1911: Whisky distiller Jack Daniel died from blood poisoning as a result of an infection in one of his toes. (The toe had become infected after he injured it while kicking his safe in anger because he could not remember the combination.)
1913: Construction of the Panama Canal was officially completed.
2002: Mike Taylor, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate against Montana Democrat Max Baucus, dropped out of the race 26 days before the election after TV ads revealed he had been involved in defrauding the U.S. government when he was operating a beauty school in Colorado in the 1990s.
1910: Former President Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly in an airplane. He flew for four minutes with Arch Hoxsey in a plane built by the Wright Brothers at Kinloch Field (now Lambert-St. Louis International Airport), St. Louis, Mo.
1961: Air Force pilot Robert Michael White piloted the X-15 rocket jet to 215,000 feet, setting a record.
1975: Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC with George Carlin as host.
1976: George Washington was promoted posthumously to General of the Armies of the United States in a law passed by Congress and signed by President Gerald R. Ford.
1773: America’s first insane asylum, The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds, in Williamsburg, Va., admitted its first patient.
1792: The first celebration of Columbus Day in the United States was held in New York City.
1799: Jeanne Geneviève Labrosse became the first woman to jump from a hot-air balloon with a parachute, from an altitude of 2,950 feet over Paris.
1810: The first Oktoberfest was celebrated in Munich, Germany.
1892: The Pledge of Allegiance was first recited by students in many U.S. public schools, as part of a celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage.
1901: President Theodore Roosevelt officially renamed the Executive Mansion the White House.
1775: The United States Continental Congress ordered the establishment of the Continental Navy, later renamed the United States Navy.
1792: The cornerstone for the White House (then called the Executive Mansion) was laid in Washington, D.C.
1884: Several countries adopted Greenwich longitude as the prime meridian.
1892: Comet D/1892 T1 became the first comet discovered by photographic means, by astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard on the night of Oct. 13-14.
1967: The first game of the American Basketball Association was played in Oakland, Calif., as the Anaheim Amigos lost to the Oakland Oaks, 134-129.
1976: Dr. F.A. Murphy obtained the first electron micrograph of an Ebola virus while working at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
1926: Children’s book Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne was first published.
1947: U.S. Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager flew a Bell X-1 rocket-powered experimental aircraft faster than the speed of sound over the high desert of Southern California, becoming the first pilot and the first airplane in level flight to create a sonic boom.
1968: Jim Hines of the USA became the first man ever to break the so-called “10-second barrier” in the 100-meter sprint, at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, with a time of 9.95 seconds.
2012: Felix Baungartner jumped from the stratosphere and set the world record for longest free fall of 128,018 feet (24¼ miles).
1863: The H. L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship, sank during a test in Charleston Bay, killing its inventor, Horace L. Hunley.
1945: Pierre Laval, the former premier of Vichy France, and a Nazi collaborator during World War II, was executed for treason by a firing squad.
1946: Born this day: singer-songwriter Richard Carpenter (The Carpenters), and actor John Getz (Three’s Company, How I Met Your Mother, The King of Queens).
1951: The first episode of I Love Lucy, starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley, aired on CBS.
1997: The first supersonic land speed record was set by English driver Andy Green in ThrustSSC, 50 years and one day after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier.
1793: Marie-Antoinette was beheaded on the guillotine in Paris, nine months after her husband, King Louis XVI of France.
1846: William T. G. Morton, a dentist, first demonstrated ether anesthesia at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the Ether Dome.
1860: Grace Bedell, 11, of Westfield, New York, wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln suggesting that he could improve his appearance if her grew a beard.
2012: The extrasolar planet Alpha Centauri Bb was discovered.