What happened on your birthday?

more events on December 17

  • 2012

    Moscow’s top court upholds ban of gay pride events in Russia’s capital city for 100 years.

  • 2011

    Occupy Wall Street movement calling for greater social and economic equality begins in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, coining the phrase “We are the 99%.”

  • 2010

    Mohamed Bouazizi immolates himself, the catalyst for the Tunisian revolution and the subsequent Arab Spring.

  • 2007

    James, Viscount Severn, son of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex; youngest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

  • 2006

    Alaska’s Fourpeaked Mountain erupts for the first time in at least 10,000 years.

  • 2005

    Israel begins the first forced evacuation of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, as part of a unilateral disengagement plan.

  • 2003

    Taipei 101 is completed in Taipei, becoming the world’s tallest high-rise.

  • 2002

    Congolese parties of the inter Congolese Dialogue sign a peace accord in the Second Congo War, providing for transitional government and elections within two years.

  • 2001

    Rehavam Ze’evi, Israeli tourism minister and founder of the right-wing Moledet party, assassinated by a member of the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); he was the first Israeli minister ever assassinated.

  • The New York Stock Exchange reopens for the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers; longest period of closure since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

  • 2000

    Controversial President of Peru Alberto Fujimori removed from office.

  • 1999

    A 7.4-magnitude earthquake near Izmit, Turkey kills over 17,000 and injures nearly 45,000.

  • 1998

    President Bill Clinton admits to the American public that he had affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

  • 1994

    Dmitry Kholodov, a Russian journalist, assassinated while investigating corruption in the armed forces; his murkier began a series of killings of journalists in Russia.

  • Millions of Americans watch former football player O.J. Simpson–facing murder charges–drive his Ford Bronco through Los Angeles, followed by police.

  • 1993

    Gen. Sani Abacha leads a military coup in Nigeria that overthrows the government of Ernest Shonekan.

  • US House of Representatives passes resolution to establish the North American Free Trade Agreement.

  • 1992

    White South Africans approve constitutional reforms giving legal equality to blacks.

  • 1990

    Jean-Bertrand Aristide wins Haiti’s first free election.

  • 1989

    Fernando Color de Mello becomes Brazil’s first democratically elected president in nearly 30 years.

  • The Simpsons, television’s longest-running animated series, makes its US debut.

  • Student demonstration in Prague put down by riot police, leading to an uprising (the Velvet Revolution) that will topple the communist government on Dec. 29.

  • The worst earthquake in 82 years strikes San Francisco bay area minutes before the start of a World Series game there. The earthquake registers 6.9 on the Richter scale–67 are killed and damage is estimated at $10 billion.

  • 1988

    Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq is killed in an airplane crash suspected of being an assassination.

  • 1987

    93-year-old Rudolf Hess, former Nazi leader and deputy of Adolf Hitler, is found hanged to death in Spandau Prison.

  • Lt. Col. Oliver North and Rear Adm. John Poindexter begin testifying to Congress regarding the Iran-Contra scandal.

  • In the Persian Gulf the American guided missile frigate USS Stark is struck by 2 Exocet missiles fired by an Iraqi aircraft; only one detonates, but 37 sailors are killed and 21 are wounded. Whether the launch was deliberate or a mistake is still debated.

  • 1986

    Renault President Georges Besse is shot to death by leftists of the Direct Action Group in Paris.

  • 1985

    President Ronald Reagan agrees to a joint study with Canada on acid rain.

  • Murray Haydon becomes the third person to receive an artificial heart.

  • A jury in New Jersey rules that terminally ill patients have the right to starve themselves.

  • 1983

    Vanessa Williams becomes the first black Miss America; relinquished crown early after scandal over nude photos.

  • In Warsaw, police rout 1,000 Solidarity supporters.

  • 1981

    Red Brigade terrorists kidnap Brigadier General James Dozier, the highest-ranking U.S. NATO officer in Italy.

  • 1980

    WHHM Television in Washington, D.C., becomes the first African-American public-broadcasting television station.

  • Nationwide independent trade union Solidarity established in Poland.

  • 1979

    China begins a “pedagogical” war against Vietnam. It will last until March.

  • 1978

    Egypt and Israel sign the Camp David Accords.

  • Three Americans complete the first crossing of the Atlantic in a balloon.

  • 1976

    The Space Shuttle is unveiled to the public.

  • 1975

    Khmer Rouge forces capture the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.

  • Art by Cezanne, Gauguin, Renoir, and van Gogh, valued at $5 million, is stolen from the Municipal Museum in Milan.

  • 1973

    The Senate Watergate Committee begins its hearings.

  • First POWs are released from the “Hanoi Hilton” in Hanoi, North Vietnam.

  • Twenty are killed in Cambodia when a bomb goes off that was meant for the Cambodian President Lon Nol.

  • President Richard Nixon names Patrick Gray director of the FBI.

  • 1972

    Peace talks between Pathet Lao and Royal Lao government begin in Vietnam.

  • Five men are arrested for burglarizing Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.

  • Nixon asks Congress to halt busing in order to achieve desegregation.

  • 1970

    Soviet unmanned Luna 17 touches down on the moon.

  • North Vietnamese troops cut the last operating rail line in Cambodia.

  • Apollo 13–originally scheduled to land on the moon–lands back safely on Earth after an accident.

  • The Army charges 14 officers with suppression of facts in the My Lai massacre case.

  • 1969

    Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

  • Russia and Peru sign their first trade accord.

  • 1968

    Ziggy Marley, Jamaican musician, leader of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers; oldest son of reggae great Bob Marley.

  • Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece.

  • 1967

    The American Surveyor 6 makes a six-second flight on the moon, the first liftoff on the lunar surface.

  • 1966

    Ho Chi Minh orders a partial mobilization of North Vietnam to defend against American airstrikes.

  • A U.S. submarine locates a missing H-bomb in the Mediterranean.

  • 1965

    Ending an election campaign marked by bitterness and violence, Ferdinand Marcos is declared president of the Philippines.

  • The NVA ambushes American troops of the 7th Cavalry at Landing Zone Albany in the Ia Drang Valley, almost wiping them out.

  • Robert Manry, copy editor of Cleveland Plain Dealer who sailed solo in a sailboat from Falmouth, Massachusetts, to Falmouth, Cornwall, England.

  • 27 B-52s hit Viet Cong outposts, but lose two planes in South Vietnam.

  • 1964

    Jerrie Mock becomes first woman to fly solo around the world.

  • Michelle Robinson Obama, wife of US President Barack Obama.

  • 1963

    The U.S. Supreme Court bans the required reading of the Lord’s prayer and Bible in public schools.

  • Michael Jordan, basketball player for the Chicago Bulls.

  • Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visits the Berlin Wall.

  • Soviet leader Khrushchev visits the Berlin Wall.

  • 1962

    Richard Jewell, police officer who discovered pipe bombs on the grounds of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and helped evacuate the area before the bombs exploded.

  • The first federal suit to end public school segregation is filed by the U.S. Justice Department.

  • The Soviet Union asks the United States to pull out of South Vietnam.

  • 1961

    Some 1,400 Cuban exiles attack the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.

  • The United States increases military aid and technicians to Laos.

  • 1960

    Rob Marshall, theater and film director, choreographer; awards include 4 Emmys and an Academy Award for Best Picture (Chicago, 2002).

  • Sean Penn, actor, screenwriter, director, political and social activist (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Mystic River).

  • American Francis Gary Powers pleads guilty at his Moscow trial for spying over the Soviet Union in a U-2 plane.

  • American pilot Francis Gary Powers pleads guilty to spying charges in a Moscow court.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested in the Alabama bus boycott.

  • 1959

    The X-15 rocket plane makes its first flight.

  • The 14th Dalai Lama flees Tibet and goes to India.

  • The United States launches its first weather station in space, Vanguard II.

  • 1958

    Alan Jackson, country singer with over 60 million records sold worldwide; his many awards include 2 Grammys and 16 Country Music Association awards; “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning”; “Don’t Rock the Jukebox.”

  • 1957

    The Thai army seizes power in Bangkok.

  • 1956

    The nuclear power station Calder Hall is opened in Britain. Calder Hall is the first nuclear station to feed an appreciable amount of power into a civilian network.

  • 1955

    Britain announces its ability to make hydrogen bombs.

  • 1954

    The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules for school integration in Brown v. Board of Education.

  • 1953

    Altaf Hussain, founder and leader of Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

  • Steve Williams, drummer and songwriter with influential Welch heavy metal group Budgie.

  • Judith Regan, controversial book publisher, editor, talk show host.

  • Soviet tanks fight thousands of Berlin workers rioting against the East German government.

  • 1952

    Yugoslavia breaks relations with the Vatican.

  • 1951

    Britain reports development of the world’s first nuclear-powered heating system.

  • Packard introduces its “250” Chassis Convertible.

  • 1950

  • Surgeon Richard Lawler performs the first kidney transplant operation in Chicago.

  • 1949

    Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Vietnam (2006– )

  • 1948

    The Smithsonian Institution accepts the Kitty Hawk – the Wright brothers’ plane.

  • Margo Kidder, actress; best known for playing Lois Lane in four Superman movies between 1978 and 1987.

  • John Ritter, actor, comedian (Three’s Company TV series).

  • 1947

    Jeff MacNelly, political cartoonist, creator of the comic strip Shoe.

  • James Forestall is sworn in as first the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

  • Jackie Robinson bunts for his first major league hit.

  • 1946

    Adam Michnik, Polish historian and editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wybocza, Poland’s largest newspaper; named Europe’s Man of the Year by La Vie magazine (1989).

  • Michael Hossack, drummer for the Doobie Brothers band

  • Chinese communists attack the Nationalist army on the Yangtze River.

  • The last French troops leave Syria.

  • 1945

    Chris Matthews, news anchor, political commentator; host of Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

  • Upon hearing confirmation that Japan has surrendered, Sukarno proclaims Indonesia’s independence.

  • Gen. MacArthur’s troops land on Corregidor in the Philippines.

  • The Red army occupies Warsaw.

  • 1944

    U.S. approves end to internment of Japanese Americans. U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt issues Public Proclamation No. 21, declaring that Japanese American “evacuees” from the West Coast could return to their homes effective January 2, 1945.

  • The German Army renews the attack on the Belgian town of Losheimergraben against the defending Americans during the Battle of the Bulge.

  • Lorne Michaels, israeli-American TV producer; created Saturday Night Live.

  • Danny DeVito, actor, director, producer (Taxi TV series; Throw Momma from the Train, Pulp Fiction).

  • Gene Clark, singer, songwriter; member of the bands The Byrds, The New Christy Minstrels, and Dillard & Clark.

  • British airborne troops parachute into Holland to capture the Arnhem bridge as part of Operation Market-Garden. The plan called for the airborne troops to be relieved by British troops, but they were left stranded and eventually surrendered to the Germans.

  • Lawrence Joseph Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation.

  • The mayor of Paris, Pierre Charles Tattinger, meets with the German commander Dietrich von Choltitz to protest the explosives being deployed throughout the city.

  • Field Marshall Erwin Rommel is wounded when an Allied fighter strafes his staff car in France.

  • French troops land on the island of Elba in the Mediterranean.

  • The U.S. Eighth Air Force bombs Vienna.

  • U.S forces land on Eniwetok atoll in the South Pacific.

  • 1943

    Robert DeNiro, American actor, won Oscars for his roles in The Godfather Part II and Raging Bull.

  • Allied forces complete the conquest of Sicily.

  • 1942

    Martin Scorsese, film director (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull).

  • Gary Puckett, singer, songwriter; lead singer of Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (“Woman, Woman”; “Young Girl”).

  • British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meets with Soviet Premier Josef Stalin in Moscow as the German Army rams into Stalingrad.

  • Marine Raiders attack Makin Island in the Gilbert Islands from two submarines.

  • Rod Padgett, poet.

  • Yank a weekly magazine for the U.S. armed services, begins publication.

  • The Nazis begin deporting Jews to the Belsen camp.

  • Muhammad Ali [Cassius Clay], U.S. boxer, “The Greatest,” who is the only three-time heavyweight champion..

  • 1941

    German Luftwaffe general and World War I fighter-ace Ernst Udet commits suicide. The Nazi government tells the public that he died in a flying accident.

  • The U.S. destroyer Kearney is damaged by a German U-boat torpedo off Iceland; 11 Americans are killed.

  • 1940

    The Soviet Union occupies Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

  • Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium and begins the invasion of France.

  • 1939

    In the Battle of River Plate near Montevideo, Uruguay, the British trap the German pocket battleship Graf Spee. German Captain Langsdorf sinks his ship believing that resistance is hopeless.

  • With the German army already attacking western Poland, the Soviet Union launches an invasion of eastern Poland.

  • The Reich issues an order forbidding Jews to practice as dentists, veterinarians and chemists.

  • 1938

    Italy declares the 1935 pact with France invalid because ratifications had not been exchanged. France denies the argument.

  • Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian singer, songwriter, musician (“Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “In the Early Morning Rain”).

  • Evel Knievel, U.S. daredevil motorcycle stunt man.

  • The first color television is demonstrated at the Dominion Theatre in London.

  • 1937

    US Lt. Gen. Calvin Waller, deputy commander-in-chief for military operations with US Central Command (Forward) during the First Gulf War.

  • Kerry Packer, Australian businessman who founded World Series Cricket.

  • Art Neville, singer, musician; member of The Neville Brothers and The Meters.

  • 1936

    Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina), named to the Papacy March 13, 2013.

  • 1935

    George Lindsey, comic actor best known for his role as Goober on The Andy Griffith Show.

  • Ken Kesey, author (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Sometimes a Great Notion).

  • Peter Schickele, composer, creator of P.D.Q. Bach.

  • Thirty-one prisoners escape an Oklahoma prison after murdering a guard.

  • 1933

    Due to rising anti-Semitism and anti-intellectualism in Hitler’s Germany, Albert Einstein immigrates to the United States. He makes his new home in Princeton, N.J.

  • The League of Nations censures Japan in a worldwide broadcast.

  • 1932

    John (Red) Kerr, basketball coach.

  • The U.S. Senate defeats the Bonus Bill as 10,000 veterans mass around the Capitol.

  • 1931

    Charles Lindbergh inaugurates Pan Am service from Cuba to South America in the Sikorsky flying boat American Clipper.

  • British authorities in China arrest Indochinese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh.

  • 1930

    Bob Guccione, publisher; founder of Penthouse magazine.

  • Jimmy Breslin, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, author and columnist.

  • The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill becomes law, placing the highest tariff on imports to the United States.

  • Mob boss Al Capone is released from jail.

  • 1929

    William Safire, journalist and author.

  • Baseball player Babe Ruth and Claire Hodgson, a former member of the Ziegfeld Follies, get married.

  • Chaim Potok, novelist (The Chosen, The Promise).

  • 1928

    Cynthia Ozick, writer (The Cannibal Galaxy, The Messiah of Stockholm).

  • 1926

    Spain threatens to quit the League of Nations if Germany is allowed to join.

  • 1925

    Rock Hudson, actor (McMillan & Wife TV series; Giant).

  • Laszlo Nagy, Hungarian poet.

  • The first issue of Harold Ross’ magazine, The New Yorker, hits the stands, selling for 15 cents a copy.

  • 1924

    The Fascist militia marches into Rome.

  • Four Douglas army aircraft leave Los Angeles for an around the world flight.

  • 1923

    Hank Williams, Sr., influential Country singer, songwriter and guitarist (“Lonesome Blues,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart”.)

  • Larry Rovers, painter and sculptor.

  • James Purdy, writer (Cabot Wright Begins).

  • Harry Reasoner, American broadcast journalist.

  • 1922

    Donald Davie, English poet and literary critic.

  • Betty White, actress; created memorable characters in TV sitcoms from the 1950s into the 21st century (Life with Elizabeth, Mary Tyler Moore, The Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland) and was a popular guest on TV game shows. At age 88 and a half she became the oldest person ever to host Saturday Night Live (2010).

  • 1919

    Nat “King” Cole, American jazz pianist and singer.

  • Germany signs an armistice giving up territory in Poland.

  • 1918

    German troops evacuate Brussels.

  • Influenza deaths reported in the United States have far exceeded World War I casualties.

  • Rita Hayworth, film actress.

  • 1917

    The German Army recaptures the Russian Port of Riga from Russian forces.

  • The Russian Duma meets in secret session in Petrograd and votes for an immediate Russian offensive against the German Army.

  • 1916

    Shelby Foote, American writer, famous for his three-volume narrative on America’s Civil War.

  • Germany’s “Red Baron,” Manfred von Richthofen, wins his first aerial combat.

  • 1915

    Arthur Miller, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (Death of a Salesman, A View from the Bridge).

  • 1914

    John Hersey, novelist and journalist (Men on Bataan, Hiroshima).

  • Russia increases the number of active duty military from 460,000 to 1,700,000.

  • 1913

    The first ship sails through the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

  • Zeppelin LII explodes southeast of central Berlin, killing 28.

  • U.S. Marines set sail from San Diego to protect American interests in Mexico.

  • 1912

    Art Linkletter, radio and television personality.

  • The German Zeppelin SZ 111 burns in its hangar in Friedrichshafen.

  • Archibald Cox, special prosecutor in the Watergate hearings, fired by President Richard Nixon.

  • Robert Scott reaches the South Pole only a month after Roald Amundsen.

  • 1910

    The Camp Fire Girls are founded in Lake Sebago, Maine.

  • 1909

    Apache chief Geronimo dies of pneumonia at age 80, while still in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

  • 1908

    Willard Frank Libby, American chemist who won a Nobel Prize for his part in creating the carbon-14 method in dating ancient findings.

  • Walter Lanier “Red” Barber, baseball announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees.

  • 1907

    Warren E. Burger, chief justice of the Supreme Court.

  • 1905

    Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, marries Franklin D. Roosevelt in New York.

  • 1903

    Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft.

  • Vladimir Lenin’s efforts to impose his own radical views on the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party splits the party into two factions, the Bolsheviks, who support Lenin, and the Mensheviks.

  • Nathaneal West, novelist and screenwriter (Miss Lonely Hearts, The Day of the Locust).

  • Turks destroy the town of Kastoria in Bulgaria, killing 10,000 civilians.

  • James “Cool Papa” Bell, baseball player.

  • 1902

    Eugene Paul Wigner, Hungarian-born physicist.

  • U.S. troops are sent to Panama to keep train lines open over the isthmus as Panamanian nationals struggle for independence from Colombia.

  • Christina E. Stead, novelist and screenwriter.

  • Bobby Jones, American golfer.

  • Marian Anderson, American singer.

  • 1900

    Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iranian religious leader.

  • 1899

    James Cagney, American actor (Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mister Roberts).

  • Al Capone, U.S. mobster known as “Scarface Al” who ran most of Chicago and the surrounding area.

  • 1898

    Bernice Abbott, photographer.

  • U.S. troops under General William R. Shafter take Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

  • 1897

    Thornton Wilder, novelist and playwright (Our Town).

  • 1895

    Doris Humphrey, modern dance choreographer.

  • China and Japan sign peace treaty of Shimonoseki.

  • 1894

    Georges Lemaitre, Belgian astronomer.

  • Nikita S. Khrushchev, Soviet premier (1958-64).

  • 1893

    Queen Liliuokalani, the Hawaiian monarch, is overthrown by a group of American sugar planters led by Sanford Ballard Dole.

  • 1892

    Mae West, American actress in burlesque, vaudeville, Broadway and movies.

  • 1891

    The British steamer Utopia sinks off the coast of Gibraltar.

  • 1890

    Harry Hopkins, who organized the Works Projects Administration under President Franklin Roosevelt.

  • 1889

    Erle Stanley Gardner, detective writer, creator of Perry Mason.

  • 1888

    S.Y. Agnon, Israeli writer (The Day Before Yesterday).

  • 1887

    Bernard Law Montgomery, British field marshal who defeated Rommel in North Africa and led Allied troops from D-Day to the end of World War II.

  • Marcus Garvey, Jamaican-born black nationalist who advocated the departure of African-Americans back to Africa.

  • 1886

    At a Christmas party, Sam Starr (husband to infamous outlaw queen Belle Starr) shoots his old enemy Frank West, but is fatally wounded himself.

  • Twenty African Americans are killed in the Carrollton Massacre in Mississippi.

  • 1885

    The Serbian Army, with Russian support, invades Bulgaria.

  • Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), Danish writer (Out of Africa).

  • 1884

    John Joseph Montgomery makes the first glider flight in Otay, Calif.

  • 1883

    William Carlos Williams, poet, playwright, essayist and writer who won a Pulitzer prize for Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems.

  • 1882

    Samuel Goldwyn, American movie mogul who helped start MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer).

  • Igor Stravinsky, Russian-born U.S. composer (The Rite of Spring, The Firebird).

  • 1881

    Frederick Douglass is appointed recorder of deeds for Washington, D.C.

  • 1880

    Carl Van Vechten, writer.

  • 1879

    Andrew “Rube” Foster, father of the Negro baseball leagues.

  • 1877

    Russia launches a surprise night attack that overruns Turkish forces at Kars, Armenia.

  • Brigadier General Alfred Terry meets with Sitting Bull in Canada to discuss the Indians’ return to the United States.

  • 1876

    General George Crook‘s command is attacked and bested on the Rosebud River by 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Crazy Horse.

  • 1875

    The first Kentucky Derby is run in Louisville.

  • The game “snooker” is invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain.

  • 1874

    Thomas J. Watson Sr., U.S. industrialist.

  • 1872

    George M. Hoover begins selling whiskey in Dodge City, Kansas–a town which had previously been “dry.”

  • 1871

    James Weldon Johnson, African-American poet and novelist (The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man).

  • 1869

    The Suez Canal is formally opened.

  • 1868

    The Battle of Beecher’s Island begins, in which Major George “Sandy” Forsyth and 50 volunteers hold off 500 Sioux and Cheyenne in eastern Colorado.

  • The first postage stamp canceling machine patent is issued.

  • 1866

    Erik Alfred Leslie Satie, French composer.

  • Ernest Henry Starling, British physiologist.

  • 1865

    Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination.

  • The South Carolina capital city, Columbia, is destroyed by fire as Major General William Tecumseh Sherman marches through.

  • 1864

  • General Ulysses Grant bans the trading of prisoners.

  • A(ndrew) B(arton) “Banjo” Paterson, Australian poet and journalist.

  • The Confederate submarine Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

  • 1863

    General Ulysses S. Grant is named overall Union Commander of the West.

  • Union gunboats attack Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, for the first time.

  • On the way to Gettysburg, Union and Confederate forces skirmish at Point of Rocks, Maryland.

  • Union General Ulysses Grant continues his push towards Vicksburg at the Battle of the Big Black River Bridge.

  • David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister during World War I.

  • 1862

    Union General Ambrose Burnside marches north out of Washington, D.C., to begin the Fredericksburg campaign.

  • The Battle of Antietam in Maryland, the bloodiest day in U.S. history, commences. Fighting in the corn field, Bloody Lane and Burnside’s Bridge rages all day as the Union and Confederate armies suffer a combined 26,293 casualties.

  • 1861

    The Stonewall Brigade begins to dismantle Dam No. 5 of the C&O Canal.

  • President Abraham Lincoln witnesses Dr. Thaddeus Lowe demonstrate the use of a hot-air balloon.

  • Virginia becomes the eighth state to secede from the Union.

  • 1860

    Anton Chekhov, Russian playwright and short story writer famous for The Seagull and Three Sisters.

  • 1859

    Childe Hassam, American impressionist painter and illustrator.

  • 1856

    The Republican Party opens its first national convention in Philadelphia.

  • 1854

    The Red Turban revolt breaks out in Guangdong, China.

  • 1852

    At the Sand River Convention, the British recognize the independence of the Transvaal Board.

  • 1849

    Composer and pianist Frederic Chopin dies in Paris of tuberculosis at the age of 39.

  • 1848

    Austrian General Alfred Windisch-Gratz crushes a Czech uprising in Prague.

  • 1846

    Kate Greenway, painter and illustrator (Mother Goose).

  • 1842

    A grim abolitionist meeting is held in Marlboro Chapel, Boston, after the imprisonment of a mulatto named George Latimer, one of the first fugitive slaves to be apprehended in Massachusetts.

  • 1836

    Joseph Norman Lockyer, British astronomer and discoverer of helium.

  • 1833

    The first steam ship to cross the Atlantic entirely on its own power, the Canadian ship Royal William, begins her journey from Nova Scotia to The Isle of Wight.

  • 1832

    Daniel Conway Moncure, U.S. clergyman, author, abolitionist

  • 1828

    Patrick R. Cleburne, Confederate general.

  • 1824

    Russia abandons all North American claims south of 54′ 40′.

  • 1821

    Alexander Gardner, American photographer who documented the Civil War and the West.

  • Andrew Jackson becomes the governor of Florida.

  • 1820

    Alexander Cartwright, sportsman, developed baseball.

  • 1819

    Simon Bolivar the “liberator” proclaims Columbia a republic.

  • 1815

    Napoleon Bonaparte arrives at the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he has been banished by the Allies.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte surrenders to the British at Rochefort, France.

  • 1814

    Denmark cedes Norway to Sweden.

  • 1812

    Napoleon Bonaparte‘s army defeats the Russians at the Battle of Smolensk during the Russian retreat to Moscow.

  • 1808

    Bayonne Decree by Napoleon Bonaparte of France orders seizure of U.S. ships.

  • 1807

    John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet, abolitionist, reformer and founder of the Liberal Party.

  • 1801

    The U.S. fleet arrives in Tripoli.

  • The House of Representatives breaks an electoral college tie and chooses Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr.

  • 1800

    The Sixth Congress (2nd session) convenes for the first time in Washington, D.C.

  • 1799

    Ottoman forces, supported by the British, capture Aboukir, Egypt from the French.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte incorporates Italy into his empire.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte and his army reach Mediterranean seaport of St. Jean d’Acra, only to find British warships ready to break his siege of the town.

  • 1796

    Napoleon Bonaparte defeats an Italian army near the Alpone River, Italy.

  • President George Washington delivers his “Farewell Address” to Congress before concluding his second term in office.

  • 1792

    Merchants form the New York Stock Exchange at 70 Wall Street.

  • 1791

    National Guard troops open fire on a crowd of demonstrators in Paris.

  • 1787

    The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia approves the constitution for the United States of America.

  • 1786

    Davy Crockett, American frontiersman and politician who died in the defense of the Alamo.

  • 1785

    France limits the importation of goods from Britain.

  • 1778

    Humphrey Davy, English chemist who discovered the anesthetic effect of laughing gas.

  • 1777

    British Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne surrenders 5,000 men at Saratoga, N.Y.

  • 1776

    British forces evacuate from Boston to Nova Scotia.

  • 1775

    The British take Bunker Hill outside of Boston, after a costly battle.

  • 1774

    Raphaelle Peale, U.S. painter

  • 1773

    Captain James Cook becomes the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle.

  • 1766

    Britain repeals the Stamp Act.

  • 1763

    John Jacob Astor, American fur trader and entrepreneur.

  • 1762

    Peter III of Russia is murdered and his wife, Catherine II, takes the throne.

  • 1758

    Frances Williams, the first African-American to graduate from a college in the western hemisphere, publishes a collection of Latin poems.

  • 1756

  • 1755

    Louis XVIII, King of France.

  • 1749

    Edward Jenner, physician.

  • 1746

    Charles Edward Stuart, the young pretender, defeats the government forces at the battle of Falkirk in Scotland.

  • 1743

    Marquis Marie Jean de Condorcet, French mathematician and philosopher, a leading thinker in the Enlightenment.

  • By the Treaty of Abo, Sweden cedes southeast Finland to Russia, ending Sweden’s failed war with Russia.

  • 1742

    William Hooper, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

  • 1741

    Samuel Chase, signer of the Declaration of Independence

  • 1720

    Spain signs the Treaty of the Hague with the Quadruple Alliance ending a war that was begun in 1718.

  • 1706

    Benjamin Franklin, statesman, diplomat, scientist and inventor who helped draft the Declaration of Independence and wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac.

  • 1703

    John Wesley, English evangelist and theologian, founder of the Methodist movement.

  • 1691

    Maine and Plymouth are incorporated in Massachusetts.

  • 1681

    Louis XIV sends an expedition to aid James II in Ireland. As a result, England declares war on France.

  • 1676

    Frederick I, king of Sweden

  • 1674

    Isaac Watts, English minister and hymn writer.

  • 1636

    Henrique Dias, Brazilian general, wins a decisive battle against the Dutch in Brazil.

  • 1630

    Italian Jesuit Niccolo Zucchi sees the belts on Jupiter’s surface.

  • 1622

    Henry Vaughan, poet

  • 1601

    The Treaty of Lyons ends a short war between France and Savoy.

  • 1598

    Boris Godunov, the boyar of Tarar origin, is elected czar in succession to his brother-in-law Fydor.

  • 1579

    Sir Francis Drake claims San Francisco Bay for England.

  • 1558

    The Church of England is re-established.

  • Queen Elizabeth ascends to the throne of England.

  • 1540

    Afghan chief Sher Khan defeats Mongul Emperor Humayun at Kanauj.

  • 1535

    Antonio Mendoza is appointed first viceroy of New Spain.

  • 1529

    Henry VIII of England strips Thomas Wolsey of his office for failing to secure an annulment of his marriage.

  • 1524

    Present-day New York Harbor is discovered by Giovanni da Verrazzano.

  • 1504

    Pius V, Pope 1566-1572.

  • 1492

    Christopher Columbus signs a contract with Spain to find a western route to the Indies.

  • 1454

    At a grand feast, Philip the Good of Burgundy takes the “vow of the pheasant,” by which he swears to fight the Turks.

  • 1453

    France defeats England at Castillon, France, ending the Hundred Years’ War.

  • 1444

    Sandro Botticelli, painter (The Birth of Venus).

  • 1398

    Tamerlane’s Mongols destroy the army of Mahmud Tughluk, Sultan of Delhi, at Panipat.

  • 1346

    English forces defeat the Scots under David II during the Battle of Neville’s Cross, Scotland.

  • 1244

    The Sixth Crusade ends when an Egyptian-Khwarismian force almost annihilates the Frankish army at Gaza.

  • 1239

    Edward I (Longshanks), King of England (1272-1307).

  • 858

    Benedict III ends his reign as Catholic Pope.

  • 375

    Enraged by the insolence of barbarian envoys, Valentinian, the Emperor of the West, dies of apoplexy in Pannonia in Central Europe.

  • 362

    Emperor Julian issues an edict banning Christians from teaching in Syria.