1747: The first venereal diseases clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.
1865: As the Civil War began winding down, Confed-erate general and traitor Rob-ert E. Lee became general-in-chief.
1915: During World War I, Germany became the first country to make large-scale use of poison gas in warfare, in the Battle of Bolimo w against Russia.
1917: During World War I, Germany announced the re-newal of unlimited subma-rine warfare in the Atlantic after a two-year hiatus, and German torpedo-armed sub-marines prepared to attack any and all ships, including civilian passenger carriers, seen in war-zone waters.
1930: 3M began market-ing Scotch Tape.
1945: Pvt. Eddie Slovik of Detroit became the first American soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion, and the only one to earn such a fate during World War II. He was killed by a 12-man firing squad near the village of Ste-Marie aux Mines, France.
1949: The first TV soap opera, These Are My Chil-dren, was broadcast by the NBC station in Chicago.
1950: U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly an-nounced his decision to sup-port the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon hundreds of times more pow-erful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.
1958: The first American satellite, Explorer 1, was launched.
1990: The first McDon-ald’s in the Soviet Union opened in Moscow.
451: St. Brigid of Ireland was born in Kildare.
1861: In the run-up to the Civil War, Texas seceded from the United States.
1884: The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary was published.
1893: Thomas A. Edison finished construction of the first motion picture studio, the Black Maria, in West Or-ange, New Jersey.
1918: Russia adopted the Gregorian calendar, the last major nation to do so.
1957: Felix Wankel’s first working prototype of the Wankel rotary engine ran at the NSU research and devel-opment department Versuch-sabteilung TX in Germany.
1960: Four black students staged the first of the Greens-boro sit-ins at a lunch coun-ter in Greensboro, North Car-olina.
1964: The Beatles had their first No. 1 hit in the United States with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
1995: Richey Edwards, lyricist and guitarist for ‘Manic Street Preachers,’ dis-appeared in England at age 27. (He was declared “presumed dead” on Nov. 23, 2008.)
2002: Daniel Pearl, Ameri-can journalist and South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, kidnapped Jan. 23, 2002, was beheaded and mutilated by his captors.
2003: Space Shuttle Co-lumbia on mission STS-107 disintegrated during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
2004: Janet Jackson’s breast was briefly exposed during the half-time show of Super Bowl XXXVIII, resulting in U.S. broadcasters adopting a stronger adherence to Fed-eral Communications Com-mission censorship guide-lines.
1653: New Amsterdam (later renamed The City of New York) was incorporated.
1887: The first Groundhog Day was observed, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
1905: Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Died 1982.)
1914: Charlie Chaplin made his first film appear-ance in the movie Making a Living.
1925: Dog sleds reached Nome, Alaska, with diphthe-ria serum from Anchorage, inspiring the Iditarod race.
1935: Leonarde Keeler (1903-1949) tested the first polygraph machine, in Los Angeles, Calif.
1942: The first active re-sistance against the Nazi re-gime occurred in occupied Norway when the Osvald Group blew up Østbanehallen (at present-day Oslo Central Station) to protest the inau-guration of Norwegian traitor and Nazi collaborationist Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945).
1969: Actor Boris Karloff, most famous for his portrayal as Frankenstein’s monster, died in Midhurst, Sussex, England, at age 81.
1996: Actor, singer, danc-er, choreographer and movie director Gene Kelly (“Singing in the Rain”) died in Beverly Hills, Calif., at age 83.
1488: Portuguese sea cap-tain Bartolomeu Dias landed in Mossel Bay after rounding the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, becom-ing the first known European to travel that far south.
1637: The tulip industry collapsed in what is now the Netherlands, as sellers could no longer find buyers for their extraordinarily inflated bulb contracts. (Known as “tulip mania,” the expansion and collapse is widely recog-nized as the first speculative economic bubble.)
1690: The British colony of Massachusetts issued the first paper money in the Americas.
1783: Spain officially rec-ognized the United States in the final year of the American Revolutionary War:
1809: The Territory of Illinois was created by the 10th United States Congress.
1870: The Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Con-stitution was ratified, guaran-teeing voting rights to citi-zens regardless of race.
1913: The Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Con-stitution was ratified, author-izing the federal government to impose and collect an in-come tax.
1917: The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Germany during World War I, a day after Germany announced a new policy of unrestricted submarine war-fare.
1945: In the final months of World War II, 1,000 B-17 bombers of the Eighth Air Force bombed Berlin, Germa-ny, a raid that killed about 3,000 people and left another 120,000 homeless.
1947: The lowest temper-ature in North America, mi-nus 83.0 degrees F (63.9 de-grees C) , was recorded in Snag, Yukon, Canada.
1958: The Benelux Eco-nomic Union between Bel-gium, Netherlands, and Lux-embourg was founded, creat-ing a testing ground for the European Union.
1959: Rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly (age 22), Ritchie Valens (age 17), and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (age 28) were killed in a plane crash outside Clear Lake, Iowa.
1961: The U.S. Air Force began Operation Looking Glass, and over the next 30 years, a “Doomsday Plane” was always in the air, with the capability of taking direct control of U.S. bombers and missiles in the event of the destruction of the Strategic Air Command’s command post.
1966: The first rocket-assisted landing on the Moon occurred when the un-manned Soviet Luna 9 space-craft landed.
1972: The deadliest snowstorm in history began with the first day of the seven-day 1972 Iran blizzard, which killed at least 4,000 people.
1984: A research team at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center performed the world’s first embryo transfer, from one woman to another, resulting in a live birth.
1787: Shays’ rebellion ended in Petersham, Mass.
1789: George Washington was unanimously elected first president of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College, in the only unani-mous electoral vote to date.
1846: The first Mormon pioneers left from Nauvoo, Ill., headed west toward their then-unknown destination of the Salt Lake Valley.
1861: Delegates from six seceded U.S. states met in Montgomery, Ala., and formed the traitorous Con-federate States of America.
1912: Franz Reichelt, tailor, fell to his death off the first deck of the Eiffel Tower while testing his invention, the overcoat parachute. It was his first ever attempt with the parachute.
1941: The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in Arlington, Va., to entertain American troops.
1974: The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst in Berkeley, Calif.
1977: A Chicago Transit Authority elevated train rear-ended another and derailed, killing 11 and injuring 180; it remains the worst accident in the agency’s history.
1986: Hrand Arakelian, a Brink’s armored truck guard, was crushed by several 25-pound boxes of quarters when the driver braked sud-denly in Los Angeles, Calif.
2003: The Federal Repub-lic of Yugoslavia was officially renamed Serbia and Monte-negro and adopted a new constitution.
2004: Facebook, an online social networking site, was launched by self-described hacker and thief Mark Zuck-erberg.
1840: Born this day: Scot-tish businessman John Boyd Dunlop, co-founder of Dunlop Rubber (died 1921); and engineer Hiram Maxim, in-vented the Maxim gun, the first machine gun (died 1916).
1869: The largest alluvial gold nugget in history, called the “Welcome Stranger” weighing 3,123 ounces, was found in Moliagul, Victoria, Australia.
1887: San Francisco re-ceived 3 feet 7 inches of snow.
1909: Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland announced that he had created Bakelite (BAY-kə-lyt), the world’s first synthetic plastic.
1917: The current consti-tution of Mexico was adopt-ed, establishing a federal republic with powers sepa-rated into independent exec-utive, legislative and judicial branches. The U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto; also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, it prohibited immi-gration from nearly all of south and southeast Asia.
1918: Flight bombardier and tail gunner Stephen W. Thompson became the first person in U.S. military history to shoot down an enemy plane, a German Albatros D.III biplane over Saarbru ck-en, Germany. The SS Tuscania was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland, becoming the first ship carrying American troops to Europe to be torpe-doed and sunk.
1924: The Royal Green-wich Observatory began broadcasting the hourly time signals known as the Green-wich Time Signal or the “BBC pips.”
1937: President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a plan to enlarge the Supreme Court of the United States so he could pack it with justices who supported his policies. (The plan was defeated.)
1945: Gen. Douglas Mac-Arthur honored his promise made two years earlier and returned to the Philippines.
1958 A hydrogen bomb known as the Tybee Bomb was lost in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Savannah, Ga., by the U.S. Air Force and nev-er recovered.
1976: The 1976 swine flu outbreak began at Fort Dix, N.J.
1985: Ugo Vetere, then-mayor of Rome, Italy, and Chedli Klibi, then-mayor of Carthage, Tunisia, met in Tunis to sign a treaty official-ly ending the Third Punic War, which lasted 2,131 years.
1994: Byron De La Beck-with was convicted of the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Sup-porters at the trial displayed Confederate flags as a symbol of their hatred for non-whites, Jews, and Catholics.
2008: A major tornado outbreak across the Southern United States killed 57 people and caused over $1 billion in damage.
1789: Massachusetts rati-fied 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.
1819: The city-state of Singapore was founded.
1820: The first 86 African American immigrants spon-sored by the American Colo-nization Society departed New York to start a settle-ment in present-day Liberia, Africa.
1843: The first minstrel show in the United States, The Virginia Minstrels, opened at Bowery Amphithe-atre in New York City.
1952: Elizabeth II became queen regnant of the United Kingdom and the other Com-monwealth realms upon the death of her father, George VI. At the exact moment of succession, she was in a tree-house at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya.
1959: Jack Kilby (1923-2005) of Texas Instruments filed the first patent for an integrated circuit.
1960: American R&B sing-er Jesse Belvin died in a car wreck in Hope, Ark., at age 27.
1978: The Blizzard of 1978, one of the worst Nor’easters in New England history, hit the region, with sustained winds of 65 mph and snowfall of four inches an hour.
1988: Michael Jordan made his first slam dunk from the free throw line, in-spiring Air Jordan.