1439 – Plymouth was the first town incorporated by the English Parliament.
1723 – Ambrose Godfrey patented a gunpowder fueled fire extinguisher system in England.
1775 – General Washington forbid recruiting officers from enlisting black troops.
1793 – The 1st Mayor of Paris and astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly was guillotined during the Reign of Terror.
1799 – Andrew Ellicott made the first known record of a meteor shower observation in the U.S, from a ship off the coast of Florida Keys.
1847 – Sir James Young Simpson, a British physician, was the first to use chloroform as an anesthetic.
1859 – Jules Leotard performed the first flying trapeze circus act (Paris). He also designed garment that bears his name.
1880 – Best selling American novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ” by soldier Lew Wallace was published.
1890 – Mabel Loomis Todd published the first edition of “Poems by Emily Dickinson”.
1892 – Pudge Heffelfinger received $500 and became the first professional football player in the Allegheny Athletic Association’s 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Athletic Club.
1900 – Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) in Paris closed after 50 million visitors – Art Nouveau style dominated the event.
1912 – The frozen bodies of Robert Scott and his men were found on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
1923 – In Germany, Adolf Hitler was arrested for his attempt to seize power during “Beer Hall Putsch” coup.
1926 – The first recorded aerial bombing on US soil took place in Williamson County, Illinois, during a feud between rival liquor gangs, the Sheltons and the Birgers.
1927 – Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, which left Joseph Stalin in undisputed control of the Soviet Union.
1928 – SS Vestris sank approximately 200 miles off Hampton Roads, Virginia. It killed at least 110 passengers, mostly women and children who died after the vessel is abandoned.
1933 – Nazi Germany used a referendum to ratify its withdrawal from the League of Nations.
1933 – First known photo of so-called Loch Ness monster was taken by Hugh Gray.
1935 – Egas Moniz performed the first modern brain surgery on the frontal lobes to treat mental disorders, at Santa Marta Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal.
1936 – In California, the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge opened to traffic.
1941 – World War II: Temperatures around Moscow dropped to −12 °C (10 °F) as the Soviet Union launched ski troops for the first time against the freezing German forces near the city.
1942 – World War II: Naval Battle of Guadalcanal between Japanese and American forces began near Guadalcanal. The battle lasted for three days and ended with an American victory.
1944 – World War II: The Royal Air Force launched 29 Avro Lancaster bombers, which sank the German battleship Tirpitz, with 12,000 lb Tallboy bombs off Tromsø, Norway.
1946 – Walt Disney’s “Song Of South” was released.
1948 – In Tokyo, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East sentenced seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, to death for their roles in World War II.
1954 – Ellis Island ceased operations.
1958 – A team of rock climbers led by Warren Harding completed the first ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.
1961 – Terry Jo Duperrault was the sole survivor of a series of brutal murders aboard the ketch Bluebelle.
1966 – Buzz Aldrin took the first ‘space selfie’, a photo of himself performing extravehicular activity in space during the Gemini program.
1969 – Vietnam War: Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story of the My Lai Massacre.
1970 – The Oregon Highway Division attempted to destroy a rotting beached sperm whale with explosives, which led to the now infamous “exploding whale” incident.
1970 – The 1970 Bhola cyclone made landfall on the coast of East Pakistan and became the deadliest tropical cyclone in history.
1971 – Vietnam War: As part of Vietnamization, U.S. President Richard Nixon set February 1, 1972 as the deadline for the removal of another 45,000 American troops from Vietnam.
1979 – Iran hostage crisis: In response to the hostage situation in Tehran, U.S. President Jimmy Carter ordered a halt to all petroleum imports into the United States from Iran.
1980 – The NASA space probe Voyager I made its closest approach to Saturn and took the first images of its rings.
1981 – Space Shuttle program: Mission STS-2, utilizing the Space Shuttle Columbia, marked the first time a crewed spacecraft was launched into space twice.
1990 – Tim Berners-Lee published a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.
1991 – Santa Cruz massacre: Indonesian forces opened fire on a crowd of student protesters in Dili, East Timor.
1996 – A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747 and a Kazakh Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane collided in mid-air near New Delhi, killing 349 in the deadliest mid-air collision to date.
1997 – Ramzi Yousef was found guilty of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
2001 – In New York City, American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 en route to the Dominican Republic, crashed minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 260 on board and five on the ground.
2003 – Shanghai Transrapid set a new world speed record of 501 kilometres per hour (311 mph) for commercial railway systems, which remains the fastest for unmodified commercial rail vehicles.
2014 – The Philae lander, deployed from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe, reached the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
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