1618: English adventurer, writer and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh is beheaded for allegedly conspiring against King James I of England.
1682: The founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, lands at what is now Chester, Pa.
1787: Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni" premieres in Prague.
1792: Mount Hood in Oregon is named after the British naval officer Samuel Hood by Lt. William E. Broughton, a member of Capt. George Vancouver's discovery expedition, who spotted the mountain near the mouth of the Willamette River.
1863: Eighteen countries meet in Geneva and agree to form the International Red Cross.
1888: The Convention of Constantinople is signed, guaranteeing free maritime passage through the Suez Canal during war and peace.
1891: Singer and actress Fanny Brice, who was portrayed by Barbra Streisand on the Broadway stage and in the film adaptation "Funny Girl," is born in New York City.
1901: Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley, is executed by electric chair just 45 days after McKinley's death.
1911: Joseph Pulitzer, the Hungarian-American newspaper publisher known for the 1890s rivalry between his New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal, dies at age 64 in Charleston, S.C. Pulitzer willed Columbia University $2 million, which the school used to fund the Columbia School of Journalism and the Pulitzer Prizes, given annually to award achievements in journalism and photography, as well as literature and history, poetry, music and drama.
1929: The New York Stock Exchange crashes in what will be called the Crash of '29 or "Black Tuesday," ending the Great Bull Market of the 1920s and beginning the Great Depression.
1940: The lottery for the first World War II draftees is held in Washington, D.C., with Secretary of War Henry Stimson drawing from a fish bowl filled with capsules containing papers with the numbers 1 through 7,836 printed on them. The first number drawn and read by President Franklin Roosevelt is No. 158, with 6,175 young men across the country holding that number. All the men holding that number were brought in first by their local draft boards to be considered for service, with men holding the numbers that followed in the lottery brought in after them until the services had their fill.
1941: More than 10,000 Jews from the Kovno ghetto (pictured) in Lithuania are rounded up and shot by German occupiers at the Ninth Fort in Kaunas, Lithuania, a massacre known as the "Great Action." It was the largest mass murder of Lithuanian Jews during the Holocaust.
1943: Film producer, screenwriter and actor Don Simpson (left), best known for producing hit films such as "Flashdance," "Beverly Hills Cop," "Top Gun" and "The Rock" with his producing partner Jerry Bruckheimer (right), is born in Seattle, Wash. Simpson, who also briefly served as president of production at Paramount Pictures in the early 1980s, died of drug-related heart failure at age 52 on Jan. 19, 1996.
1945: The first ballpoint pen in the U.S. goes on sale at Gimbels Department Store in Manhattan for the then-luxurious price of $12.95. The new pen, the brainchild of Chicago businessman Milton Reynolds, was an immediate success, with more than $100,000 worth sold on the first day. However, the pen, which had a tendency to leak and skip, became a fad that faded quickly. By 1948, the price had dropped to less than 50 cents.
1947: Actor Richard Dreyfuss, best known for his roles in movies such as "American Graffiti," "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "The Goodbye Girl" and "Mr. Holland's Opus," is born in Brooklyn, N.Y. Dreyfuss earned an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1977 for "The Goodbye Girl" and was nominated again in 1995 for "Mr. Holland's Opus."
1948: Actress Kate Jackson, best known for her roles in the TV series "Charlie's Angels" and "Scarecrow and Mrs. King," is born in Birmingham, Ala.
1956: The Suez Crisis begins as Israeli forces invade the Sinai Peninsula and push Egyptian forces back toward the Suez Canal. Israel was responding to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's decision to nationalize the canal. Israel was quickly assisted by British and French forces, which bombed Cairo in an attempt to regain Western control of the canal and remove Nasser from power. The United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations would put pressure on Britain, France and Israel to pull out from Egypt, and Anglo-French forces withdrew before the end of the year, but Israeli forces remained until March 1957, prolonging the crisis. In April 1957, the canal was fully reopened to shipping.
1957: Film producer Louis B. Mayer, generally cited as the creator of the "star system" within Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in its golden years, dies of leukemia at the age of 73 in Los Angeles. Mayer, seen here with Joan Crawford in 1953, was the first person in American history to earn a million-dollar salary and was the highest-paid man in the United States for the nine years from 1937.
1957: Actor Dan Castellaneta, best known for voicing Homer Simpson from the animated TV show "The Simpsons," is born in Oak Park, Ill. Castellaneta, who also voices several other characters on the show, has won four Emmys for his work on "The Simpsons."
1960: In Louisville, Ky., Cassius Clay (who later took the name Muhammad Ali) is victorious in his first professional fight, winning a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker.
1964: In the biggest jewel heist in American history, a collection of irreplaceable gems valued at more than $400,000, including the 563.35 carat Star of India sapphire, the Midnight Star, the DeLong Star Ruby and the Eagle Diamond, is stolen from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The notorious cat burglar, smuggler and one-time surfing champion Jack Murphy, also known as "Murph the Surf," and both of his accomplices, Alan Kuhn and Roger Clark, would be arrested two days later and later received three-year sentences. Some months later, the uninsured Star of India was recovered in a locker in a Miami bus station. While most of the other gems would also be found, the Eagle Diamond was never seen again.
1967: Montreal's World Fair, Expo 67, closes after six months and more than 50 million visitors. It is considered to be the most successful world's fair of the 20th century, with the most attendees to that date and 62 nations participating. It also set the single-day attendance record for a world's fair, with 569,000 visitors on its third day.
1969: The first-ever computer-to-computer link is established on the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the precursor to the Internet. Pictured is a log of the first message ever sent via the ARPANET between computers at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute.
1969: The U.S. Supreme Court rules on Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, ordering an immediate end to all school segregation. The ruling changed 1954's Brown v. Board of Education's requirement for school desegregation "with all deliberate speed" to one of "desegregation now." For 15 years since Brown, schools in the South had used the phrase to put off desegregation.
1971: Guitarist Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers Band is killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Ga., at the age of 24. Allman, best remembered for his expressive slide guitar playing and inventive improvisational skills, formed the band with his younger brother, Gregg Allman, in 1969. After Duane Allman's funeral and some weeks of mourning, the five surviving members of The Allman Brothers Band carried on.
1971: Actress Winona Ryder, best known for roles in movies such as "Beetlejuice," "Heathers," "Edward Scissorhands," "The Age of Innocence," "Reality Bites" and "Little Women," is born under the birth name Winona Laura Horowitz in Olmsted County, Minn.
1981: Swimmer Amanda Beard, a seven-time Olympic medalist (a gold and two silvers in 1996 in Atlanta, a bronze in 2000 in Sydney, and a gold and two silvers in 2004 in Athens), is born in Newport Beach, Calif.
1991: The American Galileo spacecraft makes its closest approach to 951 Gaspra, becoming the first probe to visit an asteroid.
1994: Francisco Martin Duran fires 29 shots from an SKS rifle at the White House from Pennsylvania Avenue. Duran would later be convicted of trying to kill President Bill Clinton and be sentenced to 40 years in prison.
1995: Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers becomes the NFL's career leader in receiving yards with 14,040 yards, surpassing James Lofton's record of 14,004 yards. By the time his career ended after the 2004 season, Rice (seen here in 2008) would have reached 22,895 career receiving yards for a record that still stands today.
1998: The space shuttle Discovery blasts off on mission STS-95 with former Project Mercury astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn on board. At age 77, Glenn becomes the oldest person to go into space. This mission is also noted for inaugurating ATSC HDTV broadcasting in the U.S., with live coast-to-coast coverage of the launch. In another first, Spain's Pedro Duque becomes the first Spaniard in space.
1998: Hurricane Mitch, the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history, makes landfall in Honduras. The storm would kill nearly 19,000 people (the majority in Honduras and Nicaragua), leave roughly 2.7 million homeless and cause nearly $6 billion in damages before it was done.
1998: The Gothenburg nightclub fire in Sweden kills 63 and injures more than 200. The fire was started by four teenagers aged 17 to 19, who were denied entry to the discothèque because of an argument. They were later convicted for gross arson and sentenced to prison terms from seven to eight years, except for the youngest, a minor aged 17 who received three years in a juvenile care facility.
1998: In London, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman accept substantial, undisclosed libel damages from the Express Newspapers for an article run on Oct. 5, 1997, that claimed both were homosexual and their marriage was a sham to cover the truth.
2002: Christina Aguilera's album "Stripped" is released in the United States. The album would reach the top two of the album charts in both the United States and United Kingdom and features two UK No. 1 hits, "Dirrty" and "Beautiful," the second of which became one of Aguilera's most successful tracks and would peak at No. 2 in the U.S.
2003: LeBron James makes his NBA debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring 25 points and setting an NBA record for most points scored by a prep-to-pro player in his debut outing. He also added nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals on 60 percent shooting.
2004: The Arabic news network Al Jazeera broadcasts an excerpt from a video of Osama bin Laden in which the terrorist leader first admits direct responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and references the 2004 U.S. presidential election.
2004: The horror movie "Saw," starring Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Michael Emerson and Tobin Bell and directed by James Wan, premieres in theaters. The low-budget indie movie would prove a sleeper hit, grossing more than $103 million worldwide and spawning six sequels.
2004: The biopic "Ray," starring Jamie Foxx as R&B musician Ray Charles, premieres in theaters. Foxx would go on to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Charles, who died of liver disease in June 2004.
2008: Delta Air Lines merges with Northwest Airlines, creating the world's largest airline and reducing the number of U.S. legacy carriers to five.
2010: Authorities on three continents announce they had thwarted multiple terrorist attacks aimed at the United States, seizing two explosive packages addressed to Chicago-area synagogues and packed aboard cargo jets from Yemen. According to officials, the bombs were probably designed to detonate mid-air, with the intention of destroying both planes over Chicago or another city in the U.S. One week later, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula would take responsibility for the plot, and for the crash of UPS Airlines Flight 6, which crashed on Sept. 3, 2010, close to Dubai International Airport, killing the two crew members.
2012: Hurricane Sandy hits the East Coast of the United States, causing 72 direct deaths in eight states, leaving $65 billion in damages and creating major power outages.