- 533 – Mercurius becomes Pope John II, the first pope to adopt a new name upon elevation to the papacy.
- 1492 – Reconquista: the Emirate of Granada, the last Moorishstronghold in Spain, surrenders.
- 1777 – American Revolutionary War: American forces under the command of George Washington repulsed a British attack at theBattle of the Assunpink Creek near Trenton, New Jersey.
- 1788 – Georgia becomes the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution.
- 1791 – Big Bottom massacre in the Ohio Country, marking the beginning of the Northwest Indian War.
- 1818 – The British Institution of Civil Engineers is founded.
- The discovery of the planet Vulcan is announced at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris, France.
- 1863 – American Civil War: The Battle of Stones River (a.k.a. Battle of Murfreesboro) resumes in central Tennessee after a day’s respite, resulting in a significant Union victory.
- 1865 – Uruguayan War: The Siege of Paysandú ends as Brazilianand Coloradans capture Paysandú, Uruguay.
- 1871 – Amadeus I becomes King of Spain.
- 1900 – American statesman and diplomat John Hay announces the Open Door Policy to promote trade with China.
- 1905 – Russo-Japanese War: The Russian garrison surrenders at Port Arthur, China.
- 1911 – A gun battle in the East End of London left two dead and sparked a political row over the involvement of then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill.
- 1920 – The second Palmer Raid takes place with another 6,000 suspected communists and anarchists arrested and held without trial. These raids take place in several U.S. cities.
- 1935 – Bruno Hauptmann goes on trial for the murder of Charles Lindbergh, Jr., infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh.
- 1941 – World War II: German bombing severely damages the Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.
- 1942 – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) convicts 33 members of a German spy ring headed by Fritz Joubert Duquesne in the largest espionage case in United States history—the Duquesne Spy Ring.
- 1942 – World War II: Manila, Philippines is captured by Japanese forces.
- 1945 – World War II: Nuremberg, Germany (in German, Nürnberg) is severely bombed by Allied forces.
- 1971 – The second Ibrox disaster kills 66 fans at a Rangers-Celtic association football (soccer) match.
- 1974 – United States President Richard Nixon signs a bill lowering the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 MPH in order to conserve gasoline during an OPEC embargo.
- 1975 – A bomb blast at Samastipur, Bihar, India, fatally wounds Minister of Railways Lalit Narayan Mishra.
- 1975 – Bangladeshi Marxist leader Siraj Sikder is arrested and dies while in police custody.
- 1976 – The Gale of January 1976 begins, which results in coastal flooding around the southern North Sea coasts, resulting in at least 82 deaths and US$1.3 billion in damage.
- 1981 – One of the largest investigations by a British police force ends when serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”, is arrested in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
Piero di Cosimo, Italian painter in 1462
Nathaniel Bacon, English-American rebel leader in 1647
Osman III, Ottoman sultan in 1699
Folke Bernadotte, Swedish lieutenant and diplomat in 1895
King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia in 1861
James Dooley, Irish-Australian politician; 21st Premier of New South Wales in 1950.