1791 Morse Code and electric telegraph inventor Samuel F. B. Morse is born. He dies in 1872.
1810 Ludwig Van Beethoven gave the world a romantic piece for piano, with the dedication “For Therese, as a remembrance.” But today nobody remembers Therese. The publisher couldn’t read Beethoven’s handwriting and to this day the piece is known as “Fur Elise.”
1822 Civil War general and President Ulysses S. Grant is born. He dies in 1885.
1865 Just days after the end of the Civil War, the steamer ship Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis, killing over 1,500 freed Union prisoners of war who were returning home. Estimates of the dead in this, America’s worst maritime disaster, range as high as 2,000.
1880 Francis Clarke and M.G. Foster patented the electrical hearing aid.
1882 Ralph Waldo Emerson died in Concord, Massachusetts, one month before his 70th birthday, and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery beside Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
1897 Grant’s Tomb is dedicated.
1927 Civil rights and political activist Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was born. She died in January 2006.
1932 American poet Hart Crane, returning from Mexico where he had gone on a Guggenheim Fellowship, drowned after jumping from a steamer while en route to New York. He was 32.
1937 The nation’s first Social Security checks were distributed.
1938 Geraldine Apponyi was the first American woman to become a queen, when she married King Zog of Albania on this day.
1946 The first commercial carrier ship to be equipped with radar, the SS African Star, was placed in service.
1947 Badfinger singer-guitarist-keyboardist Pete Ham is born. He dies in 1975.
1947 It was “Babe Ruth Day” as baseball fans across the country honored the ailing star.
1950 The Boston Celtics hired Arnold ”Red“ Auerbach to coach their losing team. In 16 seasons, he led them to nine NBA championships.
1956 Rocky Marciano retired from boxing, joining Gene Tunney as the only heavyweight champ to leave undefeated. Marciano finished his career at 49-0, with all but six of those wins by knockout.
1964 The John Lennon book In His Own Write is published in the U.S.
1965 R. C. Duncan patented Pampers brand disposable diapers.
1968 Simon & Garfunkel released their hit song “Mrs. Robinson,” from the film The Graduate.
1974 “Oh My My” by Ringo Starr peaks at Number Five on the pop chart.
1974 “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song” by Jim Croce peaks at Number Nine on the pop chart.
1974 “Let It Ride” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive peaks at Number 23 on the pop chart.
1974 Chicago VII by Chicago hits Number One on the album chart.
1976 David Bowie is detained for several hours by customs officials at the border between Poland and the then-U.S.S.R for carrying Nazi memorabilia.
1981 Ringo Starr marries actress Barbara Bach.
1985 “Rock And Roll Girls” by John Fogerty peaks at Number 20 on the pop chart.
1985 We Are The World by USA For Africa hits Number One on the album chart, where it stays for three weeks.
1988 Open Up And Say … Ahh by Poison is released.
1994 An outdoor funeral service was held for former President Richard M. Nixon at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. The service was attended by all five of his presidential successors.
1996 Actors Sean Penn and Robin Wright are married.
2000 New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani disclosed that he had prostate cancer. Soon after that disclosure, and the revelation that he had a mistress, Giuliani bowed out of the U.S. Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton.