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- 1170 – Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, is assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church.
- 1778 – American Revolutionary War: 3,000 British soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell capture Savannah, Georgia.
- 1786 – French Revolution: The Assembly of Notables is convened.
- 1812 – The USS Constitution under the command of Captain William Bainbridge, captures the HMS Java off the coast of Brazil after a three hour battle.
- 1813 – British soldiers burn Buffalo, New York during the War of 1812.
- 1835 – The Treaty of New Echota is signed, ceding all the lands of the Cherokee east of the Mississippi River to the United States.
- 1845 – In accordance with International Boundary delimitation, United States annexes the Mexican state of Texas, following the Manifest Destiny doctrine. The Republic of Texas, which had been independent since the Texas Revolution of 1836, is thereupon admitted as the 28th U.S. state.
- 1851 – The first American YMCA opens in Boston, Massachusetts.
- 1860 – The first British seagoing iron-clad warship, HMS Warrior is launched.
- 1876 – The Ashtabula River Railroad bridge disaster occurs, leaving 64 injured and 92 dead at Ashtabula, Ohio.
- 1890 – United States soldiers kill more than 200 Oglala Lakota people with four Hotchkiss guns in the Wounded Knee Massacre.
- 1911 – Sun Yat-sen becomes the provisional President of the Republic of China; he formally takes office on January 1, 1912.
- 1911 – Mongolia gains independence from the Qing dynasty.
- 1914 – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the first novel by James Joyce, is serialised in The Egoist.
- 1930 – Sir Muhammad Iqbal's presidential address in Allahabad introduces the Two-Nation Theory and outlines a vision for the creation of Pakistan.
- 1934 – Japan renounces the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
- 1937 – The Irish Free State is replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.
- 1939 – First flight of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.
- 1940 – World War II: In The Second Great Fire of London, the Luftwaffe fire-bombs London, killing almost 200 civilians.
- 1949 – KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut becomes the first Ultra high frequency (UHF) television station to operate a daily schedule.
- 1959 – Physicist Richard Feynman gives a speech entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom", which is regarded as the birth of nanotechnology.
- 1959 – The Lisbon Metro begins operation.
- 1972 – An Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 (a Lockheed Tristar) crashes on approach to Miami International Airport, Florida, killing 101.
- 1975 – A bomb explodes at LaGuardia Airport in New York, New York, killing 11 people and injuring 74.
- 1989 – Riots break-out after Hong Kong decides to forcibly repatriate Vietnamese refugees.
- 1992 – Fernando Collor de Mello, president of Brazil, tries to resign amidst corruption charges, but is then impeached.
- 1996 – Guatemala and leaders of Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union sign a peace accord ending a 36-year civil war.
- 1997 – Hong Kong begins to kill all the nation's 1.25 million chickens to stop the spread of a potentially deadly influenza strain.
- 1998 – Leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologize for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed over 1 million lives.
- 2001 – A fire at the Mesa Redonda shopping center in Lima, Peru, kills at least 291.
- 2003 – The last known speaker of Akkala Sami dies, rendering the language extinct.
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