1541 – King Francis I of France gives Jean-François Roberval a commission to settle the province of New France (Canada) and provide for the spread of the "Holy Catholic faith".
1777 – American Revolutionary War: New Connecticut (present-day Vermont) declares its independence.
1782 – Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris goes before the U.S. Congress to recommend establishment of a national mint and decimal coinage.
1815 – War of 1812: American frigate USS President, commanded by Commodore Stephen Decatur, is captured by a squadron of four British frigates.
1844 – University of Notre Dame receives its charter from the state of Indiana.
1865 – American Civil War: Fort Fisher in North Carolina falls to the Union, thus cutting off the last major seaport of the Confederacy.
1870 – A political cartoon for the first time symbolizes the Democratic Party with a donkey ("A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion" by Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly).
1889 – The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, is incorporated in Atlanta.
1892 – James Naismith publishes the rules of basketball.
1908 – The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority becomes the first Greek-letter organization founded and established by African American college women.
1910 – Construction ends on the Buffalo Bill Dam in Wyoming, United States, which was the highest dam in the world at the time, at 325 ft (99 m).
1919 – Great Molasses Flood: A large molasses tank in Boston, Massachusetts, bursts and a wave of molasses rushes through the streets, killing 21 people and injuring 150 others.
1936 – The first building to be completely covered in glass, built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, is completed in Toledo, Ohio.
1943 – The world's largest office building, The Pentagon, is dedicated in Arlington, Virginia.
1947 – The brutalized corpse of Elizabeth Short (The "Black Dahlia") is found in Los Angeles' Leimert Park.
1951 – Ilse Koch, "The Witch of Buchenwald", wife of the commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp, is sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in West Germany.
1967 – The first Super Bowl is played in Los Angeles. The Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 35–10.
1973 – Vietnam War: Citing progress in peace negotiations, President Richard Nixon announces the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam.
1976 – Gerald Ford's would-be assassin, Sara Jane Moore, is sentenced to life in prison.
1991 – The United Nations deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from occupied Kuwait expires, preparing the way for the start of Operation Desert Storm.
2001 – Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, goes online.
2009 – US Airways Flight 1549 makes an emergency landing in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York, New York. All passengers and crew members survive.
1716 – Philip Livingston, American merchant and politician (d. 1778)
1870 – Pierre S. du Pont, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1954)
1909 – Gene Krupa, American drummer, composer, and actor (d. 1973)
1929 – Martin Luther King, Jr., American minister and activist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1968)
1957 – Mario Van Peebles, American actor and director
1966 – Lisa Lisa, American singer and actress (Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam)
1969 – Huck Seed, American poker player
1970 – Shane McMahon, American wrestler and businessman
1876 – Eliza McCardle Johnson, American wife of Andrew Johnson, 18th First Lady of the United States (b. 1810)
1896 – Mathew Brady, American photographer and journalist (b. 1822)
1950 – Henry H. Arnold, American general (b. 1886)
1970 – William T. Piper, American engineer and businessman, founded Piper Aircraft (b. 1881)
1982 – Red Smith, American journalist (b. 1905)
1993 – Sammy Cahn, American songwriter (b. 1913)
2001 – Ted Mann, American businessman (b. 1916)
2008 – Robert V. Bruce, American historian, author, and academic (b. 1923)
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