1170 - St. Thomas ŕ Becket, the 40th archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in his own cathedral by four knights acting on Henry II's orders.
1812 - The USS Constitution won a battle with the British ship HMS Java about 30 miles off the coast of Brazil. Before Commodore William Bainbridge ordered the sinking of the Java he had her wheel removed to replace the one the Constitution had lost during the battle.
1813 - The British burned Buffalo, NY, during the War of 1812.
1837 - Canadian militiamen destroyed the Caroline, a U.S. steamboat docked at Buffalo, NY.
1845 - U.S. President James Polk and signed legislation making Texas the 28th state of the United States.
1848 - U.S. President James Polk turned on the first gas light at the White House.
1851 - The first American Young Men's Christian Association was organized, in Boston, MA.
1860 - The HMS Warrior, Britain's first seagoing first iron-hulled warship, was launched.
1888 - The first performance of Macbeth took place at the Lyceum Theatre.
1890 - The U.S. Seventh Cavalry massacred over 400 men, women and children at Wounded Knee Creek, SD. This was the last major conflict between Indians and U.S. troops.
1895 - The Jameson Raid from Mafikeng into Transvaal, which attempted to overthrow Kruger's Boer government, started.
1911 - Sun Yat-sen became the first president of a republican China.
1913 - "The Unwelcome Throne" was released by Selig’s Polyscope Company. This was a moving picture and the first serial motion picture.
1934 - The first regular-season, college basketball game was played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. New York University defeated Notre Dame 25-18.
1934 - Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
1937 - Babe Ruth returned to baseball as the new manager of the Class D, De Land Reds of the Florida State League. Ruth had retired from baseball in 1935.
1940 - During World War II, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London.
1945 - The mystery voice of Mr. Hush was heard for the first time on the radio show, "Truth or Consequences", hosted by Ralph Edwards.
1945 - Sheb Wooley recorded the first commercial record made in Nashville, TN.
1949 - KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut became the first ultrahigh frequency (UHF) television station to begin operating on a regular daily schedule.
1952 - The first transistorized hearing aid was offered for sale by Sonotone Corporation.
1953 - Jean Stapleton debuted in her first Broadway play, "In the Summer House", which closed after only 55 performances.
1972 - Following 36 years of publication, the last weekly issue of "LIFE" magazine hit the newsstands. The magazine later became a monthly publication.
1975 - A bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York's LaGuardia Airport. 11 people were killed.
1985 - Phil Donahue and a Soviet radio commentator hosted the "Citizens’ Summit" via satellite TV.
1986 - The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL, reopened for business after eighteen years and $47 million expended on restoration.
1989 - Following Hong Kong's decision to forcibly repatriate some Vietnamese refugees, thousands of Vietnamese 'boat people' battled with riot police.
1989 - Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia by the country's Federal Assembly. He was the first non-Communist to hold the position in more than four decades.
1996 - The Guatemalan government and leaders of the leftist Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union signed a peace accord in Guatemala City, ending a civil war that had lasted 36 years.
1997 - Hong Kong began killing 1.25 million chickens, the entire population, for fear of the spread of 'bird flu.'
1998 - Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed 1 million lives.
1999 - The Nasdaq composite index closed at 4,041.46. It was the first close above 4,000.