1614 – In Virginia, Native American Pocahontas marries English colonist John Rolfe.
1621 – The Mayflower sets sail from Plymouth, Massachusetts on a return trip to England.
1792 – United States President George Washington exercises his authority to veto a bill, the first time this power is used in the United States.
1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Yorktown begins.
1922 – The American Birth Control League, forerunner of Planned Parenthood, is incorporated.
1923 – Firestone Tire and Rubber Company begins production of balloon-tires.
1933 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs two executive orders: 6101 to establish the Civilian Conservation Corps, and 6102 "forbidding the Hoarding of Gold Coin, Gold Bullion, and Gold Certificates" by U.S. citizens.
1943 – World War II: American bomber aircraft accidentally cause more than 900 civilian deaths, including 209 children, and 1,300 wounded among the civilian population of the Belgian town of Mortsel. Their target was the Erla factory one kilometer from the residential area hit.
1949 – Fireside Theater debuts on television.
1949 – A fire in a hospital in Effingham, Illinois, kills 77 people and leads to nationwide fire code improvements in the United States.
1951 – Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are sentenced to death for spying for the Soviet Union.
1969 – Vietnam War: Massive antiwar demonstrations occur in many U.S. cities.
1991 – An ASA EMB 120 crashes in Brunswick, Georgia, killing all 23 aboard including Sen. John Tower and Astronaut Sonny Carter.
1994 – American musician Kurt Cobain commits suicide.
2010 – Twenty-nine coal miners are killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia.
1824 – Moses Dickson, African-American abolitionist, soldier, minister and founder of The Knights of Liberty (d. 1901)
1839 – Robert Smalls, American pilot and politician (d. 1915)
1856 – Booker T. Washington, American educator, essayist and historian (d. 1915)
1937 – Colin Powell, American general and politician, 65th United States Secretary of State
1949 – Judith Resnik, American engineer and astronaut (d. 1986)
1951 – Dean Kamen, American inventor and businessman, founded Segway Inc.
1964 – Douglas MacArthur, American general (b. 1880)
1967 – Hermann Joseph Muller, American geneticist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1890)
1975 – Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general and politician, 1st President of the Republic of China (b. 1887)
1976 – Howard Hughes, American pilot, engineer, and director (b. 1905)
1982 – Abe Fortas, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1910)
1991 – Sonny Carter, American soccer player, physician, and astronaut (b. 1947)
1991 – John Tower, American soldier, academic, and politician (b. 1925)
1992 – Sam Walton, American businessman, founded Walmart and Sam's Club (b. 1918)
1994 – Kurt Cobain, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1967)
1997 – Allen Ginsberg, American poet (b. 1926)
2008 – Charlton Heston, American actor, director, and political activist (b. 1923)
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