- 1776 – During the American Revolution, Nathan Hale was executed without a trial after he was caught spying on British troops on Long Island, his last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
- 1862 – President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves in territories held by Confederates as of January 1, 1863.
- 1862 – Otto von Bismarck became premier of Prussia. He forged a loose confederation of German states into a powerful nation, with Wilhelm I becoming Kaiser of the new German Empire.
- 1869 – Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold or The Rhine Gold is heard for the first time. The first of 4 musical works of art that constitute Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, Das Rheingold was played at the National Theatre in Munich. The other three music dramas are Die Walküre or The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung or Twilight of the Gods.
- 1960 – Mali Federation becomes Mali. In August 1960, Senegal opted out of the Mali Federation allowing the federation to take on the name of Mali.
- 1975 – Assassination attempt on US President Gerald Ford is foiled. FBI informant Sara Jane Moore’s attempt to assassinate the president in San Francisco failed due to a faulty gun and the efforts of ex-FBI agent Oliver Sipple who tackled her.
- 1979 – The American-run Vela satellite detects a series of bright flashes over the Indian Ocean. The flashes were thought to be associated with atmospheric nuclear explosions. Some experts theorized that they were caused by joint Israeli and South African nuclear exercises. The governments of both countries denied this and to date it hasn’t been confirmed whether the flashes were indeed nuclear explosions, and who was responsible for them.
- 1980 – Iran is invaded by Iraq.
- 1991 – The Dead Sea Scrolls are made available to the public for the first time
- 1996 – Australian Bob Dent, a cancer victim, became the first person to commit legally assisted suicide, via a lethal injection, under a voluntary euthanasia law.
- 2004 – The first episode of the TV show ‘Lost’ airs.
- 1515 – Anne of Cleves (Queen of England, wife of Henry VIII)
- 1791 – Michael Faraday (Scientist)
- 1902 – Ruhollah Khomeini (Iranian religious leader, politician, 1st Supreme Leader of Iran)
- 1927 – Tommy Lasorda (Baseball Manager)
- 1958 – Andrea Bocelli (Italian tenor, songwriter, producer)
- 1958 – Joan Jett (Singer)
- 1961 – Bonnie Hunt (Actress)
- 1961 – Scott Baio (Actor)
- 1964 – Liam Fox (Scottish politician)
- 1987 – Tom Felton (Actor – Harry Potter Movies)
- 1828 – Shaka (Zulu leader)
- 1961 – Marion Davies (American actress)
- 1989 – Irving Berlin (American composer)
- 2007 – Marcel Marceau (French mime, actor)
- 2015 – Yogi Berra (American baseball player, manager)