- 1871 – The Great Fire of Chicago erupted. According to legend, it started when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in her barn on DeKoven Street. Over 300 persons were killed and 90,000 were left homeless as the fire leveled 3.5 square miles, destroying 17,450 buildings. Financial losses totaled over $200 million.
- 1912 – First Balkan war begins. Montenegro started the conflict by declaring war on the Ottoman Empire. A few days later Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia joined the war and created the Balkan League. The 7-month long war ended with a decisive Balkan League victory. Dissatisfaction over the spoils of the war led to the Second Balkan War a year later.
- 1918 – During World War I in the Argonne Forest in France, U.S. Sergeant Alvin C. York single-handedly took out a German machine-gun battalion, killing over a dozen and capturing 132. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre.
- 1919 – World’s first transcontinental air race. 63 airplanes – 15 from San Francisco and 48 from New York – took part in this 5400-mile round-trip race. The winner, Lieutenant Belvin Maynard, took 3 days and 21 hours to return to New York.
- 1948 – World’s first internal pacemaker implanted. A 43-year-old man called Arne Larsson was the recipient of the pacemaker which worked only for a few hours. However, Larsson lived long after the pacemaker stopped working. He died in 2001 at the age of 86.
- 1956 – Baseball pitcher Don Larsen pitches the first perfect game in World Series history
- 1957 – The Dodgers announce they are going to move from Brooklyn, New York to Los Angeles, California
- 1993 – The U.N. General Assembly lifted economic sanctions against South Africa following the end of racial apartheid. The sanctions had been imposed since the 1960s.
- 1996 – Palestinian President Yasser Arafat made his first public visit to Israel for talks with Israeli President Ezer Weizman at his private residence.
- 1998 – The U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-176 to approve a resolution launching an impeachment inquiry of President Bill Clinton. It was only the third time in U.S. history the House launched a formal impeachment inquiry of a sitting president. (The other two: Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon).
- 2001 – The US Office of Homeland Security is established.
- 2004 – TV hostess Martha Stewart goes to jail for insider trading.
- 1890 – American fighter pilot Ace Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) was born in Columbus, Ohio (He commanded the first U.S (aero unit to take part in World War I and was credited with 26 victories, becoming America’s leading Ace (He was awarded the Medal of Honor (He later got involved in auto racing and headed Eastern Air Lines from 1934-63.
- 1895 – Juan Peron (President of Argentina)
- 1939 – Harvey Pekar (American author)
- 1943 – Chevy Chase (American comedian, actor)
- 1943 – R. L. Stine (Author – Goosebumps Series)
- 1949 – Sigourney Weaver (Actress)
- 1955 – Bill Elliott (Nascar Driver)
- 1970 – Matt Damon (Actor)
- 1985 – Bruno Mars (American singer-songwriter, producer, actor)
- 1997 – Bella Thorne (Actress)
- 1793 – John Hancock (American politician, 1st Governor of Massachusetts)
- 1869 – Franklin Pierce (American politician, 14th President of the United States)
- 1936 – Premchand (Indian author)
- 1967 – Clement Attlee (English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)
- 1992 – Willy Brandt (German politician, 4th Chancellor of Germany, Nobel Prize laureate)