1631: English soldier and explorer John Smith, who played an important part in the establishment of the first permanent English settlement in North America, dies at the age of 51 in London, England. Smith is most famously linked to Pocahontas, the daughter of the chief of the Powhatans, who he said shielded him from execution by her father. However, many historians have questioned Smith's story, seeing it as either an exaggeration or a misunderstanding on the explorer's part. Smith, who was the leader of the Virginia Colony between September 1608 and August 1609, led explorations along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay and was key in supporting the English colonization of the New World.
1768: The first commencement of a U.S. medical college was held at the College of Philadelphia, with the school granting 10 bachelor of medicine degrees. Being alphabetically at the head of the list, John Archer (pictured) thus became the first doctor in the U.S. to receive such a degree.
1788: New Hampshire ratifies the Constitution of the United States and is admitted as the ninth state.
1791: King Louis XVI of France and his immediate family begin the Flight to Varennes during the French Revolution. Louis had hoped to eventually make to Austria in order to initiate a counter-revolution, but he was recognized and his group arrested before they could reach their destination. The king's attempted flight provoked the charges of treason that ultimately led to his execution in 1793.
1876: Mexican political leader, general, and 11-time president Antonio López de Santa Anna dies from a stroke at the age of 82 in Mexico City. Santa Anna fought first against Mexican independence from Spain and then in support of it, with his military failures resulting in Mexico losing just over half its territory, beginning with the Texas Revolution.
1893: The first Ferris Wheel premieres at Chicago's Columbian Exposition, America's third world's fair. The 264-foot wheel was invented by George Washington Ferris, a Pittsburgh bridge builder, for the purpose of creating an attraction like the 1889 Paris Exposition's Eiffel Tower. While his invention was a smashing success, Ferris would die less than four years later, at the age of 37, on the edge of bankruptcy, unable to claim enough of his share of the profits to cover his expenses.
1898: During the Spanish-American War, the United States captures Guam from Spain. The Spanish garrison on the western Pacific Ocean island had no knowledge of the war and surrendered Guam to the USS Charleston (seen here entering Agana, the main port of Guam) without any resistance. Guam was later formally ceded as part of the Treaty of Paris that ended the war.
1900: During the Boxer Rebellion, China formally declares war on the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan under an edict issued from the Dowager Empress Cixi. Seen here is a Chinese Boxer soldier during the rebellion.
1905: French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism, is born in Paris, France. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused the honor, saying that he always declined official honors and that "a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution." Sartre, who was the first Nobel Laureate to voluntarily decline the prize, died of edema of the lung at the age of 74 in Paris, France, on April 15, 1980.
1919: Worried that his ships would be seized and divided among the allied powers, Adm. Ludwig von Reuter scuttles the German fleet, which had been interned under his command at Scapa Flow in Scotland's Orkney Islands. The nine German sailors shot and killed by British forces in the aftermath are often considered the last casualties of World War I, which had effectively been ended by the Armistice signed on Nov. 11, 1918.
1921: Actress Jane Russell, one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s, is born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell in Bemidji, Minn. Russell made her debut in "The Outlaw" (pictured), a 1943 movie about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to showcase her voluptuous figure, before going on to star in movies such as "The Paleface" opposite Bob Hope, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" opposite Marilyn Monroe, and "His Kind of Woman" and "Macao" opposite Robert Mitchum. She died of respiratory failure at the age of 89 on Feb. 28, 2011.
1925: Actress Maureen Stapleton, best known for her roles in the movies "Lonelyhearts," "Bye Bye Birdie," "Airport," "Interiors," "Reds," "Johnny Dangerously" and "Cocoon," is born in Troy, N.Y. Stapleton, who got her start on Broadway in the 1940s, earned four Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress in her career, winning in 1982 for "Reds." She died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on March 13, 2006, at the age of 80.
1939: The New York Yankees announce that Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is retiring from baseball. Gehrig hadn't played in a game since April 30, ending his record streak of 2,130 consecutive games played.
1942: A Japanese submarine surfaces near the Columbia River in Oregon, firing shells at nearby Fort Stevens. The attack made the fort the only military installation in the continental United States to receive hostile fire during World War II. Despite firing 17 shells at the fort over two nights, the submarine failed to damage Fort Stevens itself, instead claiming the post's baseball field backstop as its only casualty. Here, U.S. servicemen inspect a shell crater after the Japanese attack.
1944: Rock musician Ray Davies, best known as lead singer and songwriter for The Kinks, is born in London, England. Davies was responsible for The Kinks' biggest hits, including "You Really Got Me," "All Day and All of the Night," "Tired of Waiting for You" and "Lola."
1944: Filmmaker Tony Scott, best known for directing action movies such as "Top Gun," "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Days of Thunder," "True Romance" and "Crimson Tide," is born in North Shields, England.
1947: Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter, best known for playing the parents Steven and Elyse Keaton on the sitcom "Family Ties," are both born. Baxter was born in South Pasadena, Calif., while Gross was born in Chicago, Ill.
1948: Columbia Records unveils its new long-playing, 33 1/3 rpm phonograph record. The introduction of the LP revolutionized the recording industry, allowing a collection of 10 or more pop songs to be put on a single disc. The album "The Voice of Frank Sinatra" had the honor of being the first pop album catalogue item released in the format.
1955: Johnny Cash's first single, "Cry! Cry! Cry!," is released by Sun Records with the B-side of "Hey, Porter."
1957: Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, the creator of the 1980s comic strip "Bloom County," is born in Encino, Calif. Breathed, who won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1987, also created the strips "Outland" and "Opus" before discontinuing all work on comic strips in 2008 to focus on writing children's books. Among his best known children's books is 2007's "Mars Needs Moms!," which was adapted into an animated film in 2011.
1959: Country music singer-songwriter Kathy Mattea, a four-time Grammy winner best known for the No. 1 country music hits "Goin' Gone," "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses," "Come from the Heart" and "Burnin' Old Memories," is born in South Charleston, W.Va.
1961: The Walt Disney comedy "The Parent Trap," starring Hayley Mills in a dual role as teenage twins on a quest to reunite their divorced parents, premieres in theaters. The film, which made $25 million at the box office, spawned several television sequels and a remake in 1998 starring Lindsay Lohan, Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid.
1963: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini is elected as Pope Paul VI.
1964: Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches the seventh perfect game in major-league baseball history, a 6-0 victory over the New York Mets.
1973: In handing down the decision in Miller v. California, the Supreme Court of the United States redefines its definition of obscenity from that of "utterly without socially redeeming value" to that that lacks "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value." The decision also established a test allowing for community standards rather than a national standard in defining what can be labeled obscene.
1973: Actress and singer Juliette Lewis, best known for movies such as "Cape Fear," "Kalifornia," "Natural Born Killers" and "From Dusk till Dawn," is born in Los Angeles, Calif.
1978: Actress Erica Durance, best known for playing Lois Lane on the TV series "Smallville," is born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
1979: Actor Chris Pratt, best known for the TV series "Everwood" and "Parks and Recreation," and for roles in movies such as "Take Me Home Tonight," "Moneyball" and "Zero Dark Thirty," is born in Virginia, Minn.
1981: Rock musician and singer-songwriter Brandon Flowers, best known as the frontman for the rock band The Killers, is born in Henderson, Nev.
1982: John Hinckley Jr. is found not guilty by reason of insanity for the March 30, 1981, attempted assassination of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Hinckley has since remained under institutional psychiatric care.
1982: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is born in London, England. William is the elder son of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Charles, Prince of Wales, and third-eldest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
1985: The drama "Cocoon," starring Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Steve Guttenberg and Jessica Tandy, and directed by Ron Howard, premieres in theaters. The film, about a group of elderly people rejuvenated by aliens, was a box office success, earning more than $85 million worldwide, and won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Ameche) and Best Visual Effects.
1985: Singer-songwriter and musician Kris Allen, the winner of the eighth season of "American Idol," is born in Jacksonville, Ark. His self-titled major label album debut peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 album chart and featured the Platinum-certified No. 18 hit song "Live Like We're Dying."
1986: Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey, best known for hit songs such as "Video Games," "Blue Jeans," "National Anthem," "Born to Die" and "Summertime Sadness," is born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant in New York City.
1989: The Supreme Court of the United States rules in Texas v. Johnson that burning the American flag as a form of political protest is protected by the First Amendment. The 5-4 decision invalidated prohibitions on desecrating the flag enforced in 48 of the 50 states.
1997: The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) begins play with the New York Liberty beating the Los Angeles Sparks.
1997: Pop singer and dancer Rebecca Black, best known for the 2011 viral music video hit "Friday," is born in Irvine, Calif.
2001: Blues singer-songwriter and guitarist John Lee Hooker, whose best known songs include "Boogie Chillen'," "I'm in the Mood" and "Boom Boom," dies at the age of 83 in Los Altos, Calif. Hooker developed a "talking blues" style that became his trademark and recorded more than 100 albums in his lifetime. He won four Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
2001: Actor Carroll O'Connor, best known for playing Archie Bunker on the sitcoms "All in the Family" and "Archie Bunker's Place," dies at the age of 76 in Culver City, Calif., from a heart attack brought on by complications from diabetes. O'Connor was also known for the TV crime drama "In the Heat of the Night."
2004: SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately funded spaceplane to achieve spaceflight. The spaceplane is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
2006: Pluto's newly discovered moons are officially named Nix and Hydra.
2007: American businessman Bob Evans, who founded the Bob Evans Restaurants chain, dies from complications of a stroke at the age of 89 in Cleveland, Ohio.
2010: Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, pleads guilty to charges of plotting a failed May 1, 2010, car bombing in New York's Times Square. He would later be sentenced to life in prison. The bomb, which was discovered after street vendors noticed smoke coming from a vehicle, failed to detonate and was disarmed before it could cause any injuries.
2010: Rapper Eminem's album "Recovery" is released in the United States and the U.K. The album would debut at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, a spot it would hold for a total of seven non-consecutive weeks. It featured the No. 1 hit songs "Not Afraid" and "Love The Way You Lie," the former of which earned Eminem a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.