1864: Four prospectors founded Helena, Mont., after discovering gold at “Last Chance Gulch.”
1938: Orson Welles (1915-1985) caused a nationwide panic with his radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, a realistic dramatization of an invasion from Mars. Welles was 23 at the time.
1963: The first Lamborghini car debuted in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy.
1974: Major League Baseball player Nolan Ryan (born 1947) threw the fastest recorded pitch, 100.8 mph, while on the California Angels.
1985: Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off for its final successful mission. (It exploded during takeoff on Jan. 28, 1986.)
2002: A federal grand jury in Houston indicted former Enron Corp. CFO Andrew Fastow (born 1961) on 78 charges of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to the collapse of his former employer.
2011: The global population of humans reached seven billion. This day is now recognized by the United Nations as Seven Billion Day.
1503: Pope Julius II (1443-1513), “The Warrior Pope,” was elected. (He ordered the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica, and commissioned Michaelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel.)
1968: The Motion Picture Association of America introduced its film rating system, with the ratings G, M, R, and X.
1982: Honda became the first Asian automobile company to build cars in the United States with the opening of its factory in Marysville, Ohio. The Honda Accord became the first car produced there.
1993: The Maastricht Treaty took effect, formally establishing the European Union.
2001: The National Weather Service revised the winter wind-chill index, making it “colder.”
1889: North Dakota and South Dakota became the 39th and 40th states.
2000: The first resident crew on the International Space Station disembarked from their Soyuz TM-31 spacecraft.
1783: Highwayman John Austin (age unknown) became the last person to be publicly hanged at London’s Tyburn gallows.
1868: John Willis Menard (1838-1893) of Louisiana became the first African American elected to Congress. (Racist outcry against his election prevented him from being seated.)
1964: Residents of Washington D.C. were able to vote in a presidential election for the first time.
1969: President Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) coined the term “silent majority” in a national speech seeking widespread public support for the war in Vietnam.
1986: The Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa reported that the United States had been secretly selling weapons to Iran in order to secure the release of seven American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.
1833: Mary Todd (1818-1882) married Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) in Springfield, Ill.
1 2014: Elise Stefanik, 30, of upstate New York, became the youngest woman elected to Congress. Mia Love, 38, of Saratoga Springs, Utah, became the first black Republican woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
1499: The first French dictionary and the first Breton dictionary, the Catholicon, was published in Tréguier, Brittany, France. This Breton-French-Latin dictionary was written in 1464 by Jehan Lagadeuc (age unknown).
1943: Vatican City State, home of the pope and center of worldwide Catholicism, was bombed for the first time, by an Allied war plane. Damage was minor, with no reported deaths or injuries. (The Vatican was neutral during World War II, and Allied and Axis aircraft were told to respect its neutrality when bombing Rome.)
1955: After being destroyed in World War II, the rebuilt Vienna State Opera reopened with a performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio.