1776: American Captain Nathan Hale is hanged as a spy by the British in New York City; his last words are reputed to have been, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
1789: Russian forces under Aleksandr Suvorov drive the Turkish army under Yusuf Pasha from the Rymnik River, upsetting the Turkish invasion of Russia.
1862: President Abraham Lincoln issues a proclamation calling for all slaves within the rebel states to be freed on January 1, a political move that helps keep the British from intervening on the side of the South.
1869: The Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional baseball team, arrive in San Francisco after a rollicking, barnstorming tour of the West.
1906: Race riots in Atlanta, Georgia leave 21 people dead.
1914: The German cruiser Emden shells Madras, India, destroying 346,000 gallons of fuel and killing only five civilians.
1915: Xavier University, the first African-American Catholic college, opens in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1919: President Woodrow Wilson abandons his national tour to support the League of Nations when he suffers a case of nervous exhaustion.
1945: President Harry Truman accepts U.S. Secretary of War Stimson's recommendation to designate the war World War II.
1947: A Douglas C-54 Skymaster makes the first automatic pilot flight over the Atlantic.
1961: President John Kennedy signs a congressional act establishing the Peace Corps.
1969: Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants becomes the first baseball player since Babe Ruth to hit 600 home runs.
1970: President Richard M. Nixon signs a bill giving the District of Columbia representation in the U.S. Congress.
1975: Sara Jane Moore attempts to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford, the second attempt on his life in less than three weeks.
1980: The Iran-Iraq War begins as Iraq invades Iran; lasting until August 1988, it was the longest conventional war of the 20th century.
1991: Huntington Library makes the Dead Sea Scrolls available to the public for the first time.