1500 – The fleet of Pedro Álvares Cabral leaves Lisbon for the Indies. The fleet will discover Brazil which lies within boundaries granted to Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas.
1841 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the United States v. The Amistad case that captive Africans who had seized control of the ship carrying them had been taken into slavery illegally.
1842 – The first documented discovery of gold in California occurs at Rancho San Francisco, six years before the California Gold Rush.
1847 – Mexican–American War: The first large-scale amphibious assault in U.S. history is launched in the Siege of Veracruz.
1862 – American Civil War: The USS Monitor and CSS Virginia fight to a draw in the Battle of Hampton Roads, the first battle between two ironclad warships.
1910 – The Westmoreland County coal strike, involving 15,000 coal miners represented by the United Mine Workers, begins.
1916 – Mexican Revolution: Pancho Villa leads nearly 500 Mexican raiders in an attack against the border town of Columbus, New Mexico.
1933 – Great Depression: President Franklin D. Roosevelt submits the Emergency Banking Act to Congress, the first of his New Deal policies.
1944 – World War II: Japanese troops counter-attack American forces on Hill 700 in Bougainville in a battle that would last five days.
1945 – World War II: The first nocturnal incendiary attack on Tokyo inflicts damage comparable to that inflicted on Hiroshima five months later.
1954 – McCarthyism: CBS television broadcasts the See It Now episode, "A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy", produced by Fred Friendly.
1957 – A magnitude 8.3 earthquake in the Andreanof Islands, Alaska triggers a Pacific-wide tsunami causing extensive damage to Hawaii and Oahu.
1959 – The Barbie doll makes its debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York.
1967 – Trans World Airlines Flight 553, a Douglas DC-9-15, crashes in a field in Concord Township, Ohio following a mid-air collision with a Beechcraft Baron, killing 26.
1977 – The Hanafi Siege: In a thirty-nine-hour standoff, armed Hanafi Muslims seize three Washington, D.C., buildings, killing two and taking 149 hostage.
1989 – Financially troubled Eastern Air Lines files for bankruptcy.
1997 – Comet Hale–Bopp: Observers in China, Mongolia and eastern Siberia are treated to a rare double feature as an eclipse permits Hale-Bopp to be seen during the day.
2011 – Space Shuttle Discovery makes its final landing after 39 flights.
1454 – Amerigo Vespucci, Italian cartographer and explorer (d. 1512)
1824 – Amasa Leland Stanford, American businessman and politician, founded Stanford University (d. 1893)
1918 – George Lincoln Rockwell, American sailor and politician, founded the American Nazi Party (d. 1967)
1918 – Mickey Spillane, American author and actor (d. 2006)
1934 – Yuri Gagarin, Russian colonel, pilot, and astronaut (d. 1968)
1941 – Ernesto Miranda, American, inspired the Miranda rights (d. 1976)
1987 – Bow Wow, American rapper and actor
1925 – Willard Metcalf, American painter and academic (b. 1858)
1989 – Robert Mapplethorpe, American photographer (b. 1946)
1996 – George Burns, American actor and singer (b. 1896)
1997 – Christopher George Latore Wallace AKA The Notorious B.I.G., American rapper (b. 1972)
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