1737: The first newspaper in the United States, the News-Letter, began publishing in Boston.
1800: The U.S. Library of Congress was established when President John Adams signed legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.”
1916: Ernest Shackleton and five men of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition launched a lifeboat from uninhabited Elephant Island in the Southern Ocean to organize a rescue for the ice-trapped ship Endurance.
1953: Winston Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
2005: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was inaugurated as the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, taking the name Pope Benedict XVI. “Snuppy” became the first cloned dog, an Afghan hound, in South Korea.
1859: British and French engineers broke ground for the Suez Canal to connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
1903: New York became the first U.S. state to require automobile license plates.
1935: In Sydney, Australia, a recently captured, 14-foot-long tiger shark in a public aquarium went into spasms and, in full view of spectators, disgorged a tattooed human arm with rope tied around the wrist. (Investigators determined it was the arm of a small-time crook named James Smith, who had been murdered, dismembered and dumped into the ocean.)
1953: Francis Crick and James D. Watson published “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid” describing the double helix structure of DNA.
1959: The St. Lawrence Seaway, linking the North American Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, officially opened to shipping.
1974: Workers for the Dowling Construction Co. of Indianapolis left a five-ton steel wrecking ball hanging from a crane 200 feet above the ground. When they returned the next morning, the ball was gone. Police had no explanation and the ball was never found.
1983: Pioneer 10 traveled beyond Pluto’s orbit to become the first manmade object to leave the Solar System. American schoolgirl Samantha Smith was invited to visit the Soviet Union by its leader Yuri Andropov after he read her letter in which she expressed fears about nuclear war.
1564: Playwright William Shakespeare was baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England (date of actual birth is unknown).
1607: English colonists made landfall at Cape Henry, Virginia.
1933: The Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, was 1965: A Rolling Stones concert in London, Ontario, was shut down by police after 15 minutes due to rioting.
1986: A nuclear reactor accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Soviet Union (now Ukraine), created the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
1861: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln suspended the write of habeas corpus.
1974: Ten thousand people marched in Washington, D.C., calling for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon
1987: The U.S. Department of Justice barred Austrian President Kurt Waldheim from entering the United States, saying he had aided in the deportation and execution of thousands of Jews and others as a German Army officer during World War II.
1869: Chinese and Irish laborers for the Central Pacific Railroad working on the First Transcontinental Railroad laid 10 miles of track in one day, a feat that has never been matched.
1932: Yellow fever vaccine was introduced.
1986: The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise became the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal, navigating from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
2014: Pope Frances canonized two of his predecessors, John XXIII and John Paul II, in the first dual-sainthood ceremony of former popes in history. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI was present, marking the first time two living popes attended a sainthood ceremony.
1945: The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by U.S. troops. The HMS Goodall K479 became the last Royal Navy ship sunk by a Nazi submarine torpedo in World War II.
1967: Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing title one day after refusing induction into the U.S. Army for “religious reasons.”
1803: The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, more than doubling the size of the young nation.
1812: The Territory of Orleans became the 18th U.S. state under the name Louisiana.
1900: Hawaii became a territory of the United States with Sanford B. Dole as governor.
1927: Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford became the first celebrities to leave their footprints in concrete at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
1938: The animated cartoon short Porky’s Hare Hunt debuted in movie theaters, introducing Happy Rabbit, a prototype of Bugs Bunny.