1585 – The expedition organised by Sir Walter Raleigh departs England for Roanoke Island (now in North Carolina) to establish the Roanoke Colony.
1682 – Robert Cavelier de La Salle discovers the mouth of the Mississippi River, claims it for France and names it Louisiana.
1782 – American War of Independence: Battle of the Saintes begins.
1865 – American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war.
1867 – Alaska Purchase: By a vote of 37-2, the United States Senate gave its advice and consent to the ratification of a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska.
1939 – Marian Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial, after being denied the right to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Hall.
1942 – World War II: The Battle of Bataan/Bataan Death March: United States forces surrender on the Bataan Peninsula. The Japanese Navy launches an air raid on Trincomalee in Ceylon (Sri Lanka); Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Vampire are sunk off the island's east coast.
1945 – The United States Atomic Energy Commission is formed.
1947 – The Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes kill 181 and injure 970 in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
1947 – The Journey of Reconciliation, the first interracial Freedom Ride begins through the upper South in violation of Jim Crow laws. The riders wanted enforcement of the United States Supreme Court's 1946 Irene Morgan decision that banned racial segregation in interstate travel.
1959 – Project Mercury: NASA announces the selection of the United States' first seven astronauts, whom the news media quickly dub the "Mercury Seven".
1965 – Astrodome opens. First indoor baseball game is played.
1969 – The "Chicago Eight" plead not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
1992 – A U.S. Federal Court finds former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega guilty of drug and racketeering charges. He is sentenced to 30 years in prison.
2003 – Iraq War: Baghdad falls to American forces; Iraqis turn on symbols of their former leader Saddam Hussein, pulling down a grand statue of him and tearing it to pieces.
1898 – Curly Lambeau, American football player and coach (d. 1965)
1898 – Paul Robeson, American singer, actor, and activist (d. 1976)
1932 – Jim Fowler, American zoologist and television host
1945 – Peter Gammons, American journalist
1979 – Keshia Knight Pulliam, American actress
1959 – Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect, designed the Price Tower and Fallingwater (b. 1867)
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