1324: Italian explorer Marco Polo, whose epic journey to China inspired Christopher Columbus and other explorers, dies at the age of 69 in Venice, Italy. Due to the Venetian law stating that the day ends at sunset, the exact date of Polo's death cannot be determined, but he died sometime between the sunsets of Jan. 8 and 9.
1642: Italian astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei, whose achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for the Earth revolving around the sun, dies at the age of 77 in Arcetri, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Italy.
1790: President George Washington delivers the first State of the Union address in New York City, then the provisional U.S. capital.
1815: In the final major battle of the War of 1812, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson leads American forces in victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans. The Treaty of Ghent ending the war had been signed on Dec. 24, 1814, and ratified by the Prince Regent on Dec. 30 and would be ratified by the United States Senate on Feb. 16, 1815. Hostilities continued until late February when official dispatches announcing the peace reached the combatants in Louisiana, finally putting an end to the war.
1825: American inventor Eli Whitney, best known for inventing the cotton gin, dies of prostate cancer at the age of 59 in New Haven, Conn.
1835: The United States national debt is $0 for the only time.
1867: Black men are granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.
1877: Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their last battle against the United States Cavalry at Wolf Mountain, Montana Territory. Following the battle, which ended in a draw, Crazy Horse's Oglala Lakota people would struggle through the winter, weakened by hunger and the long cold. In the spring, Crazy Horse decided to surrender with his band to protect them, and went to Fort Robinson in Nebraska. He was fatally wounded by a military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment in September 1877.
1918: Mississippi becomes the first state to ratify the 18th Amendment, which, upon full ratification in 1920, would make the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcohol illegal in the United States. Here, federal agents can be seen dumping out barrels of alcohol in 1921 after Prohibition was passed.
1926: Comedian Soupy Sales, best known for his local and network children's television show, "Lunch with Soupy Sales," is born Milton Supman in Franklinton, N.C. He died of cancer at age 83 on Oct. 22, 2009.
1935: Elvis Presley, one of the most popular musicians of the 20th century, is born in Tupelo, Miss.
1937: Singer Shirley Bassey, best known for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films "Goldfinger," "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Moonraker," is born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales.
1938: Game show host Bob Eubanks, best known for hosting "The Newlywed Game" on and off since 1966, is born in Flint, Mich.
1941: Lt. Gen. Robert Baden-Powell, the British soldier and author who founded the Scout movement, dies at the age of 83 in Nyeri, Kenya.
1941: Comedian and actor Graham Chapman, best known as one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python, is born in Leicester, Leicestershire, England. He's seen here in a group photo with the rest of the Monty Python group, in the back left with a pipe in his mouth. Chapman, who played the lead roles in the Monty Python films "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian", died of cancer at age 48 on Oct. 4, 1989.
1942: Physicist and author Stephen Hawking is born in Oxford, England. Along with his significant scientific works, Hawking also is famous for his published works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general, including his "A Brief History of Time," which stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
1946: Musician Robby Krieger, best known as the guitarist for the rock band The Doors, is born in Los Angeles, Calif. Krieger wrote some of The Doors' best known songs, including "Light My Fire," "Love Me Two Times," "Touch Me" and "Love Her Madly."
1947: Rock musician and actor David Bowie, a major figure for more than four decades in the world of popular music, is born David Robert Jones in London, England. Some of Bowie's hit songs include "Space Oddity," "Changes," "Golden Years," "Let's Dance" and "China Girl." He's also appeared in movies such as "The Man Who Fell to Earth," "Labyrinth" and "The Last Temptation of Christ."
1951: Film director John McTiernan, best known for directing action films such as "Predator," "Die Hard" and "The Hunt for Red October," is born in Albany, N.Y. He's seen here on set with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Austin O'Brien while filming 1993's "The Last Action Hero."
1953: Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Bruce Sutter, one of the sport's dominant relievers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is born in Lancaster, Pa. A six-time All-Star and the 1979 Cy Young Award winner, Sutter won a World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and retired with exactly 300 saves, at the time the third highest total in history.
1958: Bobby Fisher, at the age of 14, wins the United States Chess Championship for the first time. Fischer, seen here in at left 1960, would play in a total of eight U.S. Chess Championships, each held in New York City, winning every one.
1963: Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" is exhibited in the United States for the first time, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
1966: The Beatles' "Rubber Soul" album goes No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart on the same day their single "We Can Work It Out" goes No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart as well. The album would stay at the No. 1 spot for six weeks while the single would last at No. 1 for three weeks. "We Can Work It Out," which was recorded during the "Rubber Soul" sessions but not released on the album, was the last of six No. 1 singles in a row for The Beatles on the American charts, a record at the time.
1967: Singer-songwriter R. Kelly, a Grammy-winner best known for a collection of major hit singles including "Bump n' Grind," "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Trapped in the Closet," is born Robert Sylvester Kelly in Chicago, Ill.
1973: The trial of seven men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins. Five defendants immediately pleaded guilty, with E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, White House operatives who organized and directed the burglaries, eventually being convicted following the trial. The resulting political scandal from the break-in would eventually lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon on Aug. 9, 1974, the only resignation of a U.S. president.
1975: Ella T. Grasso is sworn in as the governor of Connecticut, the first woman to serve as a governor in the United States other than by succeeding her husband.
1979: Actress, screenwriter and director Sarah Polley, best known for her roles in movies such as "Dawn of the Dead," "Go" and "John Adams," is born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her directorial debut, 2006's "Away from Her," earned her a Genie Award for Best Achievement in Direction and an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
1992: U.S. President George H. W. Bush vomits and collapses during a state dinner in his honor at the Tokyo home of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. White House officials later said Bush was suffering from stomach flu.
1993: The U.S. Postal Service debuts an Elvis Presley commemorative stamp on what would have been the singer's 58th birthday. The 29-cent stamp featured the likeness of the 1950's-era Elvis.
1994: Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov blasts off on Soyuz TM-18 for the Mir space station. He would stay on the space station until March 22, 1995, for a record 437 days and 18 hours in space.
1994: Tonya Harding wins the ladies' U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Detroit a day after Nancy Kerrigan dropped out because of a Jan. 6 clubbing attack that injured her right knee. The U.S. Figure Skating Association would later strip Harding of the title after authorities found that she had failed to prevent the assault.
1998: Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the mastermind behind the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 that killed six and injured 1,042, is sentenced to 240 years in prison for the attack.
1999: Frank Joklik and Dave Johnson, the top two executives of Salt Lake City's Olympic Organizing Committee, resign amid disclosures that civic boosters had given cash to members of the International Olympic Committee. The U.S. Department of Justice would later file 15 charges of bribery and fraud against Johnson and Tom Welch, another committee member, but they were eventually acquitted of all criminal charges in December 2003.
2002: President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act while visiting Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio. The new law aimed to make federally-funded schools more accountable for the education of poor and minority children through the use of standardized testing.
2002: Dave Thomas, the founder and chief executive officer of the fast-food restaurant chain Wendy's, dies of liver cancer at the age of 69 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Thomas, who named the restaurant chain after his daughter, was also known for his appearances in more than 800 commercial advertisements for the chain from 1989 to 2002.
2004: The RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship ever built, is christened by her namesake's granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
2007: Canadian-born actress Yvonne De Carlo, best known for playing Lily Munster in the TV sitcom "The Munsters," dies of natural causes at the age of 84 in Woodland Hills, Calif. De Carlo was also known for her roles in movies such as "Salome Where She Danced," "Criss Cross" and "The Ten Commandments."
2011: A week into her third term, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., is shot by Jared Lee Loughner at a supermarket near Tucson, Ariz., where she was meeting publicly with constituents. Giffords was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head, with 12 others injured and six killed in the shooting, including federal judge John Roll, Gifford staffer Gabe Zimmerman and 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Giffords would later be brought to a rehabilitation facility in Houston, Texas, where she recovered some of her ability to walk, speak, read and write. She resigned from office in January 2012 to focus on her recovery. Loughner would initially be found incompetent to stand trial based on a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia but was eventually judged competent after treatment. He pleaded guilty to 19 counts and in November 2012 was sentenced to life in prison.