1765 - Eli Whitney was born in Westboro, MA. Whitney invented the cotton gin and developed the concept of mass-production of interchangeable parts.
1776 - George Washington's retreating army in the American Revolution crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.
1854 - Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The theory holds that Mary, mother of Jesus, was free of original sin from the moment she was conceived.
1863 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln announced his plan for the Reconstruction of the South.
1863 - Tom King of England defeated American John Heenan and became the first world heavyweight champion.
1886 - At a convention of union leaders in Columbus, OH, the American Federation of Labor was founded.
1941 - The United States entered World War II when it declared war against Japan. The act came one day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Britain and Canada also declared war on Japan.
1949 - The Chinese Nationalist government moved from the Chinese mainland to Formosa due to Communists pressure.
1952 - On the show "I Love Lucy," a pregnancy was acknowledged in a TV show for the first time.
1953 - Los Angeles became the third largest city in the United States.
1962 - Workers of the International Typographical Union began striking and closed nine New York City newspapers. The strike lasted 114 days and ended April 1, 1963.
1980 - Zimbabwe’s manpower minister, Edgar Tekere, was found guilty in the killing of a white farmer. He was freed under a law that protected ministers acting to suppress terrorism.
1982 - Norman D. Mayer demanding an end to nuclear weapons held the Washington Monument hostage. He threatened to blow it up with explosives he claimed were inside a van. 10 hours later he was shot to death by police.
1984 - In Roanoke, Virginia, a jury found Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt innocent of libeling Reverend Jerry Falwell with a parody advertisement. However Falwell was awarded $200,000 for emotional distress.
1987 - U.S. President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty agreeing to destroy their nations' arsenals of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
1987 - The "intefadeh" (Arabic for uprising) by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories began.
1989 - Communist leaders in Czechoslovakia offered to surrender their control over the government and accept a minority role in a coalition Cabinet.
1991 - Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine declared the Soviet national government to be dead. They forged a new alliance to be known as the Commonwealth of Independent States. The act was denounced by Russian President Gorbachev as unconstitutional.
1992 - Americans got to see live television coverage of U.S. troops landing on the beaches of Somalia during Operation Restore Hope. (Due to the time difference, it was December 9 in Somalia.)
1993 - U.S. President Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.
1994 - Bosnian Serbs released dozens of hostage peacekeepers, but continued to detain about 300 others.
1994 - In Los Angeles, 12 alternate jurors were chosen for the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
1997 - The second largest bank was created with the announcement that Union Bank Switzerland and the Swiss Bank Corporation would merge. The combined assets were more than $590 billion.
1997 - Jenny Shipley was sworn in as the first female prime minister of New Zealand.
1998 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police could not search a person or their cars after ticketing for a routine traffic violation.
1998 - The FBI opened its files on Frank Sinatra to the public. The file contained over 1,300 pages.
1998 - Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi's first of eight babies was born. The other seven were delivered 12 days later.
1998 - AT&T Corp. announced that it was buying IBM's data networking business for $5 billion cash.
1998 - The first female ice hockey game in Olympic history was played. Finland beat Sweden 6-0.
1999 - In Memphis, TN, a jury found that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been the victim of a vast murder conspiracy, not a lone assassin.
1999 - Russia and Belarus agreed in principle to form an economic and political confederation.
2000 - Mario Lemieux announced to the Pittsburgh Penguins that he planned to return to the National Hockey League (NHL) as a player at age 35. He would be the first modern owner-player in U.S. pro sports.