- 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase is completed at a ceremony in New Orleans.
- 1860 – South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the United States.
- 1946 – The film It’s a Wonderful Life is first released in New York City.
- 1968 – The so-called Zodiac Killer killed his first two confirmed victims in Vallejo, California. He would go on to kill at least five people, though he took credit for three dozen deaths.
- 1971 – The international aid organization Doctors Without Borders is founded in Paris.
- 1989 – The U.S. invaded Panama to oust Manuel Noriega and install the duly elected civilian government.