1789: Massachusetts ratified the U.S. Constitution.
1815: New Jersey granted the first American railroad charter to Col. John Stevens III, inventor who built the first steam locomotive.
1952: Elizabeth II became queen regnant of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms upon the death of her father, George VI. At the exact moment of succession, she was in a treehouse at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya.
1988: Michael Jordan made his first slam dunk from the free throw line, inspiring Air Jordan and the Jumpman logo.
1998: Washington National Airport was renamed Ronald Reagan National Airport.
1497: The bonfire of the vanities occurred in which supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burned thousands of objects such as cosmetics, art and books in Florence, Italy.
1812: Author Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England. The strongest in a series of earthquakes struck New Madrid, Missouri.
1904: A fire in Baltimore, Md., destroyed over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours.
1935: The board game Monopoly was invented.
1940: The second full-length animated Walt Disney film, Pinocchio, premiered.
1962: The United States banned all Cuban imports and exports.
1964: The Beatles first arrived in the United States. Their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show two days later marked the beginning of the British Invasion.
1979: Pluto moved inside Neptune’s orbit for the first time since either was discovered.
1990: The dissolution of the Soviet Union began as the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agreed to give up its monopoly on power.
1992: The Maastricht Treaty was signed, leading to the creation of the European Union. (Maastricht is the oldest continually inhabited city in the Netherlands, founded by the Roman Empire in the 1st century A.D.)
1693: The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., was granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II.
1802: Simon Willard was granted a patent for the banjo clock.
1837: Richard Johnson became the first U.S. Vice President chosen by the U.S. Senate.
1910: The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated by William D. Boyce.
1922: President Warren G. Harding brought the first radio into the White House.
1952: Elizabeth II was proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom.
1963: The first publicly advertised full-color television program in the world was broadcast in Mexico City by XHGC-TV, Channel 5, due to technical breakthrough advances made by Mexican Engineer Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena.
1965: Wayne Estes, a graduate of Anaconda High School in Anaconda, Mont., as well as a star basketball player for Utah State University and a presumed NBA draft pick, was electrocuted when he and a teammate stopped to help at a nighttime car wreck. Estes brushed against a downed power line and died instantly.
1971: The NASDAQ stock market index opened for the first time.
1978: The proceedings of the U.S. Senate were broadcast on radio for the first time.
1993: General Motors sued NBC after Dateline NBC allegedly rigged two crashes intended to demonstrate that some GM pickups can easily catch fire if hit in certain places. (NBC settled the lawsuit the next day.)
2013: A blizzard disrupted transportation and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity in the Northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada.
1773: William Henry Harrison, ninth U.S. president, was born in Berkeley, Va.
1825: After no presidential candidate received a majority of electoral votes in the election of 1824, the U.S. House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams as president.
1861: Jefferson Davis was named president of the Confederate States of America.
1870: President Ulysses S. Grant signed a joint resolution of Congress establishing the U.S. Weather Bureau.
1895: William G. Morgan created a game called Mintonette, which soon became referred to as volleyball.
1942: Year-round daylight-saving time was re-instated in the United States as a wartime measure to help conserve energy.
1950: U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy accused the U.S. Department of State of being filled with communists.
1964: The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show before a record TV audience of 73 million viewers.
1965: The first U.S. combat troops were sent to South Vietnam.
1861: Jefferson Davis was notified by telegraph that he had been chosen as provisional president of the Confederate States of America.
1870: The YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) was founded in New York City.
1883: Ontario, Canada’s, first free public library opened in Guelph.
1954: President Dwight Eisenhower warned against U.S. intervention in Vietnam.
1967: The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified; among other things, it limits a U.S. president to two terms. Born this day: actress Laura Dern (Jurassic Park), and producer/director Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad).
1975: Dave Alexander, bassist for Iggy and the Stooges, died of pulmonary edema (vomit in the lungs) in Ann Arbor, Mich., age 27.
1981: A fire at the Las Vegas Hilton hotel-casino killed eight people and injured 198.
1989: Ronald Harmon “Ron” Brown (1941-1996) was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, becoming the first African American to lead a major American political party.
1996: IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov (1963- ) in chess for the first time.
1998: Voters in Maine repealed a gay rights law passed in 1997 to become the first U.S. state to abandon such a law.
660 BC: Japan was founded by Emperor Jimmu.
1534: King Henry VIII of England became the supreme head of the Church of England.
1752: Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital in the United States, was opened by Benjamin Franklin.
1790: The Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, petitioned the U.S. Congress to abolish slavery.
1794: The first session of the U.S. Senate opened to the public.
1808: Coal was first used as a fuel for heating homes, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
1812: Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814) “gerrymandered” for the first time.
1858: Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879) saw her first of 18 visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a natural spring in Lourdes, France. (The last occurred on July 16, 1858.)
1938: BBC Television produced the world’s first science-fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Čapek play R.U.R., that coined the term “robot.”
1939: A Lockheed P-38 Lightning flew from California to New York in seven hours two minutes, averaging about 428 mph.
1978: China lifted its ban on works by Aristotle, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
1990: Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison outside Cape Town, South Africa, after 27 years as a political prisoner. In one of the largest upsets in sports history, Buster Douglas, a 40-1 underdog, knocked out Mike Tyson in 10 rounds in Tokyo to win the boxing world heavyweight title.
2001: A Dutch programmer launched the Anna Kournikova virus, infecting millions of emails via a trick photo of the tennis star.
2010: U.S. pennies with a new “union shield” design on the back were officially released at a ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Ill.
1733: Englishman James Oglethorpe founded Georgia, the 13th of the original 13 colonies, and its first city at Savannah.
1914: The first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was put into place in Washington, D.C.
1924: George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue premiered in Aeolian Hall, New York, with Gershwin playing piano accompanied by Paul Whiteman and his band.
1935: The USS Macon, one of the two largest helium-filled airships ever built, crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California and sank, killing two of 76 crew members.
1947: A shower of meteorites created several impact craters in Sikhote-Alin in the Soviet Union. The largest crater was 85 feet across.
1954: British food company J. Lyons & Co. used the LEO computer to produce a payroll report, becoming the first time in history that a computer was used in business.
1959: The newly redesigned U.S. penny with the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side was officially released on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.
Bill Clinton was acquitted by the U.S. Senate in his impeachment trial.
2000: Charles M. Schulz, creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, died in Santa Rosa, Calif., age 77.
2001: The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous-Shoemaker spacecraft touched down in the “saddle” region of 433 Eros, becoming the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid.
2009: The U.S. Mint issued the first of four new Lincoln pennies. This one has a log cabin on the back to depict his birth and early childhood. It was issued on the 200th anniversary of the 16th president’s birth at a special ceremony at LaRue County High School in Hodgenville, Ky., Lincoln’s birthplace.