* 303 – Roman Emperor Diocletian orders the destruction of the Christian church in Nicomedia, beginning eight years of Diocletianic Persecution.
* 1455 – Traditional date for the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed with movable type.
* 1739 – Richard Palmer is identified at York Castle, by his former schoolteacher, as the outlaw Dick Turpin.
* 1778 – American Revolution: Baron von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to help to train the Continental Army.
* 1820 – Cato Street Conspiracy: A plot to murder all the British cabinet ministers is exposed.
* 1821 – Alexander Ypsilantis starts the Greek War of Independence in Iași, Wallachia, modern-day Romania.
* 1836 – The Battle of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas.
* 1846 – John Henry Newman leaves the Church of England and is received into the Roman Catholic Church.
* 1847 – Mexican-American War: Battle of Buena Vista – In Mexico, American troops under General Zachary Taylor defeat Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna.
* 1854 – The official independence of the Orange Free State is declared.
* 1861 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C., after the thwarting of an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland.
* 1870 – In the United States, post-Civil War military control of Mississippi ends and it is readmitted to the Union.
* 1883 – Alabama becomes the first U.S. state to enact an antitrust law.
* 1886 – Charles Martin Hall produced the first samples of man-made aluminum, after several years of intensive work. He was assisted in this project by his older sister Julia Brainerd Hall.
* 1887 – The French Riviera is hit by a large earthquake, killing around 2,000.
* 1896 – The Tootsie Roll is invented.
* 1898 – Émile Zola is imprisoned in France after writing "J'accuse", a letter accusing the French government of anti-Semitism and wrongfully imprisoning Captain Alfred Dreyfus.
* 1900 – In South Africa, Boers and British troops fight in the Battle of Hart's Hill.
* 1903 – Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States "in perpetuity".
* 1905 – Chicago attorney Paul Harris and three other businessmen meet for lunch to form the Rotary Club, the world's first service club.
* 1909 – The AEA Silver Dart makes the first powered flight in Canada and the British Empire.
* 1917 – First demonstrations in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The beginning of the February Revolution.
* 1918 – First victory of Red Army over the Kaiser's German troops near Narva and Pskov. In honor of this victory, the date is celebrated from 1923 onward as "Red Army Day"; it is renamed Defender of the Fatherland Day after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and is colloquially known as "Men's Day".
* 1927 – President Calvin Coolidge signs a bill by Congress establishing the Federal Radio Commission (later replaced by the Federal Communications Commission) which was to regulate the use of radio frequencies in the United States.
* 1927 – German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg writes a letter to fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli, in which he describes his uncertainty principle for the first time.
* 1934 – Leopold III becomes King of Belgium.
* 1941 – Plutonium is first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.
* 1942 – World War II: Japanese submarines fire artillery shells at the California coastline near Santa Barbara.
* 1943 – A fire breaks out at St. Joseph's Orphanage, County Cavan, Ireland, killing 36 people (35 of whom are children).
* 1944 – The Soviet Union begins the forced deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people from the North Caucasus to Central Asia.
* 1945 – World War II: During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines and a commonly forgotten U.S. Navy Corpsman, reach the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag.
* 1945 – World War II: The 11th Airborne Division, with Filipino guerrillas, free the captives of the Los Baños internment camp.
* 1945 – World War II: The capital of the Philippines, Manila, is liberated by combined Filipino and American forces.
* 1945 – World War II: Capitulation of German garrison in Poznań. The city is liberated by Soviet and Polish forces.
* 1945 – World War II: The German town of Pforzheim is completely destroyed in a raid by 379 British bombers.
* 1947 – The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is founded.
* 1954 – The first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine begins in Pittsburgh.
* 1955 – First meeting of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
* 1958 – Cuban rebels kidnap 5-time world driving champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
* 1966 – In Syria, Baath party member Salah Jadid leads an intra-party military coup that replaces the previous government of General Amin Hafiz, also a Baathist.
* 1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army demands $4 million more to release kidnap victim Patty Hearst.
* 1980 – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini states that Iran's parliament will decide the fate of the American embassy hostages.
* 1981 – In Spain, Antonio Tejero attempts a coup d'état by capturing the Spanish Congress of Deputies.
* 1983 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency announces its intent to buy out and evacuate the dioxin-contaminated community of Times Beach, Missouri.
* 1987 – Supernova 1987a is seen in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
* 1991 – Gulf War: Ground troops cross the Saudi Arabian border and enter Iraq, thus beginning the ground phase of the war.
* 1991 – In Thailand, General Sunthorn Kongsompong leads a bloodless coup d'état, deposing Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan.
* 1997 – A small fire occurs in the Russian Space station, Mir.
* 1998 – In the United States, tornadoes in central Florida destroy or damage 2,600 structures and kill 42.
* 1998 – Osama bin Laden publishes a fatwa declaring jihad against all Jews and "Crusaders"; the latter term is commonly interpreted to refer to the people of Europe and the United States.
* 1999 – Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan is charged with treason in Ankara, Turkey.
* 1999 – An avalanche destroys the Austrian village of Galtür, killing 31.
* 2005 – The controversial French law on colonialism is passed, requiring teachers to teach the "positive values of colonialism". After public outcry, it is repealed at the beginning of 2006.
* 2007 – A train derails on an evening express service near Grayrigg, Cumbria, England, killing one person and injuring 22. This results in hundreds of points being checked over the UK after a few similar accidents.
* 2008 – A United States Air Force B-2 Spirit crashes on Guam. It is the first operational loss of a B-2.
* 2010 – Unknown criminals pour more than 2.5 million liters of diesel oil and other hydrocarbons into the river Lambro, in Northern Italy, causing an environmental disaster.