It is the 288th day of the year, with 77 days remaining until the end of the year.
1764 - Edward Gibbon observes a group of friars singing in the ruined Temple of Jupiter in Rome, which inspires him to begin work on The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
1783 - The Montgolfier brothers' hot air balloon marks the first human ascent, by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier.
1815 - Napoleon I begins his exile on Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.
1863 - The Confederate H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship, sinks during a test, killing crew and its inventor.
1878 - The Edison Electric Light Company begins operation.
1888 - The "From Hell" letter sent by Jack the Ripper is received by investigators.
1917 - At Vincennes outside of Paris, Dutc dancer Mata Hari is executed by firing squad for spying for the German Empire.
1939 - The New York Municipal Airport is dedicated, it will later be renamed La Guardia Airport.
1966 - The Black Panther Party is created by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.
1989 - Wayne Gretzky becomes the all-time leading points scorer in the National Hockey League.
1990 - Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to lessen Cold War tensions and open up his nation.
2003 - China launches its first manned space mission, Shenzhou 5.
2008 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 733.08 points, or 7.87%, the second worst day in the Dow's history.