1777 – France recognized American independence.
1791 – A traffic regulation in New York City established the first street to go “One Way.”
1830 – South American patriot Simon Bolivar died in Colombia.
1895 – George L. Brownell received a patent for his paper-twine machine.
1903 – The first successful gasoline-powered airplane flight took place near Kitty Hawk, NC. Orville and Wilbur Wright made the flight.
1925 – Col. William “Billy” Mitchell was convicted of insubordination at his court-martial.
1936 – The “The Rudy Vallee Show” debuted on NBC.
1939 – The German pocket battleship Graf Spee was scuttled by its crew, bringing the World War II Battle of the Rio de la Plata off Uruguay to an end.
1944 – The U.S. Army announced the end of its policy of excluding Japanese-Americans from the West Coast which ensured that Japanese-Americans were released from detention camps.
1953 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to approve RCA’s color television specifications.
1957 – The United States successfully test-fired the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.
1959 – The film “On the Beach” premiered in New York City and in 17 other cities. It was the first motion picture to debut simultaneously in major cities around the world.
1969 – The U.S. Air Force closed its Project “Blue Book” by concluding that there was no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.
1969 – Television history was made when Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki Budinger were married on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
1973 – Thirty-one people were killed at Rome airport when Arab guerillas hijacked a German airliner.
1975 – Lynette Fromme was sentenced to life in prison for her attempt on the life of U.S. President Ford.
1976 – WTCG-TV, Atlanta, GA, changed its call letters to WTBS, and was uplinked via satellite. The station became the first commercial TV station to cover the entire U.S.
1978 – OPEC decided to raise oil prices by 14.5% by the end of 1979.
1979 – Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive, was fatally beaten after a police chase in Miami, FL. Four white police officers were later acquitted of charges stemming from McDuffie’s death.
1986 – Wayne “Danke Schoen” Newton won a $19.2 million suit against NBC News. NBC had aired reports claiming a link between Newton and mob figures. The reports were proven to be false.
1986 – Davina Thompson became the world’s first recipient of a heart, lungs, and liver transplant.
1986 – Eugene Hasefus was pardoned and then released by Nicaragua. He had been convicted of running guns to the Contras.
1992 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari signed the North American Free Trade Agreement.
1992 – Israel deported over 400 Palestinians to Lebanese territory in an unprecedented mass expulsion of suspected militants.
1996 – Peruvian guerrillas took hundreds of people hostage at the Japanese embassy in Lima. The siege ended on April 22, 1997, with a commando raid that resulted in the deaths of all the rebels, two commandos and one hostage.
1996 – The Red Cross pulled all but a few of its western staff out of Chechnya after six foreign aid workers were killed by masked gunmen.
1997 – U.S. President Clinton signed the No Electronic Theft Act. The act removed protection from individuals who claimed that they took no direct financial gains from stealing copyrighted works and downloading them from the Internet.
1998 – U.S. House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston admitted he’d had extramarital affairs.
2000 – Terrell Owens (San Francisco 49ers) caught an NFL-record 20 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. The previous record was held by Tom Fears (Los Angeles Rams) with 18 catches on December 3, 1950, against the Green Bay Packers. Owens also broke Jerry Rice’s franchise record of 16 receptions set in 1994 against the Los Angeles Rams.
2002 – U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the Pentagon to have ready for use within two years a system for protecting American territory, troops and allies from ballistic missile attacks.
2002 – McDonald’s Corp. warned that they would report its first quarterly loss in its 47-year history.
2002 – The insurance and finance company Conseco Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection. It was the third-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
2002 – Congo’s government, opposition parties and rebels signed a peace agreement that ended four years of civil war.
2004 – U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law the largest overhaul of U.S. intelligence gathering in 50 years. The bill aimed to tighten borders and aviation security. It also created a federal counterterrorism center and a new intelligence director.