1799 – Andrew Ellicott Douglass witnesses the Leonids meteor shower from a ship off the Florida Keys.
1815 – American suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born in Johnstown, NY.
1840 – Sculptor Auguste Rodin was born in Paris. His most widely known works are “The Kiss” and “The Thinker.”
1859 – The first flying trapeze act was performed by Jules Leotard at Cirque Napoleon in Paris, France. He was also the designer of the garment that is named after him.
1892 – William “Pudge” Heffelfinger became the first professional football player when he was paid a $500 bonus for helping the Allegheny Athletic Association beat the Pittsburgh Athletic Club.
1915 – Theodore W. Richards, of Harvard University, became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
1918 – Austria and Czechoslovakia were declared independent republics.
1920 – Judge Keneshaw Mountain Landis was elected the first commissioner of the American and National Leagues.
1921 – Representatives of nine nations gathered for the start of the Washington Conference for Limitation of Armaments.
1927 – Joseph Stalin became the undisputed ruler of the Soviet Union. Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party leading to Stalin coming to power.
1931 – Maple Leaf Gardens opened in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was to be the new home of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League (NHL).
1933 – In Philadelphia, the first Sunday football game was played.
1940 – Walt Disney released “Fantasia.”
Disney movies, music and books
1942 – During World War II, naval battle of Guadalcanal began between Japanese and American forces. The Americans won a major victory.
1944 – During World War II, the German battleship “Tirpitz” was sunk off the coast of Norway.
1946 – The first drive-up banking facility opened at the Exchange National Bank in Chicago, IL.
1948 – The war crimes tribunal sentenced Japanese Premier Hideki Tojo and six other World War II Japanese leaders to death.
1953 – The National Football League (NFL) policy of blacking out home games was upheld by Judge Allan K. Grim of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
1954 – Ellis Island, the immigration station in New York Harbor, closed after processing more than 20 million immigrants since 1892.
1964 – Paula Murphy set the female land speed record 226.37 MPH.
1972 – Don Shula, coach of the Miami Dolphins, became the first NFL head coach to win 100 regular season games in 10 seasons.
1975 – U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas retired because of failing health, ending a record 36½-year term.
1980 – The U.S. space probe Voyager I came within 77,000 miles of Saturn while transmitting data back to Earth.
1982 – Yuri V. Andropov was elected to succeed the late Leonid I. Brezhnev as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee.
1984 – Space shuttle astronauts Dale Gardner and Joe Allen snared the Palapa B-2 satellite in history’s first space salvage.
1985 – In Norfolk, VA, Arthur James Walker was sentenced to life in prison for his role in a spy ring run by his brother, John A. Walker Jr.
1987 – The American Medical Association issued a policy statement that said it was unethical for a doctor to refuse to treat someone solely because that person had AIDS or was HIV-positive.
1990 – Japanese Emperor Akihito formally assumed the Chrysanthemum Throne.
1991 – In the U.S., Robert Gates was sworn in as CIA director.
1995 – The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off on a mission to dock with the Russian space station Mir.
1997 – Four Americans and their Pakistani driver were shot to death in Karachi, Pakistan. The Americans were oil company employees.
1997 – The UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on Iraq for constraints being placed on UN arms inspectors.
1997 – Ramzi Yousef was found guilty of masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
1998 – Daimler-Benz completed a merger with Chrysler to form Daimler-Chrysler AG.
2001 – American Airlines flight 587 crashed just minutes after take off from Kennedy Airport in New York. The Airbus A300 crashed into the Rockaway Beach section of Queens. All 260 people aboard were killed.
2001 – It was reported that the Northern Alliance had taken the Kabul, Afghanistan, from the ruling Taliban. The Norther Alliance at this point was reported to have control over most of the northern areas of Afghanistan.
2002 – Stan Lee filed a lawsuit against Marvel Entertainment Inc. that claimed the company had cheated him out of millions of dollars in movie profits related to the 2002 movie “Spider-Man.” Lee was the creator of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Daredevil.