1758: Noah Webster, whose name became permanently associated with dictionaries, especially the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in 1828, is born in West Hartford, Conn.
1793: Marie Antoinette, the widow of Louis XVI, is guillotined at the height of the French Revolution.
1834: Much of the ancient structure of the Palace of Westminster in London burns to the ground.
1846: William T.G. Morton first demonstrates ether anesthesia at the operating theater of the Massachusetts General Hospital. The theater came to be known as the Ether Dome and has been preserved as a monument to this historic event.
1847: Charlotte Bronte's book "Jane Eyre" is published.
1854: Writer and poet Oscar Wilde, who became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s, is born in Dublin, Ireland. Among his most popular works are "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "The Importance of Being Earnest."
1859: Abolitionist John Brown leads a raid on Harpers Ferry, W.Va., in an attempt to start an armed slave revolt by seizing a United States arsenal there. Brown's raiders were initially successful in capturing the armory, but the raid was defeated two days later by a detachment of U.S. Marines led by Col. Robert E. Lee. Brown would be hung for treason on Dec. 2, 1859.
1869: The Cardiff Giant, one of the most famous American hoaxes, is "discovered." The giant was a 10-foot-tall purported "petrified man" uncovered by workers digging a well behind the barn of William C. "Stub" Newell in Cardiff, N.Y. The giant was the creation of Newell's cousin, a New York tobacconist named George Hull. Hull, an atheist, decided to create the giant after an argument at a Methodist revival meeting about the passage in Genesis 6:4 stating that giants once lived on Earth.
1888: Writer Eugene O'Neill, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936 and is well known for plays such as "Long Day's Journey into Night," "Anna Christie" and "The Iceman Cometh," is born in New York City.
1916: The first birth control clinic in the United States is opened in Brooklyn, N.Y., by Margaret Sanger, her sister, Ethel Byrne, both nurses, and an associate, Fania Mindell. The clinic was closed by the police, and Sanger (pictured) eventually received a 30-day jail sentence for distributing information on contraception. The following year Sanger would help organize the National Birth Control League, which would later become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She would open a permanent birth control clinic in New York City in 1923.
1923: Walt Disney signs a contract with M.J. Winkler to produce a series of animated cartoons known as "Alice Comedies," in which a live action little girl named Alice and an animated cat named Julius have adventures in an animated landscape. This date is considered the start of the Disney company first known as The Disney Brothers Studio.
1925: Actress Angela Lansbury, known for such movies as "Gaslight," "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" and for her 12-year run starring as writer and sleuth Jessica Fletcher on the TV series "Murder, She Wrote," is born in London, England.
1934: Chinese Communists begin the Long March, a military retreat to evade the pursuit of the Chinese Nationalist Party army. The march would end a year and four days later and reportedly traverse some 8,000 miles. The Long March began Mao Zedong's ascent to power, whose leadership during the retreat gained him the support of party members.
1938: Singer-songwriter, musician, fashion model and actress Nico, known for her collaboration on The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico," and her work as a solo artist from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, is born Christa Päffgen in Cologne, Germany. She also had roles in several films, including a cameo in Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" (pictured) and Andy Warhol's "Chelsea Girls." She died at age 49 on July 18, 1988, as a result of injuries suffered in a cycling accident while vacationing in Ibiza, Spain.
1940: The Warsaw Ghetto, the largest of all Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, is established when German Governor-General Hans Frank orders Jews in Warsaw and its suburbs rounded up.
1943: Chicago's new State Street Subway system under Clybourn, Division, and State streets is officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The city's busy North-South elevated line was rerouted through it, relieving congestion on the loop. Today the system forms the central portion of what is now the Red Line between North/Clybourn and Roosevelt stations.
1944: Wally Walrus, Woody Woodpecker's first steady foil, makes his debut in the "The Beach Nut," a Walter Lantz cartoon.
1946: The Nazi leaders convicted in the Nuremberg Trials' main trial are executed by hanging. Of the 12 defendants sentenced to death by hanging, two were not hanged: Hermann Göring committed suicide the night before the execution and Martin Bormann, a prominent Nazi Party official and Adolf Hitler's private secretary, was not present when convicted (he had, unbeknownst to the Allies, most likely been killed trying to escape from Berlin in May 1945).
1946: Actress Suzanne Somers, best known for her television roles as Chrissy Snow on "Three's Company" and as Carol Lambert on "Step by Step," is born Suzanne Marie Mahoney in San Bruno, Calif.
1947: Film director David Zucker (right), who directed the movies "Airplane!," "Top Secret" and "Ruthless People" with Jim Abrahams (left) and his brother Jerry Zucker (left, is born in Milwaukee, Wis. Zucker also went on to direct the movies "The Naked Gun," "The Naked Gun 2½," "BASEketball," "Scary Movie 3" and "Scary Movie 4."
1955: Esther "Eppie" Lederer replaces the late Ruth Crowley as the writer of the "Ask Ann Landers" syndicated advice column. Lederer's first column opens with a letter from a "Non-Eligible Bachelor," who despaired of getting married. Her advice was "You're a big boy now... don't let spite ruin your life."
1958: Actor and filmmaker Tim Robbins, best known for his roles in movies such as "Bull Durham," "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Mystic River," for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, is born in West Covina, Calif.
1959: George Marshall, who served as U.S. secretary of state and defense secretary under President Harry S. Truman and Army chief of staff during World War II, dies at the age of 78 in Washington, D.C. Marshall's name was given to the Marshall Plan, the American program to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
1962: The Cuban missile crisis began as President John F. Kennedy is notified that reconnaissance photographs had revealed the presence of missile bases in Cuba. The ensuing 13-day standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to turning into a nuclear conflict.
1962: Musician Flea, the bassist for and co-founding member of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, is born under the birth name Michael Peter Balzary in Melbourne, Australia.
1964: The People's Republic of China detonates its first nuclear weapon. Pictured is a mock-up of China's first nuclear bomb.
1968: United States athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos are kicked off the U.S. team for participating in a Black Power salute during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. When the American national anthem began playing while they were are on the podium, Smith, who had won the gold medal in the 200-meter race, and Carlos, who won bronze, each bowed their heads and raised a black-gloved fist and kept them raised until the anthem had finished.
1969: The New York Mets, a previously hapless expansion team that began play in 1961, wins the World Series four games to one over American League powerhouse the Baltimore Orioles. The team is often referred to as the "Amazin' Mets."
1969: Singer Wendy Wilson (right) of the pop band Wilson Phillips, and the daughter of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson, is born in Los Angeles.
1972: Fantasy Records officially announces that Creedence Clearwater Revival has broken up.
1973: Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, who negotiated a ceasefire in the Vietnam War, are named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. However, Tho declined to accept the award, since there was still no peace agreement. The ceasefire proved short-lived, with the war ending when North Vietnam overran Saigon in 1975 and annexed South Vietnam.
1975: Rahima Banu, a 2-year old girl from the village of Kuralia in Bangladesh, is the last known person to be infected with naturally occurring smallpox. A team from the World Health Organization, which was leading a campaign to eradicate the disease, arrived and cared for Banu, who recovered fully.
1977: Singer-songwriter John Mayer, who has sold more than 10 million albums in the U.S. and 20 million albums worldwide and earned seven Grammys, is born in Bridgeport, Conn. Some of his biggest hits include "Your Body Is a Wonderland," "Daughters," "Waiting on the World to Change" and "Say."
1978: Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, then archbishop of Krakow, is elected pope after the October 1978 Papal conclave. He would choose the name Pope John Paul II and serve until his death in 2005, making him the second-longest serving Pope in history.
1980: Basketball player Sue Bird, one of nine women to win an Olympic Gold Medal, an NCAA Championship, and a WNBA Championship, is born in Syosset, N.Y. Bird won NCAA titles with the University of Connecticut in 2000 and 2002 and was chosen first overall in the 2002 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm. She won WNBA titles with the Storm in 2004 and 2010 and won Olympic gold medals as part of Team USA in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
1982: Halley's Comet is first detected on its 30th recorded visit to Earth by a team of astronomers at the Mount Palomar Observatory led by David Jewett and G. Edward Danielson. They found the comet, beyond the orbit of Saturn, about 1.6 billion kilometers from the sun.
1984: Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, seen here in 2007, wins the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee cites his "role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa."
1987: Rescuers free Jessica McClure, an 18-month-old girl who had been trapped in an abandoned well for 58 hours in Midland, Texas. The rescue of "Baby Jessica" gained worldwide attention and later became the subject of a 1989 made-for-TV movie.
1987: Paul Holc, just three hours old, becomes the youngest-ever recipient of an organ transplant after surgeons at Loma Linda University Medical Center give him a new heart. At birth, Holc weighed 6 pounds and 6 and 3/4 ounces, and suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a fatal heart defect in which the heart's left chamber is missing or atrophied. The condition was discovered prior to his birth and Holc was able to receive his new heart quickly because the hospital located a suitable donor -- a brain-dead newborn girl in Canada.
1991: George Hennard drives his pickup truck into Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, and shoots 23 people to death while wounding another 20, before committing suicide. It was the deadliest shooting rampage in American history until the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
1992: Actress Shirley Booth, who won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for 1952's "Come Back, Little Sheba," dies at age 94 in North Chatham, Mass. Booth, who was primarily a theater actress, was also known for playing the title role of the sitcom "Hazel," winning two Emmy Awards for the role.
1995: Black men from across the United States converge on Washington, D.C., for the Million Man March, an effort to "convey to the world a vastly different picture of the Black male" and to unite in self-help and self-defense against economic and social ills plaguing the black community.
1997: Writer James Michener, whose major books include "Tales of the South Pacific," for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948, "Hawaii," "The Drifters," "Centennial" and "The Source," dies of kidney failure at the age of 90 in Austin, Texas.
1998: Former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet is arrested in London on a warrant from Spain requesting his extradition on murder charges. He would eventually be released in March 2000 on medical grounds without facing trial and return to Chile.
1999: Writer and actor Jean Shepherd, best known for the 1983 film "A Christmas Story," which he narrated and co-scripted based on his own semi-autobiographical stories, dies at age 78 in Sanibel Island, Fla.
2000: Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan is killed when the twin-engine Cessna airplane piloted by his son, Randy Carnahan, crashes on a heavily forested hillside during a rainstorm and foggy conditions near Goldman, Mo. His son and Chris Sifford, his campaign advisor and former chief of staff, also died in the crash. Carnahan, 66, was running for the U.S. Senate at the time of the accident and his name remained on the ballot for the Nov. 7, 2000, election due to state election law. His widow, Jean Carnahan, unofficially became the Democratic candidate and, in a Senate first, Carnahan won posthumous election, beating incumbent John Ashcroft by a 2 percent margin. Jean Carnahan was then appointed to the Senate and served until November 2002, when she was narrowly defeated in a special election by Republican James Talent.
2002: President George W. Bush signs a congressional resolution authorizing war against Iraq.
2004: Pierre Salinger, a White House press secretary to U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, dies of heart failure at age 79 in Le Thor, France. Following his time in the White House, he became known for his work as an ABC News correspondent, in particular for his stories on the American hostage crisis in Iran and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. He also served in the U.S. Senate in 1964 as a vacancy appointment and was campaign manager for the Robert F. Kennedy presidential campaign. He was within 10 to 12 feet of Kennedy when he was assassinated while walking through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in June 1968.
2006: CBGB, the legendary New York punk club credited with discovering Patti Smith and The Ramones, closes in the early morning hours after a final gig by Smith herself. Blondie and Talking Heads also found fame after performing at the club, which helped launch American punk music. The full name of the venue, which first opened in December 1973, is CBGB OMFUG, standing for "country, bluegrass, blues and other music for uplifting gormandizers."
2007: Scottish actress Deborah Kerr, whose films included "The King and I," "An Affair to Remember" and "From Here to Eternity," and who earned six Oscar nominations for Best Actress in her career, dies from the effects of Parkinson's disease at the age of 86 in Botesdale, Suffolk, England.
2010: Actress Barbara Billingsley, best known for the role of June Cleaver on the television sitcom "Leave It to Beaver," dies of polymyalgia at the age of 94 in Santa Monica, Calif.
2011: British racecar driver Dan Wheldon dies shortly after a collision at the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at the age of 33. Wheldon was the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion and a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.