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- 480 – Odoacer, first Germanic king of Italy, occupies Dalmatia and establishes his political power with the co-operation of the Roman Senate.
- 730 – Battle of Marj Ardabil: the Khazars annihilate an Umayyad army and kill its commander, al-Djarrah ibn Abdullah.
- 1425 – The Catholic University of Leuven is founded.
- 1531 – The Virgin of Guadalupe first appears to Juan Diego at Tepeyac, Mexico City.
- 1775 – American Revolutionary War: British troops lose the Battle of Great Bridge, and leave Virginia soon afterward.
- 1793 – New York City's first daily newspaper, the American Minerva, is established by Noah Webster.
- 1824 – Patriot forces led by General Antonio José de Sucre defeat a Royalist army in the Battle of Ayacucho, putting an end to the Peruvian War of Independence.
- 1835 – The Texian Army captures San Antonio, Texas.
- 1851 – The first YMCA in North America is established in Montreal, Quebec.
- 1856 – The Iranian city of Bushehr surrenders to occupying British forces.
- 1861 – American Civil War: The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War is established by the U.S. Congress.
- 1872 – In Louisiana, P. B. S. Pinchback becomes the first serving African-American governor of a U.S. state.
- 1875 – The Massachusetts Rifle Association, "America's Oldest Active Gun Club", is founded.
- 1888 – Statistician Herman Hollerith installs his computing device at the United States War Department.
- 1897 – Activist Marguerite Durand founds the feminist daily newspaper, La Fronde, in Paris.
- 1905 – In France, the law separating church and state is passed.
- 1911 – A mine explosion near Briceville, Tennessee, kills 84 miners in spite of rescue efforts led by the United States Bureau of Mines.
- 1917 – World War I: In Palestine, Field Marshal Edmund Allenby captures Jerusalem.
- 1922 – Gabriel Narutowicz is announced the first president of Poland.
- 1931 – The Constituent Cortes approves the constitution which establishes the Second Spanish Republic.
- 1935 – Walter Liggett, American newspaper editor and muckraker, is killed in gangland murder.
- 1937 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Nanjing – Japanese troops under the command of Lt. Gen. Asaka Yasuhiko launch an assault on the Chinese city of Nanjing.
- 1940 – World War II: Operation Compass – British and Indian troops under the command of Major-General Richard O'Connor attack Italian forces near Sidi Barrani in Egypt.
- 1941 – World War II: The Republic of China, Cuba, Guatemala, the Republic of Korea, and the Philippine Commonwealth, declare war on Germany and Japan.
- 1941 – World War II: The 19th Bombardment Group attacks Japanese ships off the coast of Vigan, Luzon.
- 1946 – The "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" begin with the "Doctors' Trial", prosecuting doctors alleged to be involved in human experimentation.
- 1946 – The Constituent Assembly of India meets for the first time to write the Constitution of India.
- 1950 – Harry Gold is sentenced to 30 years in jail for helping Klaus Fuchs pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union. His testimony is later instrumental in the prosecution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
- 1953 – Red Scare: General Electric announces that all communist employees will be discharged from the company.
- 1956 – Trans-Canada Air Lines Flight 810, a Canadair North Star, crashes near Hope, British Columbia, Canada, killing all 62 people on board.
- 1958 – The John Birch Society is founded in the United States.
- 1960 – The first episode of the world's longest-running television soap opera Coronation Street is broadcast in the United Kingdom.
- 1961 – The trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Israel ends with verdicts of guilty on 15 criminal charges, including charges of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and membership of an outlawed organization.
- 1961 – Tanganyika becomes independent from Britain.
- 1962 – The Petrified Forest National Park is established in Arizona.
- 1965 – The Kecksburg UFO incident: a fireball is seen from Michigan to Pennsylvania; witnesses report something crashing in the woods near Pittsburgh. In 2005 NASA admits that it examined the object.
- 1966 – Barbados joins the United Nations.
- 1968 – NLS (a system for which hypertext and the computer mouse were developed) is publicly demonstrated for the first time in San Francisco.
- 1969 – United States Secretary of State William P. Rogers proposes his plan for a ceasefire in the War of Attrition; Egypt and Jordan accept it over the objections of the PLO, which leads to civil war in Jordan in September 1970.
- 1971 – The United Arab Emirates join the United Nations.
- 1971 – Indo-Pakistani War: The Indian Air Force executes an airdrop of Indian Army units, bypassing Pakistani defences.
- 1973 – British and Irish authorities sign the Sunningdale Agreement in an attempt to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland.
- 1979 – The eradication of the smallpox virus is certified, making smallpox the first and to date only human disease driven to extinction.
- 1981 – Philadelphia Police Department officer Daniel Faulkner is killed during a routine traffic stop; Mumia Abu-Jamal is later convicted for it and he goes on to become "perhaps the world's best known death-row inmate" before his sentence is commuted to life without parole in December 2011.
- 1987 – Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The First Intifada begins in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- 1988 – The Michael Hughes Bridge in Sligo, Ireland is officially opened.
- 2000 – The Supreme Court of the United States stays the sixth Florida recount.
- 2003 – A blast in the center of Moscow kills six people and wounds several more.
- 2008 – The Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is arrested by federal officials for a number of crimes including attempting to sell the United States Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama's election to the Presidency.
- 2009 – The Norwegian spiral anomaly appears in the sky over Norway.
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