686 - Conon becomes Pope.
1797 - In Boston Harbor, the 44-gun United States Navy frigate USS Constitution is launched to fight Barbary pirates off the coast of Tripoli (in 1805 the Tripoli peace treaty was signed on Constitution's deck).
1805 - Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Trafalgar - British naval fleet led by Admiral Lord Nelson defeats a combined French and Spanish off the coast of Spain.
1861 - American Civil War: Battle of Ball's Bluff - Union forces under Colonel Edward Baker are defeated by Confederate troops in the second major battle of the war. Baker, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, is killed in the fighting.
1867 - 'Manifest Destiny': Medicine Lodge Treaty - Near Medicine Lodge Creek, Kansas a landmark treaty is signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders. The treaty requires Native American Plains tribes to relocate a reservation in western Oklahoma.
1879 - Using a filament of carbonized thread, Thomas Edison tests the first practical electric light bulb (it lasted 13 1/2 hours before burning out).
1895 - The Republic of Taiwan collapses as Japanese forces invade.
1902 - In the United States, a five month strike by United Mine Workers ends.
1941 - World War II: Germans rampage in Yugoslavia, killing thousands of civilians.
1945 - Women's suffrage: Women are allowed to vote in France for the first time.
1957 - The movie Jailhouse Rock, starring Elvis Presley, opens.
1959 - In New York City, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum opens to the public. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
1959 - US President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order transferring Wernher Von Braun and other German scientists from the United States Army to NASA.
1967 - Vietnam War: More than 100,000 war protesters gather in Washington, DC. A peaceful rally at the Lincoln Memorial is followed by a march to The Pentagon and clashes with soldiers and United States Marshals protecting the facility (event lasts until October 23; 683 people will be arrested). Similar demonstrations occurred simultaneously in Japan and Western Europe.
1980 - 1980 World Series: During Game 6, the Philadelphia Phillies win their first World Series.
1986 - In Lebanon, pro-Iranian kidnappers claim to have abducted American writer Edward Tracy (he will be released in August 1991).
1994 - North Korea nuclear weapons program: North Korea and the United States sign an agreement that requires North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program and agree to inspections.
1449 - George, Duke of Clarence
1660 - Georg Ernst Stahl, German scientist
1772 - Samuel Taylor Coleridge, British poet († 1834)
1833 - Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor and benefactor of the Nobel Prize († 1896)
1895 - Edna Purviance, actress († 1958)
1908 - Louis L'Amour, novelist († 1988)
1912 - Sir Georg Solti, conductor († 1997)
1914 - Martin Gardner, American writer on mathematics and games
1917 - Dizzy Gillespie, American jazz musician († 1993)
1920 - Hy Averback, film and television director († 1997)
1924 - Celia Cruz, singer († 2003)
1928 - Whitey Ford, American baseball player
1929 - Ursula K. Le Guin, American science fiction author
1940 - Manfred Mann, musician
1941 - Steve Cropper, musician
1942 - Elvin Bishop, musician
1942 - Judge Judy Sheindlin, American judge, television host
1943 - Brian Piccolo, American football star († 1970)
1955 - Rich Mullins, American musician († 1997)
1956 - Carrie Fisher, actress, writer
310 - Pope Eusebius
1558 - Julius Caesar Scaliger, humanist scholar
1805 - Horatio Nelson, British admiral
1896 - James Henry Greathead, British engineer
1931 - Arthur Schnitzler, Austrian writer
1944 - Alois Kayser, German missionary, working in Nauru
1969 - Waclaw Sierpinski, Polish mathematician
1969 - Jack Kerouac, American beat novelist
1984 - François Truffaut, French film director
October 20 - October 22 - November 21 - September 21 - more historical anniversaries
See also: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December