
1965 – East-West Schism: Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople and Pope Paul VI issued the Catholic–Orthodox joint declaration and simultaneously lifted mutual excommunications that had been in place since 1054.
1972 – The crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft took the photograph "The Blue Marble", the first clear image of an illuminated face of Earth, on their way to the Moon.
1988 – An earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.9 struck the Spitak region of Armenia, then part of the Soviet Union, killing at least 25,000 people.
1993 – Passenger Colin Ferguson murdered six people and injured nineteen others on the Long Island Rail Road in Garden City, New York.
1995 – The Galileo spacecraft arrived at Jupiter, a little more than six years after it was launched by Space Shuttle Atlantis during Mission STS-34.
1609 – Milan's Biblioteca Ambrosiana opened its reading room to the public, becoming the second public library in Europe.
1854 – In his Apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogmatic definition of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was born free of original sin.
1941 – World War II: Takashi Sakai and the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Hong Kong and quickly achieved air superiority by bombing Kai Tak Airport.
1941 – The Holocaust: The Chelmno extermination camp in occupied Poland, the first such Nazi camp to kill the Jews of the Ghetto Litzmannstadt and the Warthegau by poison gas, began operating.
1963 – After being hit by a lightning strike while in a holding pattern, Pan Am Flight 214 crashed near Elkton, Maryland, USA, killing all 81 people on board.
1980 – Former Beatle John Lennon was assassinated in the entrance archway of the Dakota apartments in New York City.
1987 – Arab-Israeli conflict: An Israeli army tank transporter killed four Palestinian refugees and injured seven others during a traffic accident at the Erez Crossing on the Israel–Gaza Strip border, sparking the First Intifada.
1991 – Leaders of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine signed the Belavezha Accords, agreeing to dissolve the Soviet Union and establish the Commonwealth of Independent States.
1993 – Leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States signed the final agreements of the North American Free Trade Agreement, forming a regional trade bloc.
1998 – The Australian Cricket Board's cover-up of Shane Warne and Mark Waugh's involvement with bookmakers was revealed.
2004 – Twelve South American countries signed the Cusco Declaration, announcing the foundation of what is now the Union of South American Nations, an intergovernmental union modelled after the European Union.
1425 – Pope Martin V issued a papal bull establishing what later became the Catholic University of Leuven, the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium.
1824 – Patriot forces led by General Antonio José de Sucre defeated a Royalist army in the Battle of Ayacucho, putting an end to the Peruvian War of Independence.
1856 – Anglo-Persian War: Bushehr, a city on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf in present-day Iran, surrendered to occupying British forces.
1897 – Stage actress, journalist and leading suffragette Marguerite Durand founded the feminist newspaper La Fronde.
1905 – Legislation establishing state secularism in France was passed by the Chamber of Deputies of France, triggering civil disobedience by French Catholics.
1922 – Gabriel Narutowicz was elected as the first President of Poland by the Polish parliament.
1946 – The Doctors' Trial, the first of the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, began to prosecute doctors who were allegedly involved in Nazi human experimentation during World War II.
1958 – The John Birch Society was founded to fight the perceived threat of communism in the United States.
1960 – Coronation Street, the longest-running television soap opera in the United Kingdom, was first broadcast on ITV.
1961 – Tanganyika gained independence from Britain before becoming part of Tanzania three years later.
1968 – The NLS, a computer collaboration system that was the first to employ the practical use of hypertext, the computer mouse, and other modern computing concepts, was publicly demonstrated for the first time in San Francisco.
1979 – A World Health Organisation commission of eminent scientists certified the global eradication of smallpox, making it the only human infectious disease to date to have been completely eradicated from nature.
1990 – Lech Walesa became the first person elected President of Poland in a direct presidential election after the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe.
2008 – Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich was arrested for a number of corruption crimes, including attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat that was being vacated by then-U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
1508 – The Papal States, France, Aragon and the Holy Roman Empire formed the League of Cambrai, an alliance against the Republic of Venice.
1520 – In response to Pope Leo X's papal bull Exsurge Domine demanding that he retract 41 errors drawn from his 95 theses and subsequent writings, Martin Luther burned his copy of the bull outside Elster Gate in Wittenberg.
1868 – The first traffic lights were installed outside the Houses of Parliament in London, resembling railway signals with semaphore arms and red and green gas lamps for night use.
1898 – The French lorcha L'Esperance was sunk by the force of Nguyen Trung Truc, an anti-colonial guerrilla leader in southern Vietnam.
1898 – The Spanish–American War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, with Spain recognising the independence of Cuba; and ceding Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico to the United States.
1901 – The first Nobel Prizes were awarded, on the anniversary of the 1896 death of their founder, Swedish chemist and industrialist Alfred Nobel.
1907 – During the Brown Dog affair, about 1,000 protesters marched through London and then clashed with 400 police officers in Trafalgar Square over the existence of a memorial for animals which have been vivisected.
1941 – World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo bombers sank the Royal Navy capital ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse east of Malaya.
1948 – The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, representing the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.
1968 – Japan's biggest heist, the still-unsolved "300 million yen robbery", occurred in Tokyo.
1282 – Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last independent Prince of Wales to rule in Wales, was killed in an ambush.
1789 – The North Carolina General Assembly chartered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, currently the oldest public university in the United States and the only one to award degrees in the 18th century.
1886 – Dial Square, a football club from Woolwich, London that would eventually become known as Arsenal F.C., played their first match, winning 6–0 against Eastern Wanderers on an open field in the Isle of Dogs.
1905 – In a sign of support for the December Uprising in Moscow, the Council of Workers' Deputies of Kiev decided to stage a mass uprising, establishing the Shuliavka Republic in the city.
1931 – The British Parliament enacted the Statute of Westminster, giving the option of complete legislative independence to the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
1936 – Facing increased opposition to his plans to marry twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson, Edward VIIIabdicated the throne, becoming the first British monarch to voluntarily do so since the Anglo-Saxon period.
1946 – The United Nations General Assembly created UNICEF, originally to help provide emergency food and health care to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II.
1971 – The Libertarian Party of the United States was founded, currently one of the largest of America's alternative political parties.
1972 – Apollo 17, the last Apollo moon mission, landed on the Moon.
1980 – The United States Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act to protect people, families, communities and others from heavily contaminated toxic waste sites that had been abandoned.
1981 – About 900 civilians in El Salvador were killed in the El Mozote massacre.
1994 – First Chechen War: Russian forces entered into the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya to control the secessionist movement.
2005 – A series of explosions, described as the biggest of its kind in peacetime Europe, rocked the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England.
2006 – The International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust opened in Tehran "to provide an appropriate scientific atmosphere for scholars to offer their opinions in freedom about a historical issue", but was criticised worldwide as a "meeting of Holocaust deniers".
1897 – Belo Horizonte, the first planned city of Brazil, was inaugurated as Cidade de Minas.
1901 – Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic radio signal, from Poldhu Wireless Station in Cornwall, England to Signal Hill in St. John's, Newfoundland.
1915 – President Yuan Shikai of the Republic of China reinstated the monarchy and declared himself Emperor.
1918 – The Flag of Estonia was raised for the first time atop the Pikk Hermann in Tallinn.
1936 – Xi'an Incident: Chiang Kai-shek, the Generalissimo of the Republic of China, was kidnapped by Marshal Zhang Xueliang, a former warlord of Manchuria.
1937 – Japanese aircraft attacked and sunk the USS Panay while it was anchored in the Yangtze.
1941 – At a meeting with the highest ranking officials of the Nazi party in the Reich Chancellery, Adolf Hitler declared the imminent destruction of the Jewish race.
1942 – World War II: German troops began Operation Winter Storm, an attempt to relieve encircled Axis forces during the Battle of Stalingrad.
1964 – Jomo Kenyatta became the first President of the Republic of Kenya.
1985 – Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland killing 256, including 248 members of the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division.
1988 – In one of the worst railway accidents in the United Kingdom in recent times, a total of 35 people died and 500 others were injured during two collisions between three commuter trains near the Clapham Junction railway station in London.
2000 – The U.S. Supreme Court delivered its controversial 5–4 decision in Bush v. Gore, ordering the election recount of the ballots cast in Florida for the 2000 presidential election to stop, which effectively ended the election in favor of George W. Bush.
1545 – Counter-Reformation: The Council of Trent, an ecumenical council convoked by Pope Paul III in response to the growth of Protestantism, opened in Trento, Italy.
1769 – Dartmouth College in present-day Hanover, New Hampshire, USA was established by a Royal Charter from British King George III and became the last university founded in the Thirteen Colonies before the American Revolution.
1862 – American Civil War: Union forces under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside suffered severe casualties against entrenched Confederate defenders at the Battle of Fredericksburg in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
1937 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Japanese forces captured Nanjing in China and then began to commit numerous atrocities over the next several weeks, such as looting, rape and the execution of prisoners of war and civilians.
1939 – World War II: The Royal Navy cruisers HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax and HMNZS Achilles defeated the German Deutschland class cruiser Admiral Graf Spee off the estuary of the River Plate off the coast of Argentina and Uruguay.
1981 – Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in Poland, suspended Solidarity and imprisoned many union leaders.
2003 – Post-invasion Iraq: During Operation Red Dawn, American forces found former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein hiding in a spider hole and captured him.
2006 – The Baiji, a freshwater dolphin found only in the Yangtze River in China, was announced as functionally extinct by leaders of the scientific expedition known as the Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Expedition.
1819 – Alabama was admitted as the 22nd U.S. state, after the statehood of present-day Northern Alabama was delayed for several years by the lack of a coastline until Mobile was captured from Spain during the War of 1812.
1836 – The Toledo War, the mostly bloodless boundary dispute between the U.S. state of Ohio and the adjoining Territory of Michigan, unofficially ended with a resolution passed by the controversial "Frostbitten Convention."
1896 – Glasgow Subway, the third oldest below-ground metro system in the world after the London Underground and the Budapest Metro, began operations in Glasgow, Scotland.
1900 – German physicist Max Planck presented a theoretical derivation of his black-body radiation law, suggesting that electromagnetic energy could only be emitted in quantised form.
1911 – Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team became the first people to reach the South Pole.
1913 – Haruna, the fourth and last ship of the Kongo, was launched, eventually becoming one of the Japanese workhorses during World War I and World War II.
1918 – Frederick Charles, King of Finland, renounced the throne after criticism of his German nationality in the aftermath of World War I.
1960 – Ian Meckiff of Australia was run out by the West Indies, causing the first Tied Test in the history of cricket.
1962 – NASA's Mariner 2 became the world's first spacecraft to successfully fly by Venus.
1972 – Upon completing the third extra-vehicular activity of Apollo 17, American astronaut Eugene Cernan became the last person to date to walk on the moon.
1989 – Chile held its first free election in 16 years and elected Patricio Aylwin as the new President of the Republic.
1995 – The Dayton Agreement was signed in Paris to end the Bosnian War, establishing, among others, a new structure of government and political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2004 – The Millau Viaduct spanning the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in France, the tallest vehicular bridge in the world at 343 metres (1,125 ft), opened.
2008 – During a press conference in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi infamously threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush, yelling that "this is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in the Iraq War.
533 – Forces led by Belisarius defeated Gelimer and the Vandals at the Battle of Tricamarum, completing the "Reconquest of North Africa" under Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
1167 – Stephen du Perche, Chancellor of Sicily, moved the royal court to Messina to prevent a rebellion.
1256 – The Hashshashin stronghold at Alamut in present-day Iran was captured and destroyed by Hulagu Khan and the Mongols.
1467 – Troops under Stephen III of Moldavia defeated the forces of Matthias Corvinus of Hungary in present-day Baia, Romania.
1791 – The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, collectively known as the United States Bill of Rights, were ratified.
1864 – American Civil War: Union troops essentially destroyed the Army of Tennessee, one of the largest Confederate forces, at the Battle of Nashville.
1868 – Tokugawa Shogunate forces led by Enomoto Takeaki founded the Republic of Ezo in Hokkaido, Japan's second largest island.
1906 – The Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway, a 14.17 kilometres deep-level underground tube railway connecting Hammersmith and Finsbury Park in London, opened.
1942 – World War II: The Americans engaged Imperial Japanese forces at the Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse in the hills near the Matanikau River area on Guadalcanal during the Guadalcanal Campaign.
1961 – Former Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death after being found guilty on fifteen criminal charges, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
1964 – The six-month long Canadian Great Flag Debate effectively ended when the Canadian House of Commons voted to replace the de facto national flag of Canada, the Canadian Red Ensign, with an official one designed by historian George Stanley, the Maple Leaf Flag.
1965 – The first space rendezvous took place when NASA spacecraft Gemini 6A maneuvered within 30 centimeters (12 inches) of Gemini 7.
1994 – The web browser Netscape Navigator 1.0 was first released.
1995 – The European Court of Justice handed down the Bosman ruling, allowing footballers in the European Union to freely transfer from one UEFA Federation to another at the end of their contracts.
2005 – The F-22 Raptor, a Stealth fighter aircraft that the United States Air Force claimed is unmatched by any known or projected fighter, entered into service despite a protracted and costly development period.
1598 – Admiral Yi Sun-sin's Korean navy defeated the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Noryang, the final naval battle of the Imjin War.
1653 – The Protectorate: Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England.
1773 – Boston Tea Party: To prevent the unloading of tea that was taxed without their consent under the Tea Act, a group of colonists destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbour.
1838 – Great Trek: Over 450 Voortrekkers led by Andries Pretorius defeated an estimated 10,000 Zulu at the Battle of Blood River in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
1850 – The Canterbury Pilgrims aboard Randolph and Charlotte-Jane arrived to settle Christchurch, New Zealand.
1893 – Czech composer Antonín Dvorák's New World Symphony premiered at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
1944 – World War II: The Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany launched its final offensive in the western front, the Battle of the Bulge.
1960 – United Airlines Flight 826 and Trans World Airlines Flight 266 collided in mid-air in heavy clouds over Staten Island, New York City, killing 134 people.
1971 – Pakistani forces in East Pakistan surrendered, ending both the Indo-Pakistani War and the Bangladesh Liberation War.
1989 – The Romanian Revolution began as a protest in the city of Timisoara against an attempt by the government to evict dissident priest László Tokés. Rioting ensued.
1998 – The United States and United Kingdom launched a major four-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets in response to Iraq's failure to comply with several U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as their interference with U.N. Special Commission inspectors.
920 – Romanos I became co-Byzantine Emperor with the underage Constantine VII.
1583 – Cologne War: Forces under Ernest of Bavaria defeated the troops under Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg at the Siege of Godesberg.
1819 – The Republic of Gran Colombia in South America was established, with Simón Bolívar as its first president.
1862 – American Civil War: Union General Ulysses S. Grant issued General Order No. 11, expelling Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.
1903 – In Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA, Orville and Wilbur Wright aboard the Wright Flyer conducted the first successful flight of a powered fixed-wing aircraft.
1918 – Protesting government policies concerning political representation, unemployment and taxation, about 1,000 demonstrators marched on Government House in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, where they burnt an effigy of the Administrator of the Northern Territory John Gilruth and demanded his resignation.
1944 – Nazi German troops under Joachim Peiper killed unarmed prisoners of war, captured during the Battle of the Bulge, with machine guns near Malmedy, Belgium.
1969 – The United States Air Force closed Project Blue Book, its study on unidentified flying objects, stating that further funding "cannot be justified either on the grounds of national security or in the interest of science."
1970 – Soldiers fired at workers emerging from trains in Gdynia, Poland, beginning the government's brutal crackdown on mass anti-communist protests across the country.
1983 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army detonated a car bomb just outside Harrods Department Store in London, UK, killing six people and injuring about 90 others.
1989 – The Simpsons, currently the longest running American prime time entertainment series, made its debut on the Fox television network with the episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".
1271 – Mongol ruler Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in present-day Mongolia and China.
1892 – The first performance of the fairy tale-ballet The Nutcracker, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and based on the story by E. T. A. Hoffmann, was held at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
1912 – The Piltdown Man: At a meeting of the Geological Society of London, amateur British archaeologist Charles Dawson claimed that he had been given a fragment of a skull that was discovered at a gravel pit near Uckfield, East Sussex, England, which later turned out to be a forgery.
1916 – The French defeated German forces around the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in northeast France, ending the longest battle and one of the bloodiest in World War I.
1932 – Played indoors at Chicago Stadium in Chicago on a modified American football field, the Chicago Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans, 9–0, in the first ever playoff game held by the National Football League.
1966 – Epimetheus, one of the moons of Saturn, was discovered, but was mistaken as Janus. It took 12 years to determine that they are two distinct objects sharing the same orbit.
1972 – Vietnam War: A few days after peace talks collapsed, the United States began Operation Linebacker II against North Vietnam, the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the U.S. Air Force since the end of World War II.
1987 – Programmer Larry Wall released the first version of the programming language Perl via the comp.sources.misc newsgroup.
1990 – The Migrant Workers Convention was signed at the United Nations enhancing the protection for migrant workers.
1996 – The school board of Oakland, California, USApassed a controversial resolution officially declaring African American Vernacular English as a separate language or dialect.
1154 – Henry II was crowned King of England in London's Westminster Abbey.
1828 – Nullification Crisis: Vice President of the United States John C. Calhoun wrote the South Carolina Exposition and Protest to protest the Tariff of 1828.
1843 – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, a novella about the miser Ebenezer Scrooge and his conversion after being visited by three Christmas ghosts, was first published.
1920 – Constantine I returned as King of the Hellenes after the death of his son Alexander I and a plebiscite.
1964 – The Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the ruling junta of South Vietnam led by Nguyen Khanh, initiated a coup, dissolving and arresting members of the High National Council, a civilian advisory body.
1972 – NASA astronauts Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt aboard Apollo 17 returned to Earth. No human has visited the Moon since.
1981 – Sixteen lives were lost when a Penlee lifeboat went to the aid of the stricken coaster Union Star in heavy seas off the south-west coast of England.
1984 – The People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing to the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China on 1 July 1997.
1997 – The film Titanic was released, eventually becoming the highest-grossing film of all time with a worldwide total of over US$1.8 billion.
1998 – The U.S. House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal.
1860 – South Carolina became the first of eleven slave states to secede from the United States, leading to the eventual creation of the Confederate States of America and later the American Civil War.
1917 – The Cheka, the first Soviet secret police, was established by a decree issued by Vladimir Lenin.
1951 – Experimental Breeder Reactor I near Arco, Idaho, USA, became the world's first electricity-generating nuclear power plant when it produced sufficient electricity to illuminate four 200-watt light bulbs.
1973 – Spanish Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco was assassinated by a bomb planted by members of the Basque nationalist and separatist organisation ETA.
1987 – In one of the worst ever peace-time maritime disasters, an estimated 4,000 people were killed when the Philippine-registered passenger ferry MV Doña Paz sank after colliding with an oil tanker on the Tablas Strait.
1988 – The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, a treaty mostly devoted to fighting organised crime by mandating cooperation in tracing and seizing drug-related assets, was signed in Vienna.
1989 – American forces invaded Panama to overthrow the government of Manuel Noriega.
1995 – As per the Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnian War, the NATO-led IFOR began peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the codename Operation Joint Endeavor.
1999 – Portugal transferred sovereignty of Macau to the People's Republic of China.
69 – Vespasian became the fourth Roman Emperor in the Year of the Four Emperors.
1844 – The Rochdale Pioneers, usually considered the first successful cooperative enterprise, opened their store in Rochdale, England, and formed the basis for the modern cooperative movement.
1872 – HMS Challenger, commanded by Captain George Nares, sailed from Portsmouth, England, on a scientific expedition that eventually made many discoveries that laid the foundation of oceanography.
1883 – The Royal Canadian Regiment and The Royal Canadian Dragoons, the oldest regular regiments of the Canadian Army, were both formed.
1913 – British journalist Arthur Wynne published a "word-cross" puzzle in the New York World, which later became frequently cited as the first crossword puzzle.
1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length cel-animated feature in film history, premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles.
1962 – Rondane National Park, Norway's first national park, was established.
1968 – Apollo 8 launched from Florida's Kennedy Space Centre, with the crew performing the first ever manned Trans Lunar Injection less than three hours into the mission.
1979 – The Lancaster House Agreement was signed, ending biracial rule in Zimbabwe Rhodesia following negotiations between representatives of the Rhodesian government and the Patriotic Front.
1988 – A total of 270 people were killed when a bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103 exploded while the plane was in flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, launching an eventual three-year joint investigation by Britain's Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation.
1808 – German composer Ludwig van Beethoven premiered his Fifth Symphony, currently one of the most popular and well-known compositions in all of European classical music, at the Theatre an der Wien in Vienna.
1864 – American Civil War: Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea ended with the capture of Savannah, Georgia.
1885 – Ito Hirobumi, a samurai from Choshu, became the first Prime Minister of Japan.
1947 – The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly.
1963 – A total of 128 people died when the ocean liner TSMS Lakonia burned at sea 180 miles (290 km) north of Madeira.
1978 – The Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China opened, where Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and other party officials agreed to launch economic reforms and to open up China.
1988 – Brazilian unionist and environmental activist Chico Mendes was murdered at his Xapuri home.
1989 – Romanian Revolution: After a week of bloody demonstrations, Ion Iliescu took over as President of Romania, ending the Communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu.
1989 – Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate re-opened after nearly 30 years, symbolising the unity of East and West Germany.
2001 – CC the cat, the first cloned pet, was born.
2001 – Burhanuddin Rabbani of the Northern Alliance handed over power in Afghanistan to the interim government headed by Hamid Karzai.
962 – Byzantine-Arab Wars: Under the future Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, Byzantine troops stormed the city of Aleppo.
1620 – Construction of the Plymouth Colony, an English colonial venture in what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA, began two days after the first landing party arrived at the site.
1823 – A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas, was first published anonymously. Authorship was later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore.
1888 – During a bout of mental illness, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh stalked his friend French painter Paul Gauguin with a razor, and then afterwards cut off the lower part of his own left ear and gave it to a prostitute.
1913 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, establishing a central banking system of the United States, the Federal Reserve.
1947 – The transistor, invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley, was first demonstrated at Bell Laboratories.
1957 – Ian Craig of Australia became the youngest Test cricket captain in history.
1958 – The Tokyo Tower, the tallest self-supporting steel structure in the world at 332.5 metres, opened.
1972 – In one of the most famous plays in the history of American football, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris made the Immaculate Reception of the football passed "to" him by quarterback Terry Bradshaw near the end of a playoff game.
1972 – The Nicaraguan capital of Managua was struck by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake, killing more than 10,000 people.
1986 – Piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, Voyager became the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, landing in California's Edwards Air Force Base after a nine-day trip.
1990 – About eighty-eight percent of the population in Slovenia voted to secede from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
1294 – Boniface VIII began his palpacy, replacing St. Celestine V who had abdicated.
1777 – An expedition led by English explorer James Cook reached Christmas Island, the largest coral atoll in the world.
1814 – The Treaty of Ghent was signed in Ghent, present-day Belgium, ending the War of 1812 between the United Kingdom and the United States.
1818 – "Silent Night", a Christmas carol by Josef Mohr and Franz Gruber, was first performed in a church in Austria.
1865 – Six Confederate veterans of the American Civil War founded the Ku Klux Klan, which would later become a white supremacist group.
1906 – Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast, which included his playing a song on the violin and reading a passage from the Bible.
1914 – British and German soldiers interrupted World War I to celebrate Christmas, beginning the Christmas truce.
1953 – In the worst rail accident in New Zealand, an overnight North Island Main Trunk train fell into the Whangaehu River after a railway bridge collapsed, killing over 150 people.
1964 – The Vietcong bombed the Brinks Hotel in Saigon, killing two US Army officers, raising fears of an escalation in the Vietnam War.
1968 – Astronaut William Anders of the NASA spacecraft Apollo 8, the first manned voyage to orbit the Moon, took the famous photograph known as "Earthrise", showing the Earth rising above the lunar surface.
1974 – Cyclone Tracy struck Darwin, Australia, eventually destroying more than 70 percent of the city.
1994 – The secretive Scientology organisation story of Xenu was published on the Internet for the first time in a posting to the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology; this led to an online battle between Church of Scientology lawyers and detractors.
800 – In Rome's St. Peter's Basilica, Frankish King Charlemagne was crowned Imperator Augustus by Pope Leo III as a rival of the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople.
1066 – William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey, completing the Norman Conquest, the last successful foreign conquest of England.
1100 – Baldwin of Boulogne was crowned as the first King of Jerusalem in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
1776 – American Revolutionary War: George Washington and his army crossed the Delaware River to launch a surprise attack on Hessian mercenaries at the Battle of Trenton.
1926 – Emperor Taisho died of a heart attack, and was succeeded by his son, Hirohito, who became the longest-reigning Emperor of Japan until his death in 1989.
1927 – The Vietnamese Nationalist Party, a revolutionary socialist political party that sought independence from French colonial rule in Vietnam, was formed in Hanoi.
1941 – World War II: The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong began after Mark Aitchison Young, the Governor of Hong Kong, surrendered the territory to Japan after 18 days of fierce fighting.
1947 – The Constitution of the Republic of China went into effect, amid the ongoing Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communists.
1950 – The Stone of Scone, the traditional coronation stone of Scottish monarchs, English monarchs, and more recently British monarchs, was stolen from London's Westminster Abbey by a group of four Scottish students. It later turned up in Scotland on 11 April 1951.
1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the Soviet Union.
2000 – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that officially established a new National Anthem of Russia, with music adopted from the anthem of the Soviet Union that was composed by Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov.
2003 – The Beagle 2 space probe, part of the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission, disappeared shortly before its scheduled landing on Mars.
2009 – Aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear.
1606 – The first recorded performance of the play King Lear, a tragedy by William Shakespeare based on the legend of King Lear of Britain, was held.
1790 – French Revolution: Louis XVI of France gave his Royal Assent to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, subordinating the Roman Catholic Church in France to the French government.
1806 – War of the Fourth Coalition: French troops under Napoleon engaged Russian forces in both the Battles of Pultusk and Golymin.
1825 – Decembrist revolt: Russian army officers led about 3,000 soldiers in a protest against Nicholas I's assumption of the Russian throne.
1862 – American Civil War: Confederate forces engaged Union troops at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou near Vicksburg, Mississippi.
1898 – At the French Academy of Sciences, physicists Pierre and Marie Curie announced the discovery of a new element, naming it radium.
1908 – Boxer Jack Johnson became the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World after defeating Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney.
1946 – American gangster Bugsy Siegel opened the The Pink Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
1991 – The Supreme Soviet officially dissolved itself and the Soviet Union.
1996 – Six-year-old American beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado, a murder that generated extensive coverage from the American media.
2004 – An undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia generated a series of devastating tsunamis that killed more than 225,000 people in eleven countries.
2006 – The Hengchun earthquake struck off the southwest coast of Taiwan, coincidentally on the second anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that devastated the coastal communities across Southeast and South Asia, and on the third anniversary of the 2003 Bam earthquake that destroyed areas of southeastern Iran.
537 – The current Hagia Sophia building in Istanbul, originally built as a church before it later became a mosque in 1453 and then a museum in 1935, was inaugurated.
1831 – Aboard HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin left Plymouth, England, on what became a historic expedition to South America that made his name as a naturalist.
1904 – Scottish author and dramatist J. M. Barrie's stage play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, about a mischievous little boy who can fly, premiered in London.
1918 – A public speech by famed Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski in Poznan sparked the Greater Poland Uprising against Germany.
1936 –The Petlyakov Pe-8, a Soviet heavy bomber, had its first flight.
1945 – The international ratification of the Bretton Woods Agreement established the International Monetary Fund and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
1949 – Indonesian National Revolution: Queen Juliana of the Netherlands signed papers that relinquished sovereignty of most of the Dutch East Indies, officially recognising the independence of Indonesia.
1978 – Juan Carlos I of Spain promulgated a new constitution after it was passed by a referendum on December 6, marking the culmination of the Spanish transition to democracy.
1979 – Soviet war in Afghanistan: Soviet troops stormed Tajbeg Palace outside of Kabul and killed Afghan President Hafizullah Amin and his 300 elite guards.
2004 – Radiation from an explosion on the magnetar SGR 1806-20 reached Earth, the most magnetic object ever perceived by mankind, with a magnetic field of over 1015 gauss in intensity.
2007 – Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto was assassinated while she was leaving a political rally of Pakistan Peoples Party supporters at Liaquat National Bagh in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
1065 – Westminster Abbey in London, built by Edward the Confessor between 1045 and 1050, was consecrated.
1768 – Taksin the Great was crowned king of the newly established Thonburi Kingdom in the new capital at Thonburi, present-day Thailand.
1832 – John C. Calhoun became the first Vice President of the United States to officially resign from office, opting to instead represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate in the aftermath of the Nullification Crisis.
1835 – Osceola led his Seminole warriors in Florida into the Second Seminole War against the U.S. Army.
1836 – At the Old Gum Tree near present-day Adelaide, Royal Navy Rear-Admiral John Hindmarsh read a proclamation establishing the British province of South Australia.
1879 – The Tay Rail Bridge, spanning the Firth of Tay in Scotland between Dundee and the Wormit, collapsed during a violent storm while a train was passing over it, killing all on board.
1895 – History of film: Using their cinematograph in Paris, the Lumière brothers showed motion pictures to a paying audience for the first time.
1935 – Politician Pavel Postyshev revived the New Year tree tradition in the Soviet Union when Pravda published his letter asking for them to be installed in schools, children's homes, Young Pioneer Palaces, children's clubs, children's theatres, and cinema theatres.
1948 – The Douglas DC-3 airliner NC16002, en route from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Miami, Florida, USA, disappeared in the area known as the Bermuda Triangle.
1973 – U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law, a wide-ranging environmental law designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation."
1989 – In one of Australia's most serious natural disasters, a 5.6 ML earthquake struck Newcastle, New South Wales, killing 13 people and injuring more than 160 others, and causing an estimated AU$4 billion in damages.
1999 – Saparmurat Niyazov, the first President of Turkmenistan, was proclaimed President for Life by the Assembly of Turkmenistan.
2007 – The Nepalese government agreed to abolish the country's 240-year-old monarchy.
1170 – Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was slain in his own cathedral by four knights of Henry II of England.
1845 – The Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States, becoming the 28th state admitted into the union.
1860 – To counter the French Navy's La Gloire, the world's first ironclad warship, the British Royal Navy launched the world's first iron-hulled armoured battleship, HMS Warrior.
1876 – A railway bridge over the Ashtabula River in Ohio collapsed when a Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway Train was crossing over it, killing 92 people and injuring 64 others.
1890 – The United States Army killed over 150 members of the Great Sioux Nation at the Wounded Knee Massacre.
1911 – Sun Yat-sen was elected in Nanking as the provisional President of the Republic of China by provincial representatives.
1930 – During an address in Allahabad, poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal introduced what became known as the Two-Nation Theory outlining a vision for the creation of an independent state for Muslim-majority provinces in northwestern India.
1937 – The Constitution of Ireland, the founding legal document of the state known today as the Republic of Ireland, came into force.
1993 – The Tian Tan Buddha, at the time the world's tallest outdoor bronze statue of the seated Buddha, was completed.
1880 – Paul Kruger, who would eventually become the international face of the Boer resistance during the Second Boer War, was elected President of the Transvaal Republic.
1896 – Philippine Revolution: Nationalist José Rizal was executed by a firing squad in Manila after Spanish authorities convicted him of rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy.
1903 – In the deadliest single-building fire in United States history, the Iroquois Theatre Fire claimed 602 lives in Chicago.
1906 – The All India Muslim League, a political party in British India that developed into the driving force behind the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim state on the Indian subcontinent, was founded in Dhaka.
1922 – The Treaty on the Creation of the USSR, legalising the creation of a union of several Soviet republics in the form of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was ratified.
1927 – The Ginza Line, the oldest underground subway line in the Far East, opened in Tokyo.
1940 – The Arroyo Seco Parkway, one of the first freeways built in the United States, opened to traffic, connecting Downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena, California.
1947 – Michael, King of Romania, was forced to abdicate as the Kingdom of Romania became Communist Romania.
1965 – Ferdinand Marcos became President of the Philippines.
2000 – December 30 bombings: A series of bombings occurred around Metro Manila in the Philippines within a span of a few hours, killing 22 people and injuring 100 others.
2004 – A fire broke out in the República Cromagnon nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 194 people and injuring 714 others.
2006 – Former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein was executed after being found guilty of crimes against humanity by the Iraqi Special Tribunal.
1225 – The Ly Dynasty of Vietnam was ended after 216 years by the enthronement of the boy emperor Tran Thai Tong, husband of the last Ly monarch, Ly Chieu Hoang, starting the Tran Dynasty.
1600 – The British East India Company was founded by a Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I.
1775 – American Revolutionary War: At the Battle of Quebec, British forces repulsed an attack by the Continental Army to capture Quebec City and enlist French Canadian support.
1857 – Queen Victoria selected Ottawa as the capital of the British colony of Canada.
1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee began in an engagement that would have the highest percentage of casualties on both sides.
1907 – The first time ball in New York City's Times Square signifying New Year's Day was dropped.
1960 – The farthing, a British coin first minted in England in the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.
1963 – The Central African Federation officially collapsed, eventually to become Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia.
1963 – The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved, ending the tenure of Prime Minister Roy Welensky.
1965 – Jean-Bédel Bokassa, leader of the Central African Republic army, and his military officers began a coup d'état against the government of President David Dacko.
1972 – American baseball player Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash en route to deliver aid to victims of the Nicaragua earthquake.
1981 – President of Ghana Hilla Limann was deposed in a coup d'état.
1999 – Boris Yeltsin, the first President of Russia, resigned and named Vladimir Putin as Acting President.
2004 – Taipei 101 in Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan, one of the world's tallest skyscrapers, opened to the public.
2007 – A fire razed several fireworks stores in the Municipality of Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines, injuring seven within an hour.