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.)