1500 - Vicente Yáñez Pinzón discovered Brazil.
1736 - Stanislaus I formally abdicated as King of Poland.
1784 - In a letter to his daughter, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the eagle as the symbol of America. He wanted the symbol to be the turkey.
1788 - The first European settlers in Australia, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, landed in what became known as Sydney. The group had first settled at Botany Bay eight days before. This day is celebrated as Australia Day.
1802 - The U.S. Congress passed an act calling for a library to be established within the U.S. Capitol.
1827 - Peru seceded from Colombia in protest against Simón Bolívar's alleged tyranny.
1837 - Michigan became the 26th state to join the United States.
1841 - Britain formally occupied Hong Kong, which the Chinese had ceded to the British.
1861 - In the U.S., Louisiana seceded from the Union.
1870 - The state of Virgina rejoined the Union.
1875 - George F. Green patented the electric dental drill for sawing, filing, dressing and polishing teeth.
1905 - The Cullinan diamond, at 3,106.75 carats, was found by Captain Wells at the Premier Mine, near Pretoria, South Africa.
1911 - Inventor Glenn H. Curtiss flew the first successful seaplane.
1934 - The Apollo Theatre opened in New York City.
1939 - In the Spanish Civil War, Franco's forces, with Italian aid, took Barcelona.
1942 - The first American expeditionary force to go to Europe during World War II went ashore in Northern Ireland.
1947 - "The Greatest Story Ever Told" was first heard on ABC radio.
1950 - India officially proclaimed itself a republic as Rajendra Prasad took the oath of office as president.
1950 - The American Associated Insurance Companies, of St. Louis, MO, issued the first baby sitter’s insurance policy.
1959 - "Alcoa Presents" debuted on ABC-TV. The show would later be renamed "One Step Beyond".
1961 - U.S. President John F. Kennedy appointed Dr. Janet G. Travell as the first woman to be the "personal physician to the President".
1962 - The U.S. launched Ranger 3 to land scientific instruments on the moon. The probe missed its target by about 22,000 miles.
1965 - Hindi was made the official language of India.
1969 - California was declared a disaster area two days of flooding and mudslides.
1972 - In Hermsdorf, Czechoslovakia, a JAT Yugoslav Airlines flight crashed after the detonation of a bomb in the forward cargo hold killing 27 people. The bomb was believed to have been placed on the plane by a Croatian extremist group. Vesna Vulovic, a stewardess, survived after falling 33,000 feet in the tail section. She broke both legs and became paralyzed from the waist down.
1979 - The ‘Gizmo’ guitar synthesizer was first demonstrated.
1984 - CBS television debuted Mickey Spillane's "Mike Hammer."
1992 - Russian president Boris Yeltsin announced that his country would stop targeting U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.
1993 - Former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel was elected president of the new Czech Republic.
1994 - In Sydney, Australia, a young man lunged at and fired two blank shots at Britain's Prince Charles.
1996 - U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton testified before a grand jury concerning the Whitewater probe.
1998 - U.S. President Clinton denied having an affair with a former White House intern, saying "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
1999 - Saddam Hussein vowed revenge against the U.S. in response to air-strikes that reportedly killed civilians. The strikes wereU.S. planes defending themselves against anti-aircraft fire.
1999 - Gary Busey was released from jail after being arrested the night before for investigation of misdemeanor spousal abuse. Tiana Busey had no visible injuries.
2001 - Near Ciudad Boliva, Venezuela, twenty four people were killed when a 50-year-old DC-3 crashed.
2009 - The first trial at the International Criminal Court was held. Former Union of Congolese Patriots leader Thomas Lubanga was accused of training child soldiers to kill, pillage, and rape.
2009 - The Icelandic government and banking system collapsed. Prime Minister Geir Haarde resigned.
2010 - It was announced that James Cameron's movie "Avatar" had become the highest-grossing film worldwide.
1606 - The trial of Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators began. They were executed on January 31.
1870 - Kappa Alpha Theta, the first women’s sorority, was founded at Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University) in Greencastle, IN.
1880 - Thomas Edison patented the electric incandescent lamp.
1888 - The National Geographic Society was founded in Washington, DC.
1900 - In China, foreign diplomats in Peking, fearing a revolt, demanded that the imperial government discipline the Boxer rebels.
1926 - John Baird, a Scottish inventor, demonstrated a pictorial transmission machine called television.
1927 - United Independent Broadcasters Inc. started a radio network with contracts with 16 stations. The company later became Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).
1931 - NBC radio debuted "Clara, Lu ’n’ Em" on its Blue network (later, ABC radio).
1943 - During World War II, the first all American air raid against Germany took place when about 50 bombers attacked Wilhlemshaven.
1944 - The Soviet Union announced that the two year German siege of Leningrad had come to an end.
1945 - Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland.
1948 - Wire Recording Corporation of America announced the first magnetic tape recorder. The ‘Wireway’ machine with a built-in oscillator sold for $149.50.
1951 - In the U.S., atomic testing in the Nevada desert began as an Air Force plane dropped a one-kiloton bomb on Frenchman Flats.
1957 - The "CBS Radio Workshop" was heard for the first time.
1967 - At Cape Kennedy, FL, astronauts Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee died in a flash fire during a test aboard their Apollo I spacecraft.
1967 - More than 60 nations signed the Outer Space Treaty which banned the orbiting of nuclear weapons and placing weapons on celestial bodies or space stations.
1973 - The Vietnam peace accords were signed in Paris.
1977 - The Vatican reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's ban on female priests.
1981 - U.S. President Reagan greeted the 52 former American hostages released by Iran at the White House.
1984 - Carl Lewis beat his own two-year-old record by 9-1/4 inches when he set a new indoor world record with a long-jump mark of 28 feet, 10-1/4 inches.
1984 - Wayne Gretzky set a National Hockey League (NHL) record for consecutive game scoring. He ended the streak at 51 games.
1985 - The Coca-Cola Company, of Atlanta, GA, announced a plan to sell its soft drinks in the Soviet Union.
1992 - Former world boxing champion Mike Tyson went on trial for allegedly raping an 18-year-old contestant in the 1991 Miss Black America Contest.
1996 - Mahamane Ousmane, the first democratically elected president of Niger, was overthrown by a military coup. Colonel Ibrahim Bare Mainassara declared himself head of state.
1997 - It was revealed that French national museums were holding nearly 2,000 works of art stolen from Jews by the Nazis during World War II.
1998 - U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on NBC's "Today" show. She charged that the allegations against her husband were the work of a "vast right-wing conspiracy."
1999 - The U.S. Senate blocked dismissal of the impeachment case against President Clinton and voted for new testimony from Monica Lewinsky and two other witnesses.
2002 - A series of explosions occurred at a military dump in Lagos, Nigeria. More than 1,000 people were killed in the blast and in the attempt to escape.
2003 - Altria Group, Inc. became the name of the parent company of Kraft Foods, Philip Morris USA, Philip Morris International and Philip Morris Capital Corporation.
2010 - Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad.
1521 - The Diet of Worms began, at which Protestant reformer Luther was declared an outlaw by the Roman Catholic church.
1547 - England's King Henry VIII died. He was succeeded by his 9 year-old son, Edward VI.
1788 - The first British penal settlement was founded at Botany Bay.
1807 - London's Pall Mall became the first street lit by gaslight.
1871 - France surrendered in the Franco-Prussian War.
1878 - The first telephone switchboard was installed in New Haven, CT.
1878 - "The Yale News" was published for the first time. It was the first, daily, collegiate newspaper in the U.S.
1902 - The Carnegie Institution was established in Washington, DC. It began with a gift of $10 million from Andrew Carnegie.
1909 - The United States ended direct control over Cuba.
1915 - The Coast Guard was created by an act of the U.S. Congress to fight contraband trade and aid distressed vessels at sea.
1916 - Louis D. Brandeis was appointed by President Wilson to the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming its first Jewish member.
1918 - The Bolsheviks occupied Helsinki, Finland.
1922 - The National Football League (NFL) franchise in Decatur, IL, transferred to Chicago. The team took the name Chicago Bears.
1935 - Iceland became the first country to introduce legalized abortion.
1938 - The first ski tow started operation in Vermont.
1945 - During World War II, Allied supplies began reaching China over the newly reopened Burma Road.
1957 - The Brooklyn Dodgers announced that circus clown Emmett Kelly had been hired to entertain fans at baseball games.
1958 - Roy Campanella (Brooklyn Dodgers) was seriously injured in an auto accident in New York. He would never return to play again.
1958 - Construction began on first private thorium-uranium nuclear reactor.
1965 - General Motors reported the biggest profit of any U.S. company in history.
1973 - CBS-TV debuted "Barnaby Jones."
1980 - Six Americans who had fled the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, on November 4, 1979, left Iran using false Canadian diplomatic passports. The Americans had been hidden at the Canadian embassy in Tehran.
1982 - Italian anti-terrorism forces rescued U.S. Brigadier General James L. Dozier. 42 days before he had been kidnapped by the Red Brigades.
1986 - The U.S. space shuttle Challenger exploded just after takeoff. All seven of its crewmembers were killed.
1994 - In Los Angeles, Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg declared a mistrial in the case of Lyle Menendez in the murder of his parents. Lyle, and his brother Erik, were both retried later and were found guilty. They were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
1997 - Clive Davis received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1998 - In Manilla, Philippines, gunmen held at least 400 children and teachers for several hours at an elementary school.
1999 - Ford Motor Company announced the purchase of Sweden's Volvo AB for $6.45 billion.
2002 - Toys R Us Inc. announced that it would be closing 27 Toys R Us stores and 37 Kids R Us stores in order to cut costs and boost operating profits.
1728 - John Gay's The Beggar's Opera was first performed at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, London.
1802 - John Beckley became the first Librarian of Congress.
1820 - Britain's King George III died insane at Windsor Castle.
1845 - Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" was published for the first time in the "New York Evening Mirror."
1848 - Greenwich Mean Time was adopted by Scotland.
1850 - Henry Clay introduced in the Senate a compromise bill on slavery that included the admission of California into the Union as a free state.
1856 - Britain's highest military decoration, the Victoria Cross, was founded by Queen Victoria.
1861 - In America, Kansas became the 34th state of the Union.
1886 - The first successful petrol-driven motorcar, built by Karl Benz, was patented.
1916 - In World War I, Paris was bombed by German zeppelins for the first time.
1924 - R. Taylor patented the ice cream cone rolling machine.
1936 - The first members of major league baseball's Hall of Fame were named in Cooperstown, NY.
1940 - The W. Atlee Burpee Seed Company displayed the first tetraploid flowers at the New York City Flower Show.
1949 - "The Newport News" was commissioned as the first air-conditioned naval ship in Virginia.
1956 - "Indictment" debuted on CBS radio and stayed on the air for three years.
1958 - Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married.
1958 - Charles Starkweather was captured by police in Wyoming.
1963 - The first members to the NFL's Hall of Fame were named in Canton, OH.
1963 - Britain was refused entry into the EEC.
1966 - "Sweet Charity" opened at the Palace Theatre in New York City. It ran for 608 performances.
1979 - U.S. President Carter formally welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping to the White House. The visit followed the establishment of diplomatic relations.
1985 - The Dow Jones industrial average peaked at 1,292.62.
1987 - "Physician’s Weekly" announced that the smile on the face of Leonardo DeVinci's Mona Lisa was caused by a "...facial paralysis resulting from a swollen nerve behind the ear."
1990 - Joseph Hazelwood, the former skipper of the Exxon Valdez, went on trial in Anchorage, AK, on charges that stemmed from America's worst oil spill. Hazelwood was later acquitted of all the major charges and was convicted of a misdemeanor.
1995 - The San Francisco 49ers became the first team in National Football League (NFL) history to win five Super Bowl titles. The 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers 49-26.
1996 - French President Jacques Chirac announced the "definitive end" to nuclear testing.
1996 - La Fenice, the 204 year old opera house in Venice, was destroyed by fire. Arson was suspected.
1997 - America Online agreed to give refunds to frustrated customers under threat of lawsuits across the country. Customers were unable to log on after AOL offered a flat $19.95-a-month rate.
1998 - A bomb exploded at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, AL, killing an off-duty policeman and severely wounding a nurse. Eric Rudolph was charged with this bombing and three other attacks in Atlanta.
1999 - Paris prosecutors announced the end of the investigation into the accident that killed Britain's Princess Diana.
1999 - The U.S. Senate delivered subpoenas for Monica Lewinsky and two presidential advisers for private, videotaped testimony in the impeachment trial.
2001 - In Indonesia, thousands of student protesters stormed the parliament property and demanded that President Abdurrahman Wahid quit due to his alleged involvement in two corruption scandals. Wahid announced that he would not resign.
1649 - England's King Charles I was beheaded.
1790 - The first purpose-built lifeboat was launched on the River Tyne.
1798 - The first brawl in the U.S. House of Representatives took place. Congressmen Matthew Lyon and Roger Griswold fought on the House floor.
1844 - Richard Theodore Greener became the first African American to graduate from Harvard University.
1847 - The town of Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco.
1862 - The U.S. Navy's first ironclad warship, the "Monitor", was launched.
1889 - Rudolph, crown prince of Austria, and his 17-year-old mistress, Baroness Marie Vetsera, were found shot in his hunting lodge at Mayerling, near Vienna.
1894 - C.B. King received a patent for the pneumatic hammer.
1900 - The British fighting the Boers in South Africa ask for a larger army.
1910 - Work began on the first board-track automobile speedway. The track was built in Playa del Ray, CA.
1911 - The first airplane rescue at sea was made by the destroyer "Terry." Pilot James McCurdy was forced to land in the ocean about 10 miles from Havana, Cuba.
1933 - "The Lone Ranger" was heard on radio for the first time. The program ran for 2,956 episodes and ended in 1955.
1933 - Adolf Hitler was named the German Chancellor.
1948 - Indian political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi was murdered by a Hindu extremist.
1950 - NBC-TV debuted "Robert Montgomery Presents." The show lasted for seven seasons.
1958 - Yves Saint Laurent, at age 22, held his first major fashion show in Paris.
1958 - The first two-way moving sidewalk was put in service at Love Field in Dallas, TX. The length of the walkway through the airport was 1,435 feet.
1960 - The women’s singles U.S. figure skating championship was won by Carol Heiss.
1962 - Two members of the "Flying Wallendas" high-wire act were killed when their seven-person pyramid collapsed during a performance in Detroit, MI.
1964 - January 30 - The U.S. launched Ranger 6. The unmanned spacecraft carried television cameras and was intentionally crash-landed on the moon. The cameras did not return any pictures to Earth.
1968 - The Tet Offensive began as Communist forces launched surprise attacks against South Vietnamese provincial capitals.
1972 - In Northern Ireland, British soldiers shot and killed thirteen Roman Catholic civil rights marchers. The day is known as "Bloody Sunday."
1979 - The civilian government of Iran announced it had decided to allow Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to return. He had been living in exile in France.
1989 - The U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan was closed.
1994 - Peter Leko became the world's youngest-ever grand master in chess.
1995 - The U.N. Security Council authorized the deployment of a 6,000-member U.N. peace-keeping contingent to assume security responsibilities in Haiti from U.S. forces.
1995 - Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health announced that clinical trials had demonstrated the effectiveness of the first preventative treatment for sickle cell anaemia.
1996 - Gino Gallagher, the reputed leader of the Irish National Liberation Army, was shot and killed as he queued for his unemployment benefit.
1997 - A New Jersey judge ruled that the unborn child of a female prisoner must have legal representation. He denied the prisoner bail reduction to enable her to leave the jail and obtain an abortion.
2002 - Slobodan Milosevic accused the U.N. war crimes tribunal of an "evil and hostile attack" against him. Milosevic was defending his actions during the Balkan wars.
2002 - Japan's last coal mine was closed. The closures were due to high production costs and cheap imports.