1783 – The Kingdom of Great Britain signs a peace treaty with France and Spain, officially ending hostilities in the American Revolutionary War
1887 – The United States Senate allows the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base.
1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union is founded.
1929 – In Old Arizona, the first full-length talking motion picture filmed outdoors, is released.
1937 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Nance Garner are sworn in for their second terms as U.S. President and U.S. Vice President, the first occasion a Presidential Inauguration to take place on 20 January following the ratification of the 20th Amendment
1942 – World War II: At the Wannsee Conference held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, senior Nazi German officials discuss the implementation of the "Final Solution to the Jewish question".
1949 – Point Four Program a program for economic aid to poor countries announced by United States President Harry S. Truman in his inaugural address for a full term as President.
1954 – In the United States, the National Negro Network is established with 40 charter member radio stations.
1981 – Twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, Iran released 52 American hostages.
1986 – In the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated as a federal holiday for the first time.
1732 – Richard Henry Lee, American lawyer and politician, President of the Continental Congress (d. 1794)
1883 – Forrest Wilson, American journalist and author (d. 1942)
1888 – Lead Belly, American musician (d. 1949)
1894 – Harold Gray, American cartoonist, created Little Orphan Annie (d. 1968)
1896 – George Burns, American actor, comedian, and producer (d. 1996)
1920 – DeForest Kelley, American actor, singer, and screenwriter (d. 1999)
1930 – Buzz Aldrin, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut
1942 – Linda Moulton Howe, American journalist and producer
1956 – Bill Maher, American comedian, actor, and television host
1891 – Kalākaua of Hawaii (b. 1836)
1921 – Mary Watson Whitney, American astronomer and academic (b. 1847)
1947 – Josh Gibson, American baseball player (b. 1911)
1962 – Robinson Jeffers, American poet and philosopher (b. 1887)
1965 – Alan Freed, American radio host (b. 1922)
1984 – Johnny Weissmuller, American swimmer and actor (b. 1904)
2003 – Al Hirschfeld, American painter and illustrator (b. 1903)
2012 – Etta James, American singer-songwriter (b. 1938)
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