On Oct. 20, 1714, the coronation of Britain’s King George I took place in Westminster Abbey.
In 1803, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.
In 1936, Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, died in Forest Hills, N.Y., at age 70.
In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee opened hearings into alleged Communist influence and infiltration in the U.S. motion picture industry.
In 1967, a jury in Meridian, Mississippi, convicted seven men of violating the civil rights of slain civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner; the seven received prison terms ranging from 3 to 10 years.
In 1968, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
In 1973, in the so-called “Saturday Night Massacre,” special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox was dismissed and Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William B. Ruckelshaus resigned.
In 1976, 78 people were killed when the Norwegian tanker Frosta rammed the commuter ferry George Prince on the Mississippi River near New Orleans.
In 1977, three members of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, were killed along with three others in the crash of a chartered plane near McComb, Mississippi.
In 1987, 10 people were killed when an Air Force jet crashed into a Ramada Inn hotel near Indianapolis International Airport after the pilot, who was trying to make an emergency landing, ejected safely.
In 1990, three members of the rap group 2 Live Crew were acquitted by a jury in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., of violating obscenity laws with an adults-only concert in nearby Hollywood the previous June.
In 1994, actor Burt Lancaster died in Los Angeles at age 80.
In 2018, Saudi Arabia announced that U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi (jah-MAHL’ khahr-SHOHK’-jee) had been killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul; there was immediate international skepticism over the Saudi account that Khashoggi had died during a “fistfight.” (A U.S. intelligence report later concluded that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had likely approved Khashoggi’s killing by a team of Saudi security and intelligence officials.)
On Oct. 19, 1781, British troops under Gen. Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, as the American Revolution neared its end.
In 1789, John Jay was sworn in as the first Chief Justice of the United States.
In 1944, the U.S. Navy began accepting Black women into WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
In 1950, during the Korean Conflict, United Nations forces entered the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
In 1953, the Ray Bradbury novel “Fahrenheit 451,” set in a dystopian future where books are banned and burned by the government, was first published by Ballantine Books.
In 1960, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested during a sit-down protest at a lunch counter in Atlanta. (Sent to prison for a parole violation over a traffic offense, King was released after three days following an appeal by Robert F. Kennedy.)
In 1977, the supersonic Concorde made its first landing in New York City.
In 1987, the stock market crashed as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 508 points, or 22.6 percent in value (its biggest daily percentage loss), to close at 1,738.74 in what came to be known as “Black Monday.”
In 2002, in York, Pa., former mayor Charlie Robertson was acquitted and two other men were convicted in the shotgun slaying of Lillie Belle Allen, a young Black woman, during race riots that tore the city apart in 1969.
In 2001, U.S. special forces began operations on the ground in Afghanistan, opening a significant new phase of the assault against the Taliban and al-Qaida.
In 2003, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Square.
In 2010, the Pentagon directed the military to accept openly gay recruits for the first time in the nation’s history.
In 2015, Canadians voted for a sharp change in their government as the Liberals led by Justin Trudeau, the son of a former prime minister, won a landslide victory to end Conservative Stephen Harper’s near decade in office.
On Oct. 18, 1767, the Mason-Dixon line, the boundary between colonial Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, was set as astronomers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon completed their survey.
In 1867, the United States took formal possession of Alaska from Russia.
In 1892, the first long-distance telephone line between New York and Chicago was officially opened (it could only handle one call at a time).
In 1898, the American flag was raised in Puerto Rico shortly before Spain formally relinquished control of the island to the U-S.
In 1961, the movie musical “West Side Story,” starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, premiered in New York, the film’s setting.
In 1962, James D. Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were honored with the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for determining the double-helix molecular structure of DNA.
In 1968, the U.S. Olympic Committee suspended Tommie Smith and John Carlos for giving a “Black power” salute as a protest during a victory ceremony in Mexico City.
In 1969, the federal government banned artificial sweeteners known as cyclamates (SY’-kluh-maytz) because of evidence they caused cancer in laboratory rats.
In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, overriding President Richard Nixon’s veto.
In 1977, West German commandos stormed a hijacked Lufthansa jetliner on the ground in Mogadishu, Somalia, freeing all 86 hostages and killing three of the four hijackers.
In 1997, a monument honoring American servicewomen, past and present, was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 2001, CBS News announced that an employee in anchorman Dan Rather’s office had tested positive for skin anthrax. Four disciples of Osama bin Laden were sentenced in New York to life without parole for their roles in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
In 2010, four men snared in an FBI sting were convicted of plotting to blow up New York City synagogues and shoot down military planes with the help of a paid informant who’d convinced them he was a terror operative. (James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen were each sentenced to 25 years in prison.)
On Oct. 17, 1777, British forces under Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered to American troops in Saratoga, New York, in a turning point of the Revolutionary War.
In 1919, Radio Corp. of America was chartered.
In 1931, mobster Al Capone was convicted in Chicago of income tax evasion. (Sentenced to 11 years in prison, Capone was released in 1939.)
In 1933, Albert Einstein arrived in the United States as a refugee from Nazi Germany.
In 1957, the movie “Jailhouse Rock,” starring Elvis Presley, had its world premiere in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 1966, 12 New York City firefighters were killed while battling a blaze in lower Manhattan. The TV game show “The Hollywood Squares” premiered on NBC.
In 1967, Puyi (poo-yee), the last emperor of China, died in Beijing at age 61.
In 1973, Arab oil-producing nations announced they would begin cutting back oil exports to Western nations and Japan; the result was a total embargo that lasted until March 1974.
In 1978, President Carter signed a bill restoring U.S. citizenship to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
In 1979, Mother Teresa of India was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1989, an earthquake measuring 6.9 in magnitude struck northern California, killing 63 people and causing $6 billion worth of damage.
In 2014, the World Health Organization acknowledged it had botched attempts to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff, lack of information and budget cuts.
In 2018, residents of the Florida Panhandle community of Mexico Beach who had fled Hurricane Michael a week earlier returned home to find homes, businesses and campers ripped to shreds; the storm had killed at least 59 people and caused more than $25 billion in damage in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
On Oct. 16, 1793, during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, was beheaded.
In 1859, radical abolitionist John Brown led a raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry in what was then a part of western Virginia. (Ten of Brown’s men were killed and five escaped. Brown and six followers were captured; all were executed.)
In 1934, Chinese Communists, under siege by the Nationalists, began their “long march” lasting a year from southeastern to northwestern China.
In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis began as President John F. Kennedy was informed that reconnaissance photographs had revealed the presence of missile bases in Cuba.
In 1964, China set off its first atomic bomb, codenamed “596,” on the Lop Nur Test Ground.
In 1968, American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos sparked controversy at the Mexico City Olympics by giving “Black power” salutes during a victory ceremony after they’d won gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter race.
In 1978, the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church chose Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (voy-TEE’-wah) to be the new pope; he took the name John Paul II.
In 1984, Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his decades of non-violent struggle for racial equality in South Africa.
In 1991, a deadly shooting rampage took place in Killeen, Texas, as a gunman opened fire at a Luby’s Cafeteria, killing 23 people before taking his own life.
In 1995, a vast throng of Black men gathered in Washington, D.C. for the “Million Man March” led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
In 2002, President George W. Bush signed a congressional resolution authorizing war against Iraq. The White House announced that North Korea had disclosed it had a nuclear weapons program.
In 2009, agricultural officials said pigs in Minnesota had tested positive for the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, the first such cases in the U.S.
In 2017, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been captured and held by the Taliban for five years after walking away from his post in Afghanistan, pleaded guilty to desertion and endangering his comrades. (A military judge later decided not to send him to prison.)
On October 15, 1783, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascended in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.
In 1928, the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin landed in Lakehurst, N.J., completing its first commercial flight across the Atlantic.
In 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed for treason.
In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering (GEH’-reeng) fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.ADVERTISEMENT
In 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the Carolina coast as a Category 4 storm; Hazel was blamed for some 1,000 deaths in the Caribbean, 95 in the U.S. and 81 in Canada.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill creating the U.S. Department of Transportation. The revolutionary Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.
In 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.
In 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.
In 2001, Bethlehem Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In 2003, eleven people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. (The ferry’s pilot, who’d blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.)
In 2009, a report of a 6-year-old Colorado boy trapped inside a runaway helium balloon engrossed the nation before the boy, Falcon Heene (HEE’-nee), was found safe at home in what turned out to be a hoax. (Falcon’s parents served up to a month in jail.)
In 2015, President Barack Obama abandoned his pledge to end America’s longest war, announcing plans to keep at least 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the end of his term in 2017 and hand the conflict off to his successor.
In 2017, actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted should write “Me too” as a status; within hours, tens of thousands had taken up the #MeToo hashtag (using a phrase that had been introduced 10 years earlier by social activist Tarana Burke.)
On Oct. 14, 1066, Normans under William the Conqueror defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings.
In 1586, Mary, Queen of Scots, went on trial in England, accused of committing treason against Queen Elizabeth I. (Mary was beheaded in February 1587.)
In 1933, Nazi Germany announced it was withdrawing from the League of Nations.
In 1939, a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the HMS Royal Oak, a British battleship anchored at Scapa Flow in Scotland’s Orkney Islands; 833 of the more than 1,200 men aboard were killed.
In 1944, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took his own life rather than face trial and certain execution for allegedly conspiring against Adolf Hitler.
In 1964, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev was toppled from power; he was succeeded by Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and by Alexei Kosygin as Premier.
In 1968, the first successful live telecast from a manned U.S. spacecraft was transmitted from Apollo 7.
In 1981, the new president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak (HOHS’-nee moo-BAH’-rahk), was sworn in to succeed the assassinated Anwar Sadat. Mubarak pledged loyalty to Sadat’s policies.
In 2001, as U.S. jets opened a second week of raids in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush sternly rejected a Taliban offer to discuss handing over Osama bin Laden to a third country.
In 2008, a grand jury in Orlando, Fla. returned charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter against Casey Anthony in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. (She was acquitted in July 2011.)
In 2014, a second nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas came down with Ebola after contracting it from a dying patient. (The nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, was later declared free of the disease.)
In 2017, a truck bombing in Somalia’s capital killed more than 500 people in one of the world’s deadliest attacks in years; officials blamed the attack on the extremist group al-Shabab and said it was meant to target Mogadishu’s international airport, but the bomb detonated in a crowded street after soldiers opened fire.
On Oct. 13, 1775, the United States Navy had its origins as the Continental Congress ordered the construction of a naval fleet.
In 1792, the cornerstone of the executive mansion, later known as the White House, was laid by President George Washington during a ceremony in the District of Columbia.
In 1845, Texas voters ratified a state constitution.
In 1943, Italy declared war on Germany, its one-time Axis partner.
In 1944, during World War II, American troops entered Aachen (AH’-kehn), Germany.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon held the third televised debate of their presidential campaign (Nixon was in Los Angeles, Kennedy in New York).
In 1972, a Uruguayan chartered flight carrying 45 people crashed in the Andes; survivors resorted to feeding off the remains of some of the dead in order to stay alive until they were rescued more than two months later.
In 1974, longtime television host Ed Sullivan died in New York City at age 73.
In 1999, the Senate rejected the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, with 48 senators voting in favor and 51 against, far short of the 67 needed for ratification.
In 2000, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Longtime American communist Gus Hall died in New York at age 90.
In 2003, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution expanding the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
In 2006, The United Nations General Assembly appointed South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon the next U.N. secretary-general. Banker Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh won the Nobel Peace Prize for using microcredit to lift people out of poverty.
In 2010, rescuers in Chile using a missile-like escape capsule pulled 33 men one by one to fresh air and freedom 69 days after they were trapped in a collapsed mine a half-mile underground.
On Oct. 12, 1792, the first recorded U.S. celebration of Columbus Day was held to mark the tricentennial of Christopher Columbus’ landing.
In 1933, bank robber John Dillinger escaped from a jail in Allen County, Ohio, with the help of his gang, who killed the sheriff, Jess Sarber.
In 1942, during World War II, American naval forces defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Cape Esperance. Attorney General Francis Biddle announced during a Columbus Day celebration at Carnegie Hall in New York that Italian nationals in the United States would no longer be considered enemy aliens.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon nominated House minority leader Gerald R. Ford of Michigan to succeed Spiro T. Agnew as vice president.
In 1976, it was announced in China that Hua Guofeng had been named to succeed the late Mao Zedong as chairman of the Communist Party; it was also announced that Mao’s widow and three others, known as the “Gang of Four,” had been arrested.
In 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher escaped an attempt on her life when an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded at a hotel in Brighton, England, killing five people.
In 1986, the superpower meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, ended in stalemate, with President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev unable to agree on arms control or a date for a full-fledged summit in the United States.
In 1997, singer John Denver was killed in the crash of his privately built aircraft in Monterey Bay, California; he was 53.
In 2000, 17 sailors were killed in a suicide bomb attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.
In 2002, bombs blamed on al-Qaida-linked militants destroyed a nightclub on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians and seven Americans.
In 2007, former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize for sounding the alarm over global warming.
In 2017, President Donald Trump lashed out at hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico, saying the federal government can’t keep sending help “forever” and suggesting that the U.S. territory was to blame for its financial struggles.
In 2019, a Black woman, Atatiana Jefferson, was fatally shot by a white Fort Worth, Texas, police officer inside her home after police were called to the residence by a neighbor who reported that the front door was open. (Officer Aaron Dean, who shot Jefferson through a back window, resigned in the days after the shooting and is charged with murder; he has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in November.)