1620 - The Mayflower reached Provincetown, MA. The ship discharged the Pilgrims at Plymouth, MA, on December 26, 1620.
1694 - French author and philosopher Jean Francois Voltaire was born. At age 65 he spent only three days writing "Candide."
1783 - The first successful flight was made in a hot air balloon. The pilots, Francois Pilatre de Rosier and Francois Laurent, Marquis d'Arlandes, flew for 25 minutes and 5½ miles over Paris.
1789 - North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
1871 - M.F. Galethe patented the cigar lighter.
1877 - Thomas A. Edison announced the invention of his phonograph.
1922 - Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia was sworn in as the first woman to serve as a member of the U.S. Senate.
1929 - Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali had his first art exhibit.
1934 - The New York Yankees purchased the contract of Joe DiMaggio from San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League.
1942 - The Alaska highway across Canada was formally opened.
1953 - British Natural History Museum authorities announced that "Piltdown Man" was a hoax.
1962 - U.S. President Kennedy terminated the quaratine measures against Cuba.
1963 - U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, arrived in San Antonio, TX. They were beginning an ill-fated, two-day tour of Texas that would end in Dallas.
1973 - U.S. President Richard M. Nixon's attorney, J. Fred Buzhardt, announced the presence of an 18½-minute gap in one of the White House tape recordings related to the Watergate case.
1979 - The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was attacked by a mob that set the building afire and killed two Americans.
1980 - An estimated 83 million viewers tuned in to find out "who shot J.R." on the CBS prime-time soap opera Dallas. Kristin was the character that fired the gun. (Texas)
1980 - 87 people died in a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
1982 - The National Football League (NFL) resumed its season following a 57-day player's strike.
1985 - Former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Jay Pollard was arrested after being accused of spying for Israel. He was later sentenced to life in prison.
1986 - U.S. Attorney General Meese was asked to conduct an inquiry of the Iran arms sales.
1987 - An eight-day siege began at a detention center in Oakdale, LA, as Cuban detainees seized the facility and took hostages.
1989 - The proceedings of Britain's House of Commons were televised live for the first time.
1992 - U.S. Senator Bob Packwood, issued an apology but refused to discuss allegations that he'd made unwelcome sexual advances toward 10 women in past years.
1993 - The U.S. House of Representatives voted against making the District of Columbia the 51st state.
1994 - NATO warplanes bombed an air base in Serb-held Croatia that was being used by Serb planes to raid the Bosnian "safe area" of Bihac.
1995 - France detonated its fourth underground nuclear blast at a test site in the South Pacific.
1995 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 5,000-mark (5,023.55) for the first time.
1999 - China announced that it had test-launched an unmanned space capsule that was designed for manned spaceflight.
2000 - The Florida Supreme Court granted Al Gore's request to keep the presidential recounts going.
2001 - Microsoft Corp. proposed giving $1 billion in computers, software, training and cash to more than 12,500 of the poorest schools in the U.S. The offer was intended as part of a deal to settle most of the company's private antitrust lawsuits.
2002 - NATO invited Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to become members.