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Up to 1900
- 676 – Donus becomes Pope.
- 1502 - Christopher Columbus reaches present-day Panama.
- 1721 - Peter I of Russia declares himself Tsar of the Russian Empire.
- 1772 – American Revolutionary War: Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren form the first Committee of Correspondence.
- 1783 – In Rocky Hill, New Jersey, US General George Washington gives his "Farewell Address to the Army".
- 1817 – The Bank of Montreal, Canada's oldest chartered bank, opens in Montreal, Quebec.
- 1852 - Franklin Pierce is elected President of the United States.
- 1856 - French passenger steamer Lyonnais collides with a barge off Nantucket, Massachusetts, sinking the next day, killing 130 of the 146 people on board.
- 1861 – American Civil War: Western Department Union General John C. Fremont is relieved of command and replaced by David Hunter.
- 1868 – Time zone: New Zealand officially adopts a standard time to be observed nationally, and is perhaps the first country to do so.
- 1880 - James A. Garfield is elected President of the United States.
- 1882 - Oulu, Finland is devastated by the Great Fire of 1882.
- 1889 – North and South Dakota are admitted as the 39th and 40th U.S. states.
- 1898 - Cheerleading starts in the United States; Johnny Campbell leads a crowd in cheering the University of Minnesota American football team.
- 1899 – The Boers started their 118 day siege of British-held Ladysmith during the Second Boer War.
1901 – 2000
- 1914 - World War I: The Russian Empire declares war on the Ottoman Empire.
- 1917 – Zionism: The Balfour Declaration proclaims support for Jewish settlement in Palestine.
- 1920 – In the United States, KDKA of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania starts broadcasting as the first commercial radio station. The first broadcast was the results of the U.S. presidential election, 1920.
- 1920 - Warren G. Harding, on his 55th birthday, is elected to become the 29th President of the United States. It is also the first US Presidential Election in which women can vote.
- 1930 – Haile Selassie is crowned emperor of Ethiopia.
- 1930 – Geologist Alfred Wegener departs for an expedition in Greenland, from which he does not return. His remains are found in 1931.
- 1936 - BBC television transmissions begin.
- 1936 – The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is established.
- 1936 – Italian dictator Benito Mussolini proclaims the Rome–Berlin Axis, establishing the alliance of the Axis Powers.
- 1947 – In California, designer Howard Hughes performs the maiden flight of the Spruce Goose; the largest fixed-wing aircraft ever built (flight lasted only eight minutes).
- 1948 – U.S. presidential election, 1948: Harry S. Truman defeats Thomas E. Dewey for the US presidency. Many had predicted Dewey would win, and the false Chicago Tribune headline Dewey defeats Truman has become famous.
- 1953 - Pakistan is officially named the "Islamic Republic of Pakistan".
- 1959 – Quiz show scandals: "Twenty-One" game show contestant Charles Van Doren admits to a Congressional committee that he had been given questions and answers in advance.
- 1959 – Ice Hockey: After being struck in the face with a puck, goalkeeper Jacques Plante returns to play wearing a protective mask for the first time in professional play.
- 1960 – Penguin Books is found not guilty of obscenity in the Lady Chatterley's Lover case
- 1962 – The Cuban Missile Crisis ends as US President John F. Kennedy announces that Soviet nuclear missiles are to be withdrawn from Cuba.
- 1963 – South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated following a military coup.
- 1964 – King Saud of Saudi Arabia was deposed by a family coup, and replaced by his half-brother King Faisal.
- 1966 – The Cuban Adjustment Act enters force, allowing 123,000 Cubans the opportunity to apply for permanent residence in the United States.
- 1967 – Vietnam War: US President Lyndon B. Johnson holds a secret meeting with a group of the nation's most prestigious leaders ("the Wise Men") and asks them to suggest ways to unite the American people behind the war effort. They conclude that the American people should be given more optimistic reports on the progress of the war.
- 1974 – 78 die as the Time Go-Go Club in Seoul, South Korea burns down. Six of the victims jumped to their deaths from the seventh floor after club official barred the doors after the fire started.
- 1976 – U.S. presidential election, 1976: Jimmy Carter defeats incumbent Gerald Ford to become the first candidate from the Deep South to win since the Civil War.
- 1982 - Channel 4 goes on transmission in the United Kingdom.
- 1983 – Martin Luther King Day: At the White House Rose Garden, US President Ronald Reagan signs a bill creating a federal holiday on the third Monday of every January to honor American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
- 1984 – Capital punishment: Velma Barfield becomes the first woman executed in the United States since 1962.
- 1988 – The Morris worm, the first internet distributed computer worms to gain significant mainstream media attention, was launched from MIT.
- 1991 – Bartholomew I becomes the Patriarch of Constantinople, the "first among equals" in the Eastern Orthodox Communion.
- 1991 – Jermaine Jackson's single Word to the Badd!, which attacks his brother Michael, is leaked to radio station KPWR in Los Angeles.
- 1995 – The Hubble space telescope takes a picture of a gas plume 7000 light years away from Earth that appears to contain an image of Jesus of Nazareth to many people.
- 1997 - Typhoon Linda devastates areas around the Gulf of Thailand.
- 2000 – The first crew arrives at the International Space Station.
- 2001 – Monsters, Inc. debuts with the best ticket sales ever for an animated movie and the 6th best of all time.
- 2004 – 2004 U.S. presidential election: George W. Bush defeats Senator John Kerry to win a second term as President of the United States.
- 2008 - Lewis Hamilton wins the Formula One championship. At the time, he is the youngest driver to achieve this, until Sebastian Vettel becomes its youngest winner in 2010.
- 2014 - An explosion in Pakistan, near the Indian border, kills over 50 people.
Up to 1900
- 1082 – Emperor Huizong of China (d. 1135)
- 1470 - King Edward V of England (d. 1483)
- 1475 - Anne of York, Lady Howard (d. 1511)
- 1549 - Anna of Austria, Queen of Spain (d. 1580)
- 1636 – Edward Colston, English merchant and philanthropist (died 1721)
- 1667 – James Sobieski, Crown Prince of Poland (died 1737)
- 1692 – Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, Dutch composer (died 1766)
- 1699 – Jean Siméon Chardin, French painter (died 1779)
- 1709 – Anne, Princess Royal, Princess of Orange (d. 1759)
- 1734 – Daniel Boone, American frontiersman (died 1820)
- 1739 – Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, Austrian composer (died 1799)
- 1741 – Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, Dutch politician (died 1784)
- 1755 – Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (d. 1793)
- 1766 - Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, Austrian field marshal (d. 1858)
- 1767 – Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (d. 1820)
- 1777 - Princess Sophia of the United Kingdom (d. 1848)
- 1795 – James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States (d. 1849)
- 1799 - John Light Atlee, American physician and surgeon (d. 1885)
- 1808 – Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, French writer (died 1889)
- 1815 – George Boole, English mathematician and philosopher (died 1864)
- 1821 - George Bowen, British colonial administrator, 1st Governor of Queensland (d. 1899)
- 1827 - Paul de Lagarde, German philosopher (d. 1891)
- 1844 – Mehmed V, Ottoman Sultan (died 1918)
- 1847 - Georges Sorel, French philosopher (d. 1922)
- 1862 - Maironis, Lithuanian poet (d. 1932)
- 1865 – Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the United States (died 1923)
- 1877 – Joseph De Piro, Maltese founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul (died 1933)
- 1877 - Agha Khan III (d. 1957)
- 1877 - Claire McDowell, American actress (d. 1966)
- 1878 - Okido Moriemon, Japanese sumo wrestler (d. 1930)
- 1879 - Marion Jones Farquhar, American tennis player (d. 1965)
- 1882 - Leo Perutz, Austrian writer (d. 1957)
- 1884 - Sigurd Savonius, Finnish architect and inventor (d. 1931)
- 1885 – Harlow Shapley, American astronomer (died 1972)
- 1892 – Paul Abraham, Hungarian composer (d. 1960)
- 1892 - Alice Brady, American actress (d. 1939)
- 1894 – Alexander Lippisch, German scientist (died 1976)
- 1897 – Vito Genovese, American gangster (died 1969)
- 1899 - Peter Aufschnaiter, Austrian mountaineer (d. 1973)
1901 – 1950
- 1904 – Louis Eugène Félix Néel, French physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (died 2000)
- 1906 – Daniil Andreev, Russian poet, writer, and mystic (died 1959)
- 1906 – Luchino Visconti, Italian director (d. 1976)
- 1908 – Fred Bakewell, English cricketer (died 1983)
- 1911 - Raphael M. Robinson, American mathematician, theorist and philosopher (d. 1995)
- 1911 – Odysseas Elytis, Greek writer (died 1996)
- 1913 – Burt Lancaster, American actor (died 1994)
- 1913 - Carmen Amaya, Spanish Flamenco dancer, singer and actress (d. 1963)
- 1915 - Sidney Luft, American movie director (d. 2005)
- 1917 - Ann Rutherford, Canadian-born American actress (d. 2012)
- 1923 - Cesare Rubini, Italian basketball coach and water polo player (d. 2011)
- 1924 - David Bauer, Canadian ice hockey player and priest (d. 1988)
- 1927 – Steve Ditko, American artist
- 1928 - Vladimir Beara, Yugoslavian footballer (d. 2014)
- 1929 – Muhammad Rafiq Tarar, former President of Pakistan
- 1929 – Richard E. Taylor, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
- 1929 - Amar Bose, American businessman (d. 2013)
- 1929 - Rachel Ames, American actress
- 1931 - Phil Woods, American musician
- 1932 - Melvin Schwartz, American physicist (d. 2006)
- 1936 – Jack Starrett, American actor and director (died 1989)
- 1938 – Pat Buchanan, American journalist and politician
- 1938 – Queen Sofia of Spain
- 1939 – Richard Serra, American sculptor
- 1941 - Bruce Welch, English musician and songwriter
- 1942 – Shere Hite, American writer
- 1942 – Stefanie Powers, American actress
- 1944 - Patrice Chereau, French actor, director and producer (d. 2013)
- 1946 – Giuseppe Sinopoli, Italian conductor and composer (died 2001)
- 1949 - Lois McMaster Bujold, American writer
1951 – 1975
- 1954 – Pat Croce, American entrepreneur
- 1957 - Carter Beauford, American musician
- 1958 – Willie McGee, American baseball player
- 1960 - Andy Borg, Austrian Schlager singer and television presenter
- 1961 – k.d. lang, Canadian singer
- 1962 - Ron McGovney, American musician
- 1963 - Borut Pahor, former Prime Minister, and current President, of Slovenia
- 1963 - Bobby Dall, American musician
- 1964 - Lynn Nottage, American playwright
- 1965 – Shahrukh Khan, Indian actor
- 1966 – Tim Kirkman, American movie maker
- 1966 – David Schwimmer, American actor
- 1967 – Zvonimir Soldo, Croatian footballer
- 1967 - Scott Walker, American politician and Governor of Wisconsin
- 1968 - Jaume Balaguero, Spanish director, screenwriter and producer
- 1969 – Reginald Arvizu, American bassist (KoЯn)
- 1969 - Jenny Palmqvist, Swedish football referee
- 1972 - Samantha Womack, British actress and singer
- 1974 - Ruslan Salei, Belarussian ice hockey player (d. 2011)
- 1974 – Nelly, American rapper
- 1975 - Chris Walla, American musician
- 1976 - Thierry Omeyer, French handball player
- 1977 - Emma Reynolds, English politician
- 1980 – Diego Lugano, Uruguayan footballer
- 1981 - Katharine Isabelle, Canadian actress
- 1982 – Kyoko Fukada, Japanese actress and singer
- 1982 – Charles Itandje, French-Cameroonian footballer
- 1986 – Lara Sacher, Australian actress
- 1987 – Danny Cipriani, English rugby player
- 1989 - Katelyn Tarver, American singer-songwriter and actress
- 1990 - Kendall Schmidt, American actor and singer
Up to 1950
- 943 - Emma of France (b. 894)
- 1083 - Matilda of Flanders, Queen of William the Conqueror
- 1285 - King Peter III of Aragon (b. 1239)
- 1327 - King James II of Aragon (b. 1267)
- 1483 - Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, English politician (b. 1454)
- 1610 - Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury (b. 1544)
- 1618 – Archduke Maximilian III of Austria (b. 1568)
- 1807 - Louis Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, French politician (b. 1730)
- 1810 - Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom (b. 1783)
- 1852 - Pyotr Kotlyarevsky, Russian general (b. 1782)
- 1877 - Friedrich Graf von Wrangel, Prussian field marshal (b. 1784)
- 1887 – Jenny Lind, Swedish soprano (b. 1820)
- 1905 - Horace Austin, Governor of Minnesota (b. 1831)
- 1930 - Viggo Jensen, Danish weightlifter, shooter, gymnast and athlete (b. 1874)
- 1945 – Princess Thyra, daughter of Frederick VIII of Denmark (b. 1880)
- 1950 – George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer (b. 1856)
1951 – 2000
- 1958 - Jean Couzy, French mountaineer and engineer (b. 1923)
- 1959 - Michael Considine, Australian politician (b. 1885)
- 1960 - Dimitris Metropoulos, Greek conductor and composer (b. 1896)
- 1963 – Ngo Dinh Diem, Vietnamese politician (b. 1901)
- 1966 – Peter Debye, Dutch chemist (b. 1884)
- 1966 – Mississippi John Hurt, American blues singer (b. 1892)
- 1970 - Richard Gosling, American cardinal and Archbishop of Boston, Massachusetts (b. 1895)
- 1973 - Greasy Neale, American football coach and baseball player (b. 1891)
- 1975 – Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italian movie director (b. 1922)
- 1984 - Velma Barfield, American serial killer (b. 1932)
- 1991 - Irwin Allen, American director and producer (b. 1916)
- 1992 - Hal Roach, American director and producer (b. 1892)
- 1996 – Eva Cassidy, American singer (b. 1963)
- 2000 - Robert Cormier, French writer and journalist (b. 1925)
- 2002 - Charles Sheffield, American writer and physicist (b. 1935)
- 2003 - Frank McCloskey, American politician (b. 1939)
- 2004 – Theo van Gogh, Dutch movie maker (b. 1957)
- 2004 - Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (b. 1918)
- 2005 – Ferruccio Valcareggi, Italian footballer and coach (b. 1919)
- 2007 - Igor Moiseyev, Russian choreographer (b. 1906)
- 2007 - The Fabulous Moolah (Lillian Ellison), American professional wrestler (b. 1923)
- 2008 - Madelyn Dunham, grandmother of Barack Obama, died two days before he was elected President (b. 1922)
- 2010 - Rudolf Barshai, Russian conductor and violist (b. 1924)
- 2010 - Andy Irons, American professional surfer (b. 1978)
- 2012 - Milt Campbell, American decathlete (b. 1933)
- 2013 - Walt Bellamy, American basketball player (b. 1939)
- 2014 - Acker Bilk, English jazz musician (b. 1929)
- All Souls Day - Observed in Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism
- Statehood Day (North Dakota and South Dakota)
- Third Day of the Day of the Dead (Mexico)