1853 – President-elect of the United States Franklin Pierce and his family are involved in a train wreck near Andover, Massachusetts. Pierce's 11-year-old son Benjamin is killed in the crash.
1893 – The Washington National Cathedral is chartered by Congress. The charter is signed by President Benjamin Harrison.
1912 – New Mexico is admitted to the Union as the 47th U.S. state.
1930 – The first diesel-engined automobile trip is completed, from Indianapolis, Indiana, to New York, New York.
1931 – Thomas Edison signs his last patent application.
1941 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Four Freedoms speech in the State of the Union address.
1947 – Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.
1951 – Korean War: An estimated 200–1,300 South Korean communist sympathizers are slaughtered in what becomes the Ganghwa massacre.
1960 – National Airlines Flight 2511 is destroyed in mid-air by a bomb, while en route from New York City to Miami.
1967 – Vietnam War: United States Marine Corps and ARVN troops launch "Operation Deckhouse Five" in the Mekong River delta.
1974 – In response to the 1973 oil crisis, daylight saving time commences nearly four months early in the United States.
1994 – Nancy Kerrigan is clubbed on the knee at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit.
2005 – American Civil Rights Movement: Edgar Ray Killen is arrested as a suspect in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers.
2005 – A train collision in Graniteville, South Carolina, releases about 60 tons of chlorine gas.
1799 – Jedediah Smith, American hunter, explorer, and author (d. 1831)
1808 – Joseph Pitty Couthouy, American oncologist and paleontologist (d. 1864)
1811 – Charles Sumner, American lawyer and politician (d. 1874)
1842 – Clarence King, American geologist, mountaineer, and critic (d. 1901)
1878 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (d. 1967)
1880 – Tom Mix, American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 1940)
1882 – Sam Rayburn, American lawyer and politician, 48th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (d. 1961)
1910 – Wright Morris, American author and photographer (d. 1998)
1912 – Danny Thomas, American actor, comedian, producer and humanitarian; founded St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (d. 1991)
1924 – Earl Scruggs, American banjo player (Flatt and Scruggs) (d. 2012)
1925 – John DeLorean, American engineer and businessman, founded the DeLorean Motor Company (d. 2005)
1957 – Nancy Lopez, American golfer and sportscaster
1965 – Muhammed al-Ahari, American author and scholar
1970 – Julie Chen, American television journalist and producer
1970 – Gabrielle Reece, American volleyball player, sportscaster, and actress
1971 – Karin Slaughter, American author
1896 – Thomas W. Knox, American journalist and author (b. 1835)
1919 – Theodore Roosevelt, American colonel and politician, 26th President of the United States (b. 1858)
1921 – Devil Anse Hatfield, American guerrilla leader (b. 1839)
1944 – Ida Tarbell, American journalist, author, and educator (b. 1857)
1993 – Dizzy Gillespie, American singer-songwriter and trumpet player (b. 1917)
2006 – Lou Rawls, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (b. 1933)
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