1520 - Martin Luther publicly burned the papal edict. The papacy demanded that he recant or face excommunication. Luther refused and was formally expelled from the church in January 1521.
1768 - The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in London by George III. Joshua Reynolds was its first president.
1817 - Mississippi was admitted to the Union as the 20th American state.
1830 - Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, MA. Only seven of her works were published while she was alive.
1845 - British civil engineer Robert Thompson patented the first pneumatic tires.
1851 - American librarian Melvil Dewey was born. He created the "Dewey Decimal Classification" system.
1869 - Women were granted the right to vote in the Wyoming Territory.
1898 - A treaty was signed in Paris that officially ended the Spanish-American War. Also, Cuba became independent of Spain.
1901 - The first Nobel prizes were awarded.
1906 - U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for helping mediate an end to the Russo-Japanese War.
1931 - Jane Addams became a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, she was the first American woman to do so.
1939 - The National Football League's attendance exeeded 1 million in a season for the first time.
1941 - Japan invaded the Philippines.
1941 - The Royal Naval battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk by Japanese aircraft in the Battle of Malaya.
1948 - The United Nations General Assembly adopted its Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
1950 - Dr. Ralph J. Bunche was presented the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the first African-American to receive the award. Bunche was awarded the prize for his efforts in mediation between Israel and neighboring Arab states.
1953 - Hugh Hefner published the first "Playboy" magazine with an investment of $7,600.
1958 - The first domestic passenger jet flight took place in the U.S. when 111 passengers flew from New York to Miami on a National Airlines Boeing 707.
1962 - Frank Gifford (New York Giants) was on the cover of "Sports Illustrated."
1964 - In Oslo, Norway, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the youngest person to receive the award.
1980 - South Carolina Representative John W. Jenretter resigned to avoid being expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives following his conviction on charges to the FBI's Abscam investigation.
1982 - The Law of the Sea Convention was signed by 118 countries in Montego Bay, Jamaica. 23 nations and the U.S. were excluded.
1983 - Raul Alfonsin was inaugurated as Argentina's first civilian president after nearly eight years of military rule.
1984 - South African Bishop Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize.
1990 - The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved Norplant, a long-acting contraceptive implant.
1991 - The play Revival "The Crucible" opened.
1992 - Oregon Senator Bob Packwood apologized for what he called "unwelcome and offensive" actions toward women. However, he refused to resign.
1993 - The crew of the space shuttle Endeavor deployed the repaired Hubble Space Telescope into Earth's orbit.
1994 - Advertising executive Thomas Mosser of North Caldwell, NJ, was killed by a mail bomb that was blamed on the Unabomber.
1994 - Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize. They pledged to pursue their mission of healing the Middle East.
1995 - The first U.S. Marines arrived in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo to join NATO soldiers sent to enforce peace in the former Yugoslavia.
1996 - South Africa's President Mandela signed into law a new democratic constitution, completing the country's transition from white-minority rule to a non-racial democracy.
1998 - Six astronauts opened the doors to the new international space station 250 miles above the Earth's surface.
1998 - The Palestinian leadership scrapped constitutional clauses that rejected Israel's existence.
1999 - After three years under suspicion of being a spy for China, computer scientist Wen Ho Lee was arrested. He was charged with removing secrets from the Los Alamos weapons lab. Lee later pled guilty to one count of downloading restricted data to tape and was freed. The other 58 counts were dropped.
2003 - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld new restrictions on political advertising in the weeks before an election. The court did strike down two provisions of the new law that involved a ban on political contibutions from those too young to vote and a limitation on some party spending. (McConnell v. FEC, 02-1674)
2003 - The U.S. barred firms based in certain countries, opponents of the Iraq war, from bidding on Iraqi reconstruction projects. The ban did not prevent companies from winning subcontracts.
2007 - Cristina Fernandez was sworn in as Argentina's first elected female president.