1606 – The “Susan Constant,” “Godspeed” and “Discovery” set sail from London. Their landing at Jamestown, VA, was the start of the first permanent English settlement in America.
1699 – Peter the Great ordered that the Russian New Year be changed from September 1 to January 1.
1790 – The first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, RI.
1803 – The United States Senate ratified a treaty that included the Louisiana Territories from France for $15 million. The transfer was completed with formal ceremonies in New Orleans.
1820 – The state of Missouri enacted legislation to tax bachelors between the ages of 21-50 for being unmarried. The tax was $1 a year.
1860 – South Carolina became the first state to secede from the American Union.
1864 – Confederate forces evacuated Savannah, GA as Union Gen. William T. Sherman continued his “March to the Sea.”
1879 – Thomas A. Edison privately demonstrated his incandescent light at Menlo Park, NJ.
1880 – New York’s Broadway became known as the “Great White Way” when it was lighted by electricity.
1892 – Alexander T. Brown and George Stillman patented the pneumatic tire.
1928 – Mail delivery by dog sled began in Lewiston, ME.
1933 – The film “Flying Down to Rio” was first shown in New York.
1938 – Vladimir Kosma Zworykin patented the iconoscope television system.
1946 – The Frank Capra film “It’s A Wonderful Life” had a preview showing for charity at New York City’s Globe Theatre, a day before its “official” world premiere. James Stewart and Donna Reed star in the film.
1946 – In Indochina (Vietnam), full-scale guerrilla warfare between Vietnam partisans and French troops began.
1954 – Buick Motor Company signed Jackie Gleason to one of the largest contracts ever entered into with an entertainer. Gleason agreed to produce 78 half-hour shows over a two-year period for $6,142,500.
1962 – A world indoor pole-vault record was set by Don Meyers when he cleared 16 feet, 1-1/4 inches.
1963 – The Berlin Wall was opened for the first time to West Berliners. It was only for the holiday season. It closed again on January 6, 1964.
1968 – Author John Steinbeck died at the age of 66.
1973 – The Spanish premier Carrero Blanco was assassinated in Madrid.
1987 – More than 3,000 people were killed when the Dona Paz, a Philippine passenger ship, collided with the tanker Vector off Mindoro island, setting off a double explosion.
1989 – General Noriega, Panama’s former dictator, was overthrown by a United States invasion force invited by the new civilian government. The project was known as Operation Just Cause.
1991 – Ante Markovic resigned as federal Prime Minister of Yugoslavia.
1991 – Oliver Stone’s “JFK” opened in the U.S.
1994 – Marcelino Corniel, a homeless man, was shot and mortally wounded by White House security officers. He had brandished a knife near the executive mansion.
1994 – Ivan Lendl retired after a 17-year tennis career.
1995 – An American Airlines Boeing 757 en route to Cali, Colombia, crashed into a mountain, killing all but four of the 163 people aboard.
1996 – Doctors reported that a Cypriot woman who had taken fertility drugs was carrying about 11 embryos.
1998 – In Houston, TX, a 27-year-old woman gave birth to the only known living set of octuplets.
1999 – The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded couples of the opposite sex.
1999 – Sovereignty over the colony of Macao was transferred from Portugal to China.
2001 – The U.S. Congress passed a $20 billion package to finance the war against terrorism taking place in Afghanistan.
2001 – Argentina’s President Fernando De la Rua resigned after two years in power.
2001 – The first British peacekeepers arrived in Afghanistan to help the nation heal after decades of war.