- 1581 – Francis Drake completes a circumnavigation of the world.
- 1818 – The U.S. Congress adopts the flag of the United States.
- 1850 – Los Angeles, California is incorporated as a city.
- 1887 – The first woman mayor was elected in the U.S. as Susanna M. Salter became mayor of Argonia, Kansas.
- 1949 – Twelve nations signed the treaty creating NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The nations united for common military defense against the threat of expansion by Soviet Russia into Western Europe.
- 1969 – Dr. Denton Cooley implants the first temporary artificial heart.
- 1973 – The World Trade Center in New York is officially dedicated.
- 1974 – Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714.
- 1975 – Bill Gates and Paul Allen establish Microsoft. Microsoft has developed into a multinational corporation, and it is the world’s largest software maker by revenue.
- 1979 – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is executed. The former President of Pakistan had been deposed by a coup d’etat. He was hanged despite international calls to stop the execution.
- 1802 – American social reformer Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) was born in Hampden, Maine
- 1875 – Pierre Monteux (French conductor)
- 1884 – Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (1884-1943) was born in Nagaoko, Honshu
- 1928 – Maya Angelou (Poet)
- 1932 – Anthony Perkins (Actor)
- 1952 – Gary Moore (Irish singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer)
- 1965 – Robert Downey Jr. (Actor)
- 1973 – David Blaine (Magician)
- 1979 – Roberto Luongo (Canadian ice hockey player)
- 1979 – Heath Ledger (Actor)
- 1929 – Karl Benz (German engineer, businessman, founded Mercedes-Benz)
- 1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. (American minster, activist, Nobel Prize laureate)
- 1979 – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Pakistani politician, 4th President of Pakistan)
- 1984 – Oleg Antonov (Soviet aircraft designer, founded the Antonov Aircraft Company)
- 2013 – Roger Ebert (American journalist, critic, screenwriter)