1842: The first adhesive stamp was used in the United States by the City Despatch Post, a private concern later acquired by the government for $1,200.
1848: Caledonian Railway opened.
1898: United States battleship Maine blown up by a mine while on goodwill tour to Havana, resulting in the short Spanish-American War.
1901: The first British parliament of the 20th century opened with a new member for Oldham named Winston Churchill.
1908: Frank Richards’s famous bespectacled creation Billy Bunter, “the fat owl of the remove”, made his debut in the first issue of The Magnet magazine. He appeared in 1,683 more issues before the magazine closed in 1940.
1922: The Permanent Court of International Justice held its first sitting at The Hague.
1928: After 70 years of research, the Oxford English Dictionary was completed at a cost of £30,000.
1933: An attempt was made on the life of United States president-elect Franklin D Roosevelt in Miami by an unemployed Italian bricklayer who said his hobby was shooting at – and, because he was a poor shot, missing – heads of state. He also aimed inaccurately at King Victor Emmanuel of Italy.
1942: Singapore surrendered to Japan. “A heavy and far-reaching military defeat,” said Winston Churchill of the loss of the fortress which cost £50million.
1944: Allied aircraft bombed Monte Cassino monastery in Italy.
1945: British troops reached the Rhine.
1952: The funeral of King George VI took place at Windsor.
1964: Canada adopted its maple leaf flag.
1971: Shops were in total confusion as the change-over to decimal currency came into effect in Britain.
1981: Football League games were first played on a Sunday.
1982: The Ocean Ranger oil rig sank off Newfoundland with the loss of all 84 on board.
1990: Britain and Argentina agreed to resume diplomatic relations broken since Falklands hostilities.
1991: Offer by Saddam Hussein to leave Kuwait if Gulf solution was linked to Israeli withdrawal from West Bank and Gaza was dismissed by George Bush, the United States president, as “cruel hoax”, and by John Major, the prime minister, as “bogus sham”.
1995: Rioting English football hooligans forced a match with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin to be abandoned.
1996: The Scott Inquiry into the arms-to-Iraq affair found that government ministers had misled Parliament by secretly relaxing an arms embargo.
2000: Indian Point II nuclear power plant in New York State vented a small amount of radioactive steam when a steam generator failed.
2003: Protests against the Iraq war took place in more than 600 cities worldwide. It was estimated that between eight million to 30 million people participated, making it the largest peace demonstration in history.
Births: 1564 Galileo Galilei, astronomer and physicist; 1874 Sir Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer; 1882 John Barrymore, American actor; 1887 HM Bateman, cartoonist; 1929 Graham Hill, motor racing champion; 1939 Arnold Kemp, editor, the Glasgow Herald 1981-94.
Deaths: 1835 Henry Hunt, political reformer; 1928 Herbert Henry Asquith, Earl of Oxford and Asquith, Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister 1908-1916; 1965 Nat King Cole, singer and pianist; 1970 Air chief marshal Lord Dowding.