1850 – The first National Women's Rights Convention begins in Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.
1861 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus in Washington, D.C., for all military-related cases.
1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Westport: Union forces under General Samuel R. Curtis defeat Confederate troops led by General Sterling Price at Westport, near Kansas City.
1915 – Women's suffrage: In New York City, 25,000–33,000 women march on Fifth Avenue to advocate their right to vote.
1929 – Great Depression: After a steady decline in stock market prices since a peak in September, the New York Stock Exchange begins to show signs of panic.
1935 – Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at a saloon in Newark, New Jersey in what will become known as The Chophouse Massacre.
1942 – World War II: Second Battle of El Alamein: At El Alamein in northern Egypt, the British Eighth Army under Field Marshal Montgomery begins a critical offensive to expel the Axis armies from Egypt.
1942 – All 12 passengers and crewmen aboard an American Airlines DC-3 airliner are killed when it is struck by a U.S. Army Air Forces bomber near Palm Springs, California. Amongst the victims is award-winning composer and songwriter Ralph Rainger ("Thanks for the Memory", "Love in Bloom", "Blue Hawaii").
1942 – World War II: The Battle for Henderson Field begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign and ends on October 26.
1944 – World War II: Battle of Leyte Gulf: The largest naval battle in history begins in the Philippines.
1946 – The United Nations General Assembly convenes for the first time, at an auditorium in Flushing, Queens, New York City.
1958 – The Smurfs, a fictional race of blue dwarves, later popularized in a Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon series, appear for the first time in the story La flute à six schtroumpfs, a Johan and Peewit adventure by Peyo, which is serialized in the weekly Spirou magazine.
1965 – Vietnam War: The 1st Cavalry Division (United States) (Airmobile), in conjunction with South Vietnamese forces, launches a new operation seeking to destroy North Vietnamese forces in Pleiku in the II Corps Tactical Zone (the Central Highlands).
1972 – Operation Linebacker, a US bombing campaign against North Vietnam in response to its Easter Offensive, ends after five months.
1973 – The Watergate scandal: US President Richard M. Nixon agrees to turn over subpoenaed audio tapes of his Oval Office conversations.
1983 – Lebanese Civil War: The U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut is hit by a truck bomb, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. A French army barracks in Lebanon is also hit that same morning, killing 58 troops.
1762 – Samuel Morey, American engineer (d. 1843)
1790 – Chauncey Allen Goodrich, American minister, lexicographer, and educator (d. 1860)
1805 – John Russell Bartlett, American linguist and historian (d. 1886)
1835 – Adlai Stevenson I, American lawyer and politician, 23rd Vice President of the United States (d. 1914)
1893 – Gummo Marx, American actor and agent (d. 1977)
1904 – Harvey Penick, American golfer and coach (d. 1995)
1905 – Gertrude Ederle, American swimmer (d. 2003)
1925 – Johnny Carson, American comedian and talk show host (d. 2005)
1935 – Chi-Chi Rodríguez, Puerto Rican-American golfer
1957 – Martin Luther King III, American activist
1959 – Nancy Grace, American lawyer and journalist
1959 – "Weird Al" Yankovic, American singer-songwriter, comedian, and actor
1972 – Tiffeny Milbrett, American soccer player
1590 – Bernardino de Sahagún, Spanish-born Franciscan, compiler of the Florentine Codex of Aztecs history in Mexico (b. 1499)
1935 – Charles Demuth, American painter and educator (b. 1883)
1939 – Zane Grey, American dentist and author (b. 1872)
1942 – Ralph Rainger, American pianist and composer (b. 1901)
1950 – Al Jolson, Lithuanian-American actor and singer (b. 1886)
1964 – Frank Luther Mott, American historian and journalist (b. 1886)
1978 – Maybelle Carter, American singer and autoharp player (Carter Family) (b. 1909)
1983 – Jessica Savitch, American journalist (b. 1947)
2004 – Robert Merrill, American actor and singer (b. 1919)
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