1542: Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River, dies of a semitropical fever in the native village of Guachoya on the western banks of the Mississippi in either present-day Arkansas or Louisiana.
1688: Poet Alexander Pope, best known for his satirical verse and use of heroic couplet, is born in London, England. Among his best known works are "Essay on Criticism," "The Rape of the Lock" and "The Dunciad."
1832: The Democratic Party holds its first national convention in Baltimore, Md. Over the course of the three-day convention the party endorsed President Andrew Jackson for re-election and nominated former Secretary of State Martin Van Buren for vice president.
1844: Artist Henri Rousseau, the Post-Impressionist painter who came to be recognized as a self-taught genius, is born in Laval, France. Rousseau is best known for works such as "The Sleeping Gypsy," "Tiger in a Tropical Storm," "The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope" and "Boy on the Rocks." He's seen here in a self portrait from 1903.
1856: Lawrence, Kan., is captured and burned by pro-slavery forces.
1881: The American Red Cross is established by Clara Barton in Washington, D.C.
1901: Connecticut approves legislation establishing a speed limit of 12 miles per hour within city limits and 15 mph outside. The law, which is the first motor car legislation passed in a U.S. state, also required the car driver to reduce speed upon meeting or passing a horse-drawn vehicle, and if necessary, to stop to avoid frightening the horse.
1904: The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is founded in Paris, France. FIFA is responsible for the organization of soccer's major international tournaments, notably the World Cup.
1904: Actor Robert Montgomery, an Oscar nominee for 1937's "Night Must Fall" and 1941's "Here Comes Mr. Jordan," is born in Beacon, N.Y. Montgomery, who also starred in movies such as "The Divorcee," "Private Lives" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," also twice served as president of the Screen Actors Guild. He made his uncredited directing debut on "They Were Expendable" when director John Ford fell ill and couldn't film some sequences and later directed movies such as "Lady in the Lake" and "Ride the Pink Horse." He also hosted an Emmy Award-winning television series, "Robert Montgomery Presents," in the 1950s and served as a media consultant and coach for President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1904: Jazz pianist, singer and composer Fats Waller, one of the most popular performers of his era and the author of songs such as "Honeysuckle Rose," "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Squeeze Me," is born Thomas Wright Waller in New York City.
1911: Mexican President Porfirio Díaz and the revolutionary Francisco Madero (pictured) sign the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez to put an end to the fighting between the forces of both men, thus concluding the initial phase of the Mexican Revolution. Per the terms of the treaty, Diaz and his vice president stepped down and were replaced by an interim president until new elections could be held. Madero ran for the office and was elected president later in 1911. However, his time as leader was short-lived and was ended by a coup d'état in 1913 led by Gen. Victoriano Huerta.
1914: The company that would become Greyhound Lines is founded in Hibbing, Minn., when Swedish immigrant Carl Erick Hickman starts a business transporting iron ore miners from Hibbing to Alice, Minn., at 15 cents a ride using a seven-passenger car. The company would be incorporated as Greyhound Corporation in 1929.
1916: Novelist Harold Robbins, one of the best-selling writers of all time, is born Harold Rubin in New York City. Robbins wrote more than 25 best-sellers and sold more than 750 million copies of his books in 32 languages. Some of his best-known works includes "Where Love Has Gone," "The Carpetbaggers" and "The Dream Merchants."
1917: The Great Atlanta fire of 1917 causes $5.5 million in damages, destroying some 300 acres including 2,000 homes, businesses and churches, and displacing about 10,000 people. However, the blaze leads to only one death: a woman who suffered a heart attack after her home burnt to the ground.
1917: Actor Raymond Burr, best known for his starring roles in the TV dramas "Perry Mason" and "Ironsides," is born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada.
1924: University of Chicago students Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks in a "thrill killing." The duo, who said they had wanted to commit a "perfect crime," hired Clarence Darrow as their defense attorney and were eventually sentenced to life in prison. Loeb was killed by a fellow prisoner in 1936 and Leopold was paroled in 1958. The case has inspired several works in film, theater and fiction, including Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film "Rope."
1927: Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world's first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Lindbergh had departed from Roosevelt Field on New York's Long Island the day before, flying nearly 3,600 statute miles over 33.5 hours in the single-seat, single-engine monoplane Spirit of St. Louis. Besides winning the $25,000 Orteig Prize for making the flight, Lindbergh, a U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve officer, was also awarded the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.
1932: Bad weather forces Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart had departed from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, 14 hours and 56 minutes earlier. She received the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French Government and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from President Herbert Hoover.
1937: A Soviet station, North Pole-1, becomes the first scientific research settlement to operate on the drift ice of the Arctic Ocean. Pictured is the expedition's leader, Ivan Papanin, on the station.
1941: Before the United States had entered World War II, the U.S. steamship SS Robin Moor is sunk by German submarine U-69 750 miles west of the British-controlled port of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The Germans allowed the ship's crew and passengers to disembark into lifeboats before sinking the ship.
1941: Baseball manager and player Bobby Cox, who led the Atlanta Braves to a World Series championship as manager in 1995, is born in Tulsa, Okla. Cox, who also was a third baseman for the New York Yankees for two seasons in 1968-69, also was a first base coach for the 1977 World Series champion New York Yankees. He then managed the Atlanta Braves from 1978 to 1981 and the Toronto Blue Jays from 1982 to 1985, before rejoining the Braves as a general manager in 1985. He moved back to the manager's role with the Braves during the 1990 season and stayed there until his retirement following the 2010 season, reaching a total of five World Series. He also won four Manager of the Year awards during his career.
1945: Actors Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart get married in a small ceremony at the country home of Bogart's close friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, near Lucas, Ohio. They are seen here in 1947's "Dark Passage," the third of four films they appeared in together.
1946: Physicist Louis Slotin is fatally irradiated in an accident during an experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was rushed to the hospital and died of radiation sickness nine days later, becoming only the second ever victim of a nuclear chain reaction accident.
1951: Comedian and politician Al Franken, who started out as a writer and performer on "Saturday Night Live" before successfully running for the U.S. Senate in 2008, is born in New York City.
1952: Actor John Garfield, best known for movies such as "Four Daughters," "They Made Me a Criminal," "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Gentleman's Agreement," dies of a heart attack at the age of 39 in New York City. Garfield earned Academy Award nominations for his performances in "Four Daughters" and "Body and Soul" and was known for playing brooding, rebellious, working-class characters and his method acting. Called to testify before the U.S. Congressional House Committee on Un-American Activities in the late 1940s, he denied Communist affiliation and refused to "name names," effectively ending his film career.
1952: Actor Mr. T, best known for his roles as B. A. Baracus in the 1980s television series "The A-Team" and as boxer Clubber Lang in the 1982 film "Rocky III," is born Laurence Tureaud in Chicago, Ill. Tureaud is known for his trademark mohawk hairstyle, gold jewelry and tough-guy persona, as well as his catchphrase "I pity the fool."
1956: In Operation Redwing (shot Cherokee), the first United States airborne hydrogen bomb is dropped over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
1957: Actor Judge Reinhold, best known for his role in the "Beverly Hills Cop" film franchise and for other movies such as "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Ruthless People," "Vice Versa" and "The Santa Clause," is born Edward Ernest Reinhold Jr. in Wilmington, Del.
1960: Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 in the Milwaukee area, is born in West Allis, Wis. He was convicted on 15 murder charges and sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms in 1992, but was clubbed to death in a Wisconsin prison by a fellow inmate in November 1994.
1971: The album "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye is released. It was Gaye's 11th studio album and the first for which he was credited as a producer. The concept album is told from the point of view of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for, and seeing nothing but injustice, suffering and hatred. It would Gaye's first album to reach the Billboard Top LPs top 10, peaking at No. 6, and staying on the chart for nearly a year.
1972: The Notorious B.I.G., the rapper best known for songs such as "Big Poppa," "Mo Money Mo Problems," "Hypnotize" and "One More Chance," is born Christopher George Latore Wallace in New York City. Wallace was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997.
1979: In what becomes known as the White Nights riots, crowds riot at the San Francisco City Hall and the surrounding area following the manslaughter conviction of Dan White for the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. White, a fellow San Francisco supervisor, had been facing first-degree murder charges in the case, but his defense team argued that depression had made him incapable of premeditating the killings. The riots caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property damage to City Hall and the surrounding area, as well as injuries to police officers and rioters.
1980: Singer-songwriter Gotye, best known for his 2011 Grammy-winning No. 1 hit single "Somebody That I Used to Know," is born Wouter De Backer in Bruges, Belgium.
1980: The sci-fi adventure movie "The Empire Strikes Back" premieres in theaters. The movie, a sequel to 1977's "Star Wars," earned more than $538 million worldwide over the original run and several re-releases, making it 1980's highest-grossing film.
1990: The series finale of the sitcom "Newhart" airs after eight seasons. The show starred Bob Newhart and Mary Frann as an author and wife who own and operate an inn located in a small, rural Vermont town. Its finale has often been called one of the most memorable series finales in television history, with the entire series being revealed as a dream had by Bob Hartley, the character Newhart played in his 1970s sitcom "The Bob Newhart Show."
1992: MTV airs the first episode of "The Real World," a reality show in which seven strangers are picked to live together in a house for several months with cameras recording their interactions. The show would become a huge ratings success and started the channel's programming shift away from music videos. "The Real World" has since become the longest-running program in MTV history and one of the longest-running reality series in history, and is credited with launching the modern reality TV genre.
1992: Bette Midler is Johnny Carson’s last guest on the late-night talk show "The Tonight Show." She sings several songs, including a short duet with Carson. Carson would officially sign off the show after 30 years with a retrospective the following night.
1998: An expelled student, Kipland Kinkel, 15, kills two students and wounds another 25 with a semi-automatic rifle at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore. Police also discover that Kinkel had killed his parents before the rampage. He would later be sentenced to 111 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
1999: Susan Lucci, the star of the soap opera "All My Children," wins her first Daytime Emmy Award for best actress in the 19th straight year she was nominated.
2000: English actor and theatrical director John Gielgud, best known for his stage performances and roles in movies like "Arthur," "Murder on the Orient Express," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "The Elephant Man" and "Shine," dies of a respiratory infection at the age of 96 in Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire, England. Gielgud, who won an Oscar for his supporting role as a sardonic butler in 1981's "Arthur" (pictured), is one of the few entertainers to have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award.
2003: An earthquake hits northern Algeria, killing more than 2,000 people and injuring more than 10,000.
2005: The tallest roller coaster in the world, Kingda Ka opens at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. The train, which is launched by a hydraulic launch mechanism to 128 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds, reaches a peak height of 456 feet.
2008: Lou Pearlman, the one-time manager of the boy bands Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, is sentenced to 25 years in prison on four federal charges in connection with a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of $300 million. Pearlman had pleaded guilty to one count each of money laundering and using false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding, and two counts of conspiracy.