1503 – Physician, astrologer and clairvoyant Nostradamus was born at St. Remy, Provence, France.
1798 – David Wilkinson of Rhode Island patented the nut and bolt machine.
1799 – The first president of the United States, George Washington, died at the age 67.
1819 – Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.
1896 – Gen. James H. Doolittle, who led the first air raid on Japan during World War II, was born.
1900 – Professor Max Planck of Berlin University revealed his revolutionary Quantum Theory.
1903 – Orville Wright made the first attempt at powered flight. The engine stalled during take-off and the plane was damaged in the attempt. Three days later, after repairs were made, the modern aviation age was born when the plane stayed aloft for 12 seconds and flew 102 feet.
1911 – Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole. He reached the destination 35 days ahead of Captain Robert F. Scott.
1918 – For the first time in Britain women (over 30) voted in a General Election.
1939 – The Soviet Union was dropped from the League of Nations.
1945 – Josef Kramer, known as “the beast of Belsen,” and 10 others were executed in Hamelin for the crimes they committed at the Belsen and Auschwitz Nazi concentration camps.
1946 – The U.N. General Assembly voted to establish the United Nation’s headquarters in New York City.
1959 – Archbishop Makarios was elected Cyprus’ first president.
1962 – The U.S. space probe Mariner II approached Venus. It transmitted information about the planet’s atmosphere and surface temperature.
1975 – Six South Moluccan terrorists surrendered to police after holding 23 people hostage for 12 days on a train near the Dutch town of Beilen.
1981 – Israel annexed the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in war in 1967.
1983 – The U.S. battleship New Jersey fired on Syrian positions in Lebanon for the first time after American F-14 reconnaissance flights were fired on.
1984 – Howard Cosell retired from the NFL’s Monday Night Football.
1985 – Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to lead a major American Indian tribe as she formally took office as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of OKlahoma.
1986 – The experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world. The trip took nine days to complete.
1987 – Chrysler pled no contest to federal charges of selling several thousand vehicles as new when Chrysler employees had driven the vehicles with the odometer disconnected.
1988 – CBS won the exclusive rights to major league baseball’s 1990-94 seasons for $1.1 billion.
1988 – The first transatlantic underwater fiber-optic cable went into service.
1990 – After 30 years in exile, ANC president Oliver Tambo returned to South Africa.
1993 – A judge in Colorado struck down the state’s voter-approved Amendment Two prohibiting gay rights laws, calling it unconstitutional.
1993 – The United Mine Workers approved a five-year contract that ended a strike that had reached seven states and involved some of the nation’s biggest coal operators.
1995 – The presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia signed the Dayton Accords to end fighting in Bosnia.
1995 – AIDS patient Jeff Getty received the first-ever bone-marrow transplant from a baboon.
1997 – Iran’s newest president, Mohammad Khatami, called for a dialogue with the people of the United States. The preceding Iranian leaders had reviled the U.S. as “The Great Satan.”
1997 – Mike Gartner (Phoenix Coyotes) became only the fifth player in National Hockey League (NHL) history to score 700 career goals.
1997 – Cuban President Fidel Castro declared Christmas 1997 an official holiday to ensure the success of Pope John Paul II’s upcoming visit to Cuba.
1998 – Hundreds of Palestinian leaders renounced a call for the destruction of Israel.
1999 – U.S. and German negotiators agreed to establish a $5.2 billion fund for Nazi-era slave and forced laborers.
1999 – Charles M. Schulz announced he was retiring the “Peanuts” comic strip. The last original “Peanuts” comic strip was published on February 13, 2000.
2000 – It was announced that American businessman Edmond Pope would be released from a Russian prison for humanitarian reasons. Pope had been sentenced to 20 years in prison after his conviction on espionage charges.
2001 – European Union leaders agreed to dispatch 3,000-4,000 troops to join an international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
2001 – The first commercial export, since 1963, of U.S. food to Cuba began. The 24,000 metric tons for corn were being sent to replenish what was lost when Hurricane Michelle struck on November 4.
2013 – The Chinese spacecraft Chang’e 3 became the first spacecraft to “soft”-land on the Moon since 1976. It was only the third robotic rover to land on the moon.