1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama became the first European to reach India via the Atlantic Ocean when he arrived at Calicut.
1506 – Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain.
1768 – Dolly Madison, wife of President James Madison, was born in Guilford County, North Carolina.
1799 – Novelist Honoré de Balzac was born in Tours, France.
1862 – The U.S. Congress passed the Homestead Act, allowing any adult over the age of 21 to claim 160 acres of land from public domain.
1873 – San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss received a patent for blue jeans.
1875 – The International Bureau of Weights and Measures was established.
1908 – Actor Jimmy Stewart was born in Indiana, PA.
1927 – Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in New York aboard the small airplane Spirit of St. Louis, and arrived in Paris, France, thirty-one and a half hours later.
1985 – The Dow Jones industrial average broke the 1300 mark for the first time, gaining 19.54 points to close at 1304.88.