1488 – The Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Diaz landed at Mossal Bay in the Cape, the first European known to have landed on the southern extremity of Africa.
1690 – The first paper money in America was issued by the Massachusetts colony. The currency was used to pay soldiers that were fighting in the war against Quebec.
1783 – Spain recognized the independence of the United States.
1809 – The territory of Illinois was created.
1815 – The world’s first commercial cheese factory was established in Switzerland.
1862 – Thomas Edison printed the “Weekly Herald” and distributed it to train passengers traveling between Port Huron and Detroit, MI. It was the first time a newspaper had been printed on a train.
1869 – Edwin Booth opened his new theatre in New York City. The first production was “Romeo and Juliet”.
1900 – In Frankfort, KY, gubernatorial candidate William Goebels died from an assasin’s bullet wounds. On August 18, 1900, Ex-Sec. of State Caleb Powers was found guilt of conspiracy to murder Gov. Goebels.
1913 – The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It authorized the power to impose and collect income tax.
1916 – In Ottawa, Canada’s original parliament buildings burned down.
1917 – The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, which had announced a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.
1918 – The Twin Peaks Tunnel began service. It is the longest streetcar tunnel in the world at 11,920 feet.
1927 – The Federal Radio Commission was created when U.S. President Calvin Coolidge signed a bill.
1941 – In Vichy, France, the Nazis used force to restore Pierre Laval to office.
1945 – Russia agreed to enter World War II against Japan.
1946 – The first issue of “Holiday” magazine appeared.
1947 – Percival Prattisbecame the first black news correspondent admitted to the House and Senate press gallery in Washington, DC. He worked for “Our World” in New York City.
1951 – Dick Button won the U.S. figure skating title for the sixth time.
1951 – The Tennessee Williams play, “The Rose Tattoo”, opened on Broadway in New York.
1966 – The first rocket-assisted controlled landing on the Moon was made by the Soviet space vehicle Luna IX.
1969 – At the Palestinian National Congress in Cairo, Yasser Arafat was appointed leader of the PLO.
1972 – The first Winter Olympics in Asia were held at Sapporo, Japan.
1984 – Challenger 4 was launched as the tenth space shuttle mission.
1989 – South African politician P.W. Botha unwillingly resigned both party leadership and the presidency after suffering a stroke.
1998 – Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker. She was the first woman executed in the U.S. since 1984.
1998 – In Italy, a U.S. Military plane hit a cable causing the death of 20 skiers on a lift.
2009 – Eric Holder was sworn in as attorney general. He was the first African-American to hold the post.
2010 – The Alberto Giacometti sculpture L’Homme qui marche sold for $103.7 million.