1600 – The East India Company, formed for the exploitation of trade with East and Southeast Asia and India, was incorporated by English royal charter.
1744 – English astronomer James Bradley announces discovery of Earth’s nutation motion (wobble).
1775 – Battle of Quebec in American Revolutionary War; Americans defeated trying to take British stronghold.
1958 – Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista tells his Cabinet he is fleeing the country.
1991 – The Soviet Union legally ceased to exist, Russia and other former Soviet republics having declared themselves independent and having founded the Commonwealth of Independent States on December 21, 1991.
1999 – The United States officially handed over control of the Panama Canal to Panama.
2004 – Taipei 101, then the tallest building in the world, reaching a height of 1,667 feet (508 metres), opened in Taipei, Taiwan.
Births & Deaths: 1869 – Henri Matisse, the artist often regarded as the most-important French painter of the 20th century, was born.
1972 – Baseball great Roberto Clemente died in an airplane crash en route to Nicaragua with relief supplies collected for earthquake survivors.
1937 – Sir Anthony Hopkins, an Oscar-winning actor known for roles in many films, including ‘The Lion in Winter’, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘The Remains of the Day’ was born.
Music: 1879 – Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera “Pirates of Penzance” premieres in NYC.
TV & Film: 1923 – BBC begins using Big Ben chime ID.
Via Britannica / On This Day