1778 – American Revolutionary War: In Paris the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce are signed by the United States and France signaling official recognition of the new republic.
1788 – Massachusetts becomes the sixth state to ratify the United States Constitution.
1815 – New Jersey grants the first American railroad charter to John Stevens.
1820 – The first 86 African American immigrants sponsored by the American Colonization Society depart New York to start a settlement in present-day Liberia.
1843 – The first minstrel show in the United States, The Virginia Minstrels, opens (Bowery Amphitheatre in New York City).
1862 – American Civil War: Forces under the command of Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew H. Foote give the Union its first victory of the war, capturing Fort Henry, Tennessee in the Battle of Fort Henry.
1899 – Spanish–American War: The Treaty of Paris, a peace treaty between the United States and Spain, is ratified by the United States Senate.
1919 – The five-day Seattle General Strike begins.
1922 – The Washington Naval Treaty is signed in Washington, D.C., limiting the naval armaments of United States, Britain, Japan, France, and Italy.
1951 – The Broker, a Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train derails near Woodbridge Township, New Jersey. The accident kills 85 people and injures over 500 more. The wreck is one of the worst rail disasters in American history.
1959 – Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments files the first patent for an integrated circuit.
1959 – At Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile is accomplished.
1976 – In testimony before a United States Senate subcommittee, Lockheed Corporation president Carl Kotchian admits that the company had paid out approximately $3 million in bribes to the office of Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.
1978 – The Blizzard of 1978, one of the worst Nor'easters in New England history, hit the region, with sustained winds of 65 mph and snowfall of four inches an hour.
1988 – Michael Jordan makes his signature slam dunk from the free throw line inspiring Air Jordan and the Jumpman logo.
1996 – Willamette Valley Flood: Floods in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, United States, causes over US$500 million in property damage throughout the Pacific Northwest.
1998 – Washington National Airport is renamed Ronald Reagan National Airport.
1756 – Aaron Burr, American colonel and politician, 3rd Vice President of the United States (d. 1836)
1833 – J. E. B. Stuart, American general (d. 1864)
1895 – Babe Ruth, American baseball player and coach (d. 1948)
1911 – Ronald Reagan, American actor and politician, 40th President of the United States (d. 2004)
1917 – Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and singer
1940 – Tom Brokaw, American journalist and author
1942 – Sarah Brady, American activist and author (d. 2015)
1950 – Natalie Cole, American singer-songwriter and actress (d. 2015)
1976 – Vince Guaraldi, American singer-songwriter and pianist (b. 1928)
1981 – Hugo Montenegro, American composer and conductor (b. 1925)
1993 – Arthur Ashe, American tennis player and sportscaster (b. 1943)
1994 – Jack Kirby, American author and illustrator (b. 1917)
1995 – James Merrill, American poet and playwright (b. 1926)
1998 – Carl Wilson, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1946)
2012 – David Rosenhan, American psychologist and academic (b. 1929)
2012 – Janice E. Voss, American engineer and astronaut (b. 1956)
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