1859 - At Port Said, Egypt, ground is broken for the Suez Canal, stretching 101 miles between the Mediterranean and the Red seas. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat who organized the colossal undertaking, delivered the pickax blow that inaugurated construction.
1867 - Tokyo was opened for foreign trade.
1945 - During World War II, U.S. and Soviet forces linked up on the Elbe River, a meeting that dramatized the collapse of Nazi Germany's defenses.
1945 - The United Nations is organized in San Francisco, California by 50 nations.
1953 - Dr. James D. Watson and Dr. Francis H.C. Crick suggested the double helix structure of DNA.
1967 - Colorado Governor John Love signed the first law legalizing abortion in the U.S. The law was limited to therapeutic abortions when agreed to, unanimously, by a panel of three physicians.
1974 - Coup in Portugal restores democracy (see Carnation Revolution).
1980 - In Iran, a commando mission to rescue hostages was aborted after mechanical problems disabled three of the eight helicopters involved. During the evacuation, a helicopter and a transport plan collided and exploded. Eight U.S. servicemen were killed. The mission was aimed at freeing American hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.
1992 - Islamic forces in Afghanistan took control of most of the capital of Kabul following the collapse of the Communist government.
"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
- William James, American philosopher and psychologist (1842-1910)