1547: Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who led an expedition that caused thefall of the Aztec Empire, dies of pleurisy at age 61 or 62 in Castilleja de la Cuesta, Castile, Spain.
1697: St. Paul's Cathedral opens in London, England.
1804: At Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Pope Pius VII crowns Napoleon Bonaparte as emperor of the French, the first French emperor in a thousand years. Napoleon then crowned his wife Joséphine as empress.
1814: French politician and philosopher Marquis de Sade dies at age 74 in a lunatic asylum in Charenton, Val-de-Marne, France. De Sade was famous for his libertine sexuality and is best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography. He spent much of his life in various prisons and the Charenton insane asylum. The words "sadism" and "sadist" are derived from his name.
1823: During his State of the Union Address to the U.S. Congress, President James Monroe states that any further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression. At the same time, Monroe also established that America would remain neutral in future European conflicts. The speech set what would eventually become known as the Monroe Doctrine.
1859: Militant abolitionist leader John Brown is hanged for his Oct. 16 raid on a federal armory at Harper's Ferry, W.Va. Brown, who had hoped to start an armed slave revolt, and his raiders were initially successful in capturing the armory, but were defeated two days later by a detachment of U.S. Marines led by Col. Robert E. Lee.
1859: Georges Seurat, the Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman known for his innovative use of drawing media and for devising the technique of painting known as pointillism, is born in Paris, France. Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" is one of the icons of late 19th-century painting.
1909: The National Hockey Association forms with four teams: the Montreal Wanderers, the Renfrew Creamery Kings, the Cobalt Silver Kings and the Haileybury Hockey Club. The Canadian league was the direct predecessor organization to today's NHL, which was formed in 1917 as a way for most of the NHA team owners to get rid of an unwanted owner.
1927: After more than 18 years of Ford Model T production, the Ford Motor Company begins selling the Ford Model A as its new automobile. By February 1929, more than 1 million Model As had been sold, which jumped to 2 million by the end of July 1929.
1939: U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the senior senator from Nevada who has served as the Senate majority leader since 2007, is born in Searchlight, Nev. Reid, who has served in the Senate since 1987, previously served as minority leader and minority and majority whip. He also represented Nevada in the U.S. House from 1983 to 1987.
1942: During the Manhattan Project, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in a reactor built under the stands of Stagg Field on the University of Chicago campus. Pictured is a drawing of the reactor, which consisted of uranium and uranium oxide lumps spaced in a cubic lattice embedded in graphite.
1954: The U.S. Senate votes 67 to 22 to censure Sen. Joseph McCarthy for "conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute."
1956: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and 80 other members of the 26th of July Movement disembark the Granma yacht after it reached the shores of Cuba's Oriente province to initiate the Cuban Revolution. Since 1976, the yacht has been on permanent display in a glass enclosure at the Granma Memorial adjacent to the Museum of the Revolution in Havana.
1961: In a nationally broadcast speech, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declares that he is a Marxist-Leninist and that Cuba is going to adopt Communism.
1968: Actress Lucy Liu, best known for her TV work in "Ally McBeal" and "Elementary" and for movies such as "Charlie's Angels," "Chicago," "Kill Bill" and "Kung Fu Panda," is born in Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y.
1970: The United States Environmental Protection Agency begins operations.
1973: Monica Seles, the former world no. 1 professional tennis player and a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, current-day Serbia. In 1990, Seles became the youngest-ever French Open champion at age 16. She went on to win seven more Grand Slam singles titles before her 20th birthday and ranked No. 1 in the world at the end of 1991 and 1992. Her career was derailed after an on-court attack on April 30, 1993, when she was stabbed in the back, but she returned to tennis after two years, eventually winning the Australian Open in 1996 and earning a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Seles, who's seen here in 2011, played her last professional match at the 2003 French Open and officially retired in early 2008.
1976: Fidel Castro becomes president of Cuba, replacing Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado. He would serve as Cuban president until failing health forced him to transfer his responsibilities to his brother, Vice President Raúl Castro, in 2006. His brother formally assumed the presidency in 2008.
1978: Singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado, whose hit songs include "I'm like a Bird," "Promiscuous" and "Say It Right," is born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
1981: Singer-songwriter, dancer and actress Britney Spears, best known for hit songs such as "...Baby One More Time," "Oops!... I Did It Again," "Stronger," "Toxic" and "Womanizer," is born in McComb, Miss.
1982: English comedian and actor Marty Feldman, best known for his roles in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" and "Silent Movie," dies of a heart attack at age 48 in Mexico City.
1982: Barney Clark becomes the world's first recipient of a permanent artificial heart, the Jarvik-7, in a surgery performed at the University of Utah Medical Center. The surgery was performed by Dr. William DeVries in cooperation with the device's inventor, Dr. Robert Jarvik. Clark, a dentist from Seattle who was suffering from severe congestive heart failure, would live 112 days on the artificial heart. Of the next four implants, the longest survivor was William Schroeder, who lived 620 days.
1983: MTV airs the John Landis-directed music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" for the first time. The 13-minute video was MTV's first world premiere video and would prove to be one of the most influential pop music videos of all time.
1983: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who led the Green Bay Packers to a championship in Super Bowl XLV after the 2010 season, is born in Chico, Calif. Rodgers, who began his NFL career backing up Brett Favre for three seasons before becoming a starter in 2008, was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLV and the 2011 NFL MVP.
1986: Cuban-born American musician, actor and television producer Desi Arnaz, best known for starring as Ricky Ricardo alongside with his wife Lucille Ball on the 1950s sitcom "I Love Lucy," dies of lung cancer at age 69 in Del Mar, Calif.
1986: R&B singer Lee Dorsey, best known for the songs "Ya Ya" and "Working in the Coal Mine," dies of emphysema at age 61 in New Orleans, La.
1988: Benazir Bhutto is sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman to head the government of an Islam-dominated state. Bhutto, seen here during a state visit to Washington, D.C., in 1989, would serve until 1990 and be elected again in 1993. After nine years of self-exile in Dubai and London, she returned to Pakistan in October 2007 to run again for prime minister, but was assassinated two months later.
1988: "The Naked Gun," starring Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy and O.J. Simpson, premieres in theaters. The comedy, based off the short-lived TV series "Police Squad!," would prove a box office and critical success, spawning two sequels.
1990: Aaron Copland, one of the most respected American classical composers of the 20th century, dies of Alzheimer's disease and respiratory failure at age 90 in North Tarrytown, N.Y. Some of his best known works include the ballets "Appalachian Spring," "Billy the Kid" and "Rodeo," his "Fanfare for the Common Man" and "Third Symphony." He also composed for film, earning an Oscar for William Wyler's 1949 film "The Heiress" and additional nominations for his scores to "Of Mice and Men," "Our Town" and "The North Star."
1993: Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is shot and killed during a gun battle with Colombian National Police in Medellín, Colombia.
1993: NASA launches the space shuttle Endeavour on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. With its very heavy workload, the STS-61 mission was one of the most complex in the space shuttle program's history, lasting nearly 11 days, and crew members made five spacewalks, an all-time record.
2001: Enron Corp., once the world's largest energy trader, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
2008: Odetta, the singer-songwriter, guitarist and actress often referred to as "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement," dies of heart disease at age 77 in New York City. Odetta, whose full name was Odetta Holmes, helped revive American folk music in the 1950s and served as an influence for artists such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples and Janis Joplin.