[Voyager 2 passed Neptune on this day in 1989;
at 4.3 billion km (2.7 billion miles) from Earth, it's still closer
to the Baseball Hall of Fame than Pete Rose.]
79 CE - The eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the Roman resort towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae under 2 metres or more of volcanic ash and pumice.
1215 - Pope Innocent III declared the Magna Carta invalid; obviously, interfering in the political affairs of sovereign nations has long been a favourite pastime of the Vatican.
1456 - Legend has it the first printing of the Gutenberg Bible was completed in the German town of Mainz.
1572 - On the orders of France's King Charles IX a massacre of Huguenots began, on St. Bartholomew's Day; believed to have been instigated by France's Queen Mother Catherine de' Medici, the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre remains the darkest part of the French Wars of Religion.
1690 - Kolkata, India was founded by the British East India Company on the site of three villages thought to have been inhabited for more than two thousand years.
1814 - Canadian forces under the command of British general Robert Ross and Admiral Sir George Cockburn led an invasion of Washington DC which left much of the city - including the White House, Library of Congress, and Capitol Building - in ruins in retaliation for the earlier sacking and burning of York (now called Toronto).
1821 - The Treaty of Córdoba was signed in Córdoba, concluding the Mexican War of Independence from Spain.
1847 - Charlotte Brontë finished writing Jane Eyre.
1891 - The motion picture camera - which he called a Kinetograph - was patented by Thomas Edison.
1931 - Just two years into its electoral mandate, the United Kingdom's Second Labour Government under Ramsay MacDonald resigned en masse as the Great Depression deepened; this led to the formation of the so-called National Government, theoretically comprised of members from all parties but dominated by Labour members, with MacDonald still in charge at Number 10.
1932 - Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the United States.
1937 - During the Spanish Civil War, the Basque Army surrendered to the Italian Corpo Truppe Volontarie following the Santoña Agreement.
1950 - Edith Sampson was named the first black woman to represent the US at the United Nations.
1954 - Brazilian president Getúlio Dornelles Vargas committed suicide in the Catete Palace, leaving behind a suicide note known as the Carta Testamento; he was succeeded by João Café Filho.
1967 - Led by Abbie Hoffman, a group of hippies temporarily disrupted trading at the New York Stock Exchange by throwing dollar bills from the viewing gallery, causing a cease in trading as the brokers scrambled to grab them up.
1981 - Mark David Chapman was sentenced to serve 20 years to life for the murder of John Lennon; he's been denied parole a total of five occasions since October 2000.
1989 - Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose was banned from baseball for gambling by Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti.
1991 - Ukraine seceded from the Soviet Union.
1992 - Hurricane Andrew made landfall in South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane.
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