1519: Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés enters Tenochtitlán and Aztec ruler Moctezuma welcomes him with a great celebration. Moctezuma deliberately let Cortés enter the Aztec capital, where Mexico City is today, in hopes of getting to know their weaknesses better and to crush them later. However, excited by the lavish gifts of gold given to them by the Aztecs, Cortés soon decided to take Moctezuma as a hostage in his own palace and indirectly rule Tenochtitlán through him.
1656: Astronomer and mathematician Edmond Halley, best known for computing the orbit of the comet that bears his last name, is born in London, England.
1674: English poet John Milton, best known for his epic poem "Paradise Lost," dies of kidney failure at the age of 65 in London, England.
1836: Milton Bradley, credited by many with launching the board game industry in North America with the Milton Bradley Company, the maker of Battleship, Connect Four, Yahtzee and other games, is born in Vienna, Maine.
1847: Novelist Bram Stoker, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel "Dracula," is born in Dublin, Ireland.
1864: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is re-elected, defeating Democratic candidate George B. McClellan. Lincoln received 55 percent of the popular vote, carrying 22 states and 212 electoral votes, compared to McClellan's 45 percent, two states (Delaware, Kentucky and New Jersey) and 21 electoral votes. With the Civil War ongoing, no electoral votes were counted from all 11 Southern states, although elections were held in the Union-occupied states of Louisiana and Tennessee.
1884: Psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach, who is best known for developing a projective test known as the Rorschach inkblot test, is born in Zürich, Switzerland.
1887: The gun fighting dentist Doc Holliday, most famous for his association with Wyatt Earp and the Earp family's 1881 shootout near the O.K. Coral in Tombstone, Ariz., dies at the age of 35 from tuberculosis in a sanitarium in Glenwood Springs, Colo.
1889: Montana is admitted as the 41st U.S. state.
1892: Former President Grover Cleveland beats incumbent President Benjamin Harrison in a rematch of the closely contested 1888 election, becoming the only president to win non-consecutive terms in the White House.
1895: While experimenting with electricity, German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovers the X-ray. Nearly two weeks after his discovery, he would take the very first picture using X-rays of his wife's hand. The achievement would earn him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.
1900: Author Margaret Mitchell, best known for writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Gone with the Wind," is born in Atlanta, Ga.
1904: U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who had succeeded to the presidency upon the assassination of William McKinley, defeats Democratic candidate Alton B. Parker for election to his first full term. The Republican incumbent captured 56.4 percent of the popular vote and 336 electoral votes compared to Parker's 37.6 percent and 140.
1923: In Munich, Adolf Hitler leads the Nazis in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the German government that would become known as the "Beer Hall Putsch." Two days after the coup attempt, Hitler was arrested and charged with high treason and would later be sentenced to five years in prison.
1927: Singer and actress Patti Page, one of the most successful female recording artists of all time, is born Clara Ann Fowler in Claremore, Okla. She was the best-selling female artist of the 1950s and sold more than 100 million records off the strength of hits such as "Tennessee Waltz," "With My Eyes Wide Open, I'm Dreaming," "All My Love (Bolero)," "I Went to Your Wedding" and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window." Page died at age 85 on January 1, 2013.
1929: College football coach Bobby Bowden, who holds the NCAA record for most career wins and bowl wins by a Division I FBS coach and who coached the Florida State Seminoles from the 1976 to 2009 seasons, is born in Birmingham, Ala.
1931: Journalist Morley Safer, best known for his long tenure on the newsmagazine "60 Minutes," is born in Toronto, Ontario.
1932: Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected 32nd president of the United States, beating incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover. In the midst of the Great Depression, Roosevelt would garner 57.4 percent of the vote on the way to carrying 42 states and capturing 472 electoral votes, compared to 39.7 percent, six states and 50 electoral votes for Hoover.
1933: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt unveils the Civil Works Administration, an early New Deal organization designed to create jobs for more than 4 million of the unemployed during the Great Depression. The jobs were merely temporary, for the duration of the hard winter.
1949: Singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt, who released a series of acclaimed roots-influenced albums in the 1970s, is born in Burbank, Calif. She is perhaps even better known for her more commercial recordings in the 1990s including "Something to Talk About," "Love Sneakin' Up on You" and "I Can't Make You Love Me."
1950: Mary Hart, the long-running host of the syndicated gossip and entertainment round-up program "Entertainment Tonight" from 1982 to 2011, is born in Madison, S.D.
1952: Actress Alfre Woodard, best known for movies such as "Cross Creek," "Passion Fish," "Crooklyn," "How to Make an American Quilt," "Primal Fear" and "Star Trek: First Contact," is born in Tulsa, Okla. She also appeared in the TV series "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere" and "Desperate Housewives," and has won four Emmys in 18 nominations. She was also nominated for an Academy Award for her role in "Cross Creek" and won a Golden Globe for the HBO film "Miss Evers' Boys."
1956: After turning down 18,000 names, the Ford Motor Company decides to name their new car the "Edsel," after Henry Ford's only son. The distinctive-looking car, which made its debut in 1958, never gained popularity with American car buyers and sold poorly before being discontinued after 1960.
1957: Great Britain conducts its first successful hydrogen bomb test over Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.
1960: U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts, defeats Vice President Richard Nixon in one of the closest presidential elections of the 20th century to become the 35th president of the United States. Kennedy was elected with a lead of 112,827 votes, or 0.16 percent of the popular vote, giving him a victory of 303 to 219 in the Electoral College, the closest since 1916.
1961: Singer and actor Leif Garrett, who found fame in the late 1970s as a teen idol but received much publicity later in life for his drug abuse and legal troubles, is born under the birth name Leif Per Nervik in Hollywood, Calif.
1965: The soap opera "Days of Our Lives" debuts on television. The show, one of the longest-running scripted television programs in the world, has since aired more than 11,000 episodes.
1966: Former Massachusetts Attorney General Edward Brooke becomes the first black person elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction. Brooke would remain the only black person elected to the Senate in the 20th century until Democrat Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois in 1993, and was the last Republican senator elected from Massachusetts until the 2010 election of Scott Brown.
1966: Actor Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California, his first public office. He would go on to be re-elected in 1970 and then seek the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and 1976 before winning both the nomination and general election in 1980, defeating incumbent President Jimmy Carter.
1966: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law an antitrust exemption allowing the National Football League to merge with the upstart American Football League.
1966: Gordon Ramsay, chef and reality television personality, is born in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland.
1967: Actress Courtney Thorne-Smith, best known for her TV roles on "Melrose Place," "Ally McBeal," "According to Jim" and "Two and a Half Men," is born in San Francisco.
1968: Cynthia Powell Lennon is granted a divorce from John Lennon. The two had been married for six years, but Lennon had left her for Yoko Ono earlier in the year.
1968: Actress Parker Posey, best known for such indie movies as "Dazed and Confused," "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show," is born in Baltimore, Md.
1970: Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints sets a NFL record for the longest field goal, kicking a 63-yarder that gives the Saints a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. Although the record still stands today, it was equaled three times: by Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos on Oct. 25, 1998; by Sebastian Janikowski of the Oakland Raiders on Sept, 12, 2011; and by David Akers of the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 9, 2012.
1971: Led Zeppelin releases "Led Zeppelin IV," which would go on to sell 23 million copies to become the third-best-selling album ever in the United States. It's also sold an additional 9 million copies around the world. The band's fourth album, which was actually unnamed, features many of their most famous songs, including "Black Dog," "Rock and Roll," "Going to California" and "Stairway to Heaven."
1972: Actress Gretchen Mol, best known for movies like "Rounders," "Celebrity," "3:10 to Yuma" and "The Thirteenth Floor," and the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire," is born in Deep River, Conn.
1975: Actress Tara Reid, best known for roles in movies such as "American Pie," "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" and "American Reunion," is born in Wyckoff, N.J.
1978: Painter Norman Rockwell, most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine for more than four decades, dies of emphysema at age 84 in Stockbridge, Mass.
1985: Jack Osbourne, the son of rocker Ozzy Osbourne who became famous thanks to his family's reality TV show "The Osbournes" from 2003 to 2005, is born in London, England.
1988: Republican presidential candidate Vice President George H.W. Bush beats Democratic candidate Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis to become the 41st president of the United States. The election proved to be the third consecutive Republican landslide, with Bush garnering 53.4 percent of the popular vote on his way to carrying 40 states and collecting 426 electoral votes, as compared to Dukakis' 45.7 percent, 10 states plus Washington, D.C., and 111 electoral votes. No candidate since the election has managed to equal or surpass Bush's number of electoral votes won or popular vote percentage.
1989: L. Douglas Wilder wins the governor's race in Virginia, becoming the first elected black state governor in U.S. history. The first black governor of a U.S. state was P. B. S. Pinchback, who was not elected but succeeded as Louisiana governor on Dec. 9, 1872, upon the removal of his predecessor from office during Reconstruction.
1993: Five Picasso paintings and other artwork valued at $52 million are stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Sweden. In the summer of 1994, three Swedes who tried to sell one of the paintings, "La Femme aux Yeux Noirs" (pictured), were arrested, leading to the recovery of three of the Picassos. The other paintings have yet to be recovered.
1994: Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, riding their "Contract with America" to sweeping mid-term victories. The contract detailed what the Republicans planned to do should they take control of the House, including plans designed to shrink the size of government, promote lower taxes and greater entrepreneurial activity, and implement both tort and welfare reform.
1995: Michael Jackson merges his ATV Music catalog with Sony's music publishing division to create Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the world's third-largest music publishing company with more than 100,000 titles. Included in the deal are about 250 Beatles songs along with songs performed by Elvis Presley and Little Richard. Jackson retained half-ownership of the company and got $95 million as well as the rights to even more songs. Jackson, who bought ATV in 1985 for about $47.5 million, did not include the publishing rights to his own songs in the deal.
2000: In Florida, a statewide recount begins to decide the winner of the state's 25 electoral votes and, thus, the winner of the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Election day had come to an end the day before with only 1,784 votes separating Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. After weeks of drama, an intense recount process and the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, Bush officially won Florida's electoral votes, by a margin of only 537 votes out of almost 6 million cast, and as a result, the entire presidential election.
2002: The United Nations Security Council unanimously approves Resolution 1441, forcing Iraq President Saddam Hussein to disarm or face "serious consequences."
2002: The hip-hop drama "8 Mile," starring rapper Eminem, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Taryn Manning and Kim Basinger, and directed by Curtis Hanson, premieres in theaters. The movie would prove to be a critical and financial success and Eminem would win the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself" the following year.
2004: More than 10,000 U.S. troops and a small number of Iraqi army units begin a siege on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq. Dubbed Operation Phantom Fury, the siege would last until Dec. 23 and result in the death of more than 1,350 insurgent fighters and 95 American soldiers. The operation would prove to be the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War.
2005: The original "Guitar Hero" game is released in North America. One of the most influential video games of the 2000s, the game would spawn five direct sequels as well as three band-specific versions and three expansion games, not to mention spawning the "DJ Hero" games and inspiring the "Rock Band" series of music video games. The series has sold more than 25 million units worldwide, earning $2 billion.
2006: Donald Rumsfeld, who had been under fire since early 2006 for military planning and strategy in the Iraq War, announces he will resign as U.S. secretary of defense effective Dec. 18, 2006. President George W. Bush nominates Robert Gates to succeed Rumsfeld during the same press conference.
2010: Talk show host Conan O'Brien returns to television on TBS after a 10-month absence with his new talk show "Conan."
2011: Rapper Heavy D, whose hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s included "We Got Our Own Thang" and "Now That We Found Love," dies from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 44 in Los Angeles. The rapper, whose real name was Dwight Arrington Myers, released five albums with the hip-hop group Heavy D & the Boyz, was the president of Uptown Records and tried his hand at acting during his career.
2011: Cartoonist Bil Keane, best known as the creator of the long-running newspaper comic "The Family Circus," dies from congestive heart failure at the age of 89 in Paradise Valley, Ariz.