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.)