1696 James Oglethorpe (born), English general, founded the Province of Georgia (died 1785)
1805 John Obadiah Westwood (born), English entomologist and archaeologist (died 1893)
1807 The Embargo Act, forbidding trade with all foreign countries, is passed by the U.S. Congress, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson.
1808 Ludwig van Beethoven conducts and performs in concert at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, with the premiere of his Fifth Symphony, Sixth Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto (performed by Beethoven himself) and Choral Fantasy (with Beethoven at the piano).
1851 India’s first freight train is operated in Roorkee, India.
1858 Giacomo Puccini (born), Italian composer (died 1924)
1864 Savannah, Georgia falls to General William Tecumseh Sherman, concluding his “March to the Sea”.
1880 George Eliot (died), English author and journalist (born 1819)
1894 The Dreyfus affair begins in France, when Alfred Dreyfus is wrongly convicted of treason.
1899 Dwight L. Moody (died), American evangelist and publisher, founded Moody Publishers (born 1837)
1912 Lady Bird Johnson (born), American wife of Lyndon B. Johnson, 38th First Lady of the United States (died 2007)
1942 Franz Boas (died), German anthropologist (born 1858)
1943 Beatrix Potter (died), English author and illustrator (born 1866)
1944 Battle of the Bulge – German troops demand the surrender of United States troops at Bastogne, Belgium, prompting the famous one word reply by General Anthony McAuliffe: “Nuts!”
1945 Diane Sawyer (born), American journalist
1949 Maurice Gibb (born), English singer-songwriter bass player and producer (Bee Gees and The Bloomfields) (died 2003)
1949 Robin Gibb (born), English singer-songwriter and producer (Bee Gees) (died 2012)
1956 Colo, the first gorilla to be bred in captivity, is born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio.
1964 The first test flight of the SR-71 (Blackbird) took place at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.
1965 In the United Kingdom, a 70 mph speed limit is applied to all rural roads including motorways for the first time. Previously, there had been no speed limit.
1974 The house of former British Prime Minister Edward Heath is attacked by members of the Provisional IRA.
1984 Bernhard Goetz shoots four African American would-be muggers on an express train in Manhattan section of New York, New York.
1989 Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate re-opens after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany.
1995 Butterfly McQueen (died), American actress and dancer, played Scarlett O’Hara’s maid Prissy in Gone with the Wind (born 1911)
2001 Richard Reid attempts to destroy a passenger airliner by igniting explosives hidden in his shoes aboard American Airlines Flight 63.
2008 An ash dike ruptured at a solid waste containment area in Roane County, Tennessee, releasing 1.1 billion US gallons (4,200,000 m3) of coal fly ash slurry.
2010 The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the 17-year-old policy banning homosexuals serving openly in the United States military, is signed into law by President Barack Obama.