1772 – The Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is founded in San Luis Obispo, California.
1774 – Massachusetts Bay colonists rise up in the bloodless Powder Alarm.
1836 – Narcissa Whitman, one of the first English-speaking white women to settle west of the Rocky Mountains, arrives at Walla Walla, Washington.
1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Chantilly: Confederate Army troops defeat a group of retreating Union Army troops in Chantilly, Virginia.
1864 – American Civil War: The Confederate Army General John Bell Hood orders the evacuation of Atlanta, ending a four-month siege by General William Tecumseh Sherman.
1878 – Emma Nutt becomes the world's first female telephone operator when she is recruited by Alexander Graham Bell to the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company.
1894 – Over 400 people die in the Great Hinckley Fire, a forest fire in Hinckley, Minnesota.
1897 – The Tremont Street Subway in Boston opens, becoming the first underground rapid transit system in North America.
1914 – The last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, dies in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.
1920 – The Fountain of Time opens as a tribute to the 100 years of peace between the United States and Great Britain following the Treaty of Ghent.
1939 – World War II: Nazi Germany and Slovakia invade Poland, beginning the European phase of World War II.
1939 – General George C. Marshall becomes Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
1939 – Adolf Hitler signs an order to begin the systematic euthanasia of mentally ill and disabled people.
1951 – The United States, Australia and New Zealand sign a mutual defense pact, called the ANZUS Treaty.
1952 – The Old Man and the Sea, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Ernest Hemingway, is first published.
1972 – In Reykjavík, Iceland, American Bobby Fischer beats Russian Boris Spassky to become the world chess champion.
1974 – The SR-71 Blackbird sets (and holds) the record for flying from New York to London in the time of 1 hour, 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds at a speed of 1,435.587 miles per hour (2,310.353 km/h).
1979 – The American space probe Pioneer 11 becomes the first spacecraft to visit Saturn when it passes the planet at a distance of 21,000 kilometres (13,000 mi).
1982 – The United States Air Force Space Command is founded.
1983 – Cold War: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a Soviet Union jet fighter when the commercial aircraft enters Soviet airspace. All 269 on board die, including Congressman Lawrence McDonald.
1985 – A joint American–French expedition locates the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.
1795 – James Gordon Bennett, Sr., American publisher, founded the New York Herald (d. 1872)
1866 – James J. Corbett, American boxer and actor (d. 1933)
1875 – Edgar Rice Burroughs, American soldier and author (d. 1950)
1922 – Yvonne De Carlo, Canadian-American actress and singer (d. 2007)
1923 – Rocky Marciano, American boxer and actor (d. 1969)
1937 – Allen Weinstein, American historian and academic (d. 2015)
1938 – Alan Dershowitz, American lawyer and author
1944 – Leonard Slatkin, American conductor and composer
1957 – Gloria Estefan, Cuban-American singer-songwriter and actress
1966 – Ken Levine, American video game designer, co-founded Irrational Games
1838 – William Clark, American soldier, explorer, and politician, 4th Governor of Missouri Territory (b. 1770)
2006 – Nellie Connally, American wife of John Connally (b. 1919)
2014 – Joseph Shivers, American chemist and academic, developed spandex (b. 1920)
2015 – Richard G. Hewlett, American historian and author (b. 1923)
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