1790 – The Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, petitions U.S. Congress for the abolition of slavery.
1794 – First session of United States Senate opens to the public.
1812 – Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry "gerrymanders" for the first time.
1861 – American Civil War: The United States House of Representatives unanimously passes a resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state.
1937 – A sit-down strike ends when General Motors recognizes the United Auto Workers.
1943 – World War II: General Dwight D. Eisenhower is selected to command the allied armies in Europe.
1953 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower refuses a clemency appeal for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
1971 – Eighty-seven countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union, sign the Seabed Arms Control Treaty outlawing nuclear weapons on the ocean floor in international waters.
1973 – Vietnam War: First release of American prisoners of war from Vietnam takes place.
1979 – The Iranian Revolution establishes an Islamic theocracy under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
1981 – Around 100,000 US gallons (380 m3) of radioactive coolant leak into the containment building of TVA Sequoyah 1 nuclear plant in Tennessee, contaminating eight workers.
1990 – Buster Douglas, a 42:1 underdog, knocks out Mike Tyson in ten rounds at Tokyo to win boxing's world Heavyweight title and cause the largest upset in sports history.
1997 – Space Shuttle Discovery is launched on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
1802 – Lydia Maria Child, American journalist, author, and activist (d. 1880)
1812 – Alexander H. Stephens, American lawyer and politician, Vice President of the Confederate States of America (d. 1883)
1833 – Melville Fuller, American lawyer and jurist, 8th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1910)
1839 – Josiah Willard Gibbs, American physicist, mathematician, and academic (d. 1903)
1847 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, developed the light bulb and phonograph (d. 1931)
1855 – Ellen Day Hale, American painter and author (d. 1940)
1917 – Sidney Sheldon, American author and screenwriter (d. 2007)
1936 – Burt Reynolds, American actor and director
1964 – Sarah Palin, American journalist and politician, 9th Governor of Alaska
1940 – Ellen Day Hale, American painter and author (b. 1855)
1959 – Marshall Teague, American race car driver (b. 1922)
1963 – Sylvia Plath, American author and poet (b. 1932)
2006 – Peter Benchley, American author and screenwriter (b. 1940)
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