1577 - Five ships under the command of Sir Francis Drake left Plymouth, England, to embark on Drake's circumnavigation of the globe. The journey took almost three years.
1636 - The United States National Guard was created when militia regiments were organized by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1642 - New Zealand was discovered by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman.
1769 - Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, received its charter.
1809 - The first abdominal surgical procedure was performed in Danville, KY, on Jane Todd Crawford. The operation was performed without an anesthetic.
1816 - John Adamson received a patent for a dry dock.
1862 - In America, an estimated 11,000 Northern soldiers were killed or wounded when Union forces were defeated by Confederates under General Robert E. Lee, at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
1883 - The border between Ontario and Manitoba was established.
1884 - Percy Everitt received a patent for the first coin-operated weighing machine.
1913 - It was announced by authorities in Florence, Italy, that the "Mona Lisa" had been recovered. The work was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1911.
1913 - The Federal Reserve System was established.
1918 - U.S. President Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit a European country while holding office.
1921 - Britain, France, Japan and the United States signed the Pacific Treaty.
1937 - Japanese forces took the Chinese city of Nanking (Nanjing). An estimated 200,000 Chinese were killed over the next six weeks. The event became known as the "Rape of Nanking."
1944 - During World War II, the U.S. cruiser Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze suicide attack. 138 people were killed in the attack.
1961 - Anna Mary Robertson Moses, "Grandma Moses," passed away at the age of 101.
1964 - In El Paso, TX, President Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz set off an explosion that diverted the Rio Grande River, reshaping the U.S.-Mexican border. This ended a century-old border dispute.
1966 - The rights to the first four Super Bowls were sold to CBS and NBC for total of $9.5 million.
1978 - The Philadelphia Mint began stamping the Susan B. Anthony U.S. dollar. The coin began circulation the following July.
1980 - Three days after a disputed general election, Uganda’s President Milton Obote was returned to office.
1981 - Authorities in Poland imposed martial law in an attempt to crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. Martial law ended formally in 1983.
1982 - The Sentry Armored Car Company in New York discovered that $11 million had been stolen from its headquarters overnight. It was the biggest cash theft in U.S. history.
1987 - U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark, that the Reagan administration would begin making funding requests for the proposed Star Wars defense system.
1988 - PLO chairman Yasser Arafat addressed the U.N. General Assembly in Geneva, where it had reconvened after the United States had refused to grant Arafat a visa to visit New York.
1988 - A bankruptcy judge in Columbia, SC, ordered the assets of the troubled PTL television ministry sold to a Toronto real estate developer for $65 million.
1989 - South African President F.W. de Klerk met for the first time with imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, at de Klerk's office in Cape Town.
1991 - Five Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union agreed to join the new Commonwealth of Independent States.
1991 - North Korea and South Korea signed a historic non-aggression agreement.
1993 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people must receive a hearing before property linked to illegal drug sales can be seized.
1993 - The European Community ratified a treaty creating the European Economic Area (EEA), to go into effect January 1, 1994.
1994 - An American Eagle commuter plane carrying 20 people crashed short of Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, killing 15 people.
1995 - China's most influential democracy activist, Wei Jingsheng, who already had spent 16 years in prison, was sentenced to 14 more years.
1997 - The Getty Center in Los Angeles, CA, was opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
1998 - Puerto Rican voters rejected U.S. statehood in a non-binding referendum.
1998 - Gary Anderson (Minnesota Vikings) kicked six field goals against Baltimore. In the game Anderson set an National Football League (NFL) record for 34 straight field goals without a miss.
2000 - U.S. Vice President Al Gore conceded the 2000 Presidential election to Texas Gov. George W. Bush. The Florida electoral votes were won by only 537 votes, which decided the election. The election had been contested up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which said that the Florida recount (supported by the Florida Supreme Court) was unconstitutional.
2000 - Seven convicts, the "Texas 7," escaped from Connally Unit in Kenedy, TX, southeast of San Antonio, by overpowering civilian workers and prison employees. They fled with stolen clothing, pickup truck and 16 guns and ammunition.
2001 - The U.S. government released a video tape that showed Osama bin Laden and others discussing their knowledge of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
2001 - U.S. President George W. Bush served formal notice to Russia that the United States was withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
2001 - Israel severed all contact with Yasser Arafat. Israel also launched air strikes and sent troops into Palestine in response to a bus ambush that killed 10 Israelis.
2001 - Gunmen stormed the Indian Parliament and killed seven people and injured 18. Security forces killed the attackers during a 90-minute gunbattle.
2001 - NBC-TV announced that it would begin running hard liquor commercials. NBC issued a 19-point policy that outlined the conditions for accepting liquor ads.
2001 - Michael Frank Goodwin was arrested and booked on two counts of murder, one count of conspiracy and three special circumstances (lying in wait, murder for financial gain and multiple murder) in connection to the death of Mickey Thompson. Thompson and his wife Trudy were shot to death in their driveway on March 16, 1988. Thompson, known as the "Speed King," set nearly 500 auto speed endurance records including being the first person to travel more than 400 mph on land.