1500 – Vicente Yáñez Pinzón becomes the first European to set foot on Brazil.
1531 – The 1531 Lisbon earthquake kills about thirty thousand people.
1564 – The Council of Trent establishes an official distinction between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
1564 – The Grand Duchy of Lithuania defeats the Tsardom of Russia in the Battle of Ula during the Livonian War.
1565 – Battle of Talikota, fought between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Deccan sultanates, leads to the subjugation, and eventual destruction of the last Hindu kingdom in India, and the consolidation of Islamic rule over much of the Indian subcontinent.
1699 – For the first time, the Ottoman Empire permanently cedes territory to the Christian powers.
1700 – The Cascadia earthquake takes place off the west coast of North America, as evidenced by Japanese records.
1736 – Stanislaus I of Poland abdicates his throne.
1788 – The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sails into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on the continent. Commemorated as Australia Day.
1808 – The Rum Rebellion is the only successful (albeit short-lived) armed takeover of the government in Australia.
1837 – Michigan is admitted as the 26th U.S. state.
1838 – Tennessee enacts the first prohibition law in the United States
1841 – James Bremer takes formal possession of Hong Kong Island at what is now Possession Point, establishing British Hong Kong.
1855 – Point No Point Treaty is signed in Washington Territory.
1856 – First Battle of Seattle. Marines from the USS Decatur drive off American Indian attackers after all day battle with settlers.
1861 – American Civil War: The state of Louisiana secedes from the Union.
1863 – American Civil War: General Ambrose Burnside is relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac after the disastrous Fredericksburg campaign. He is replaced by Joseph Hooker.
1863 – American Civil War: Governor of Massachusetts John Albion Andrew receives permission from the Secretary of War to raise a militia organization for men of African descent.
1870 – Reconstruction Era: Virginia rejoins the Union.
1885 – Troops loyal to The Mahdi conquer Khartoum, killing the Governor-General Charles George Gordon.
1905 – The world's largest diamond ever, the Cullinan weighing 3,106.75 carats (0.621350 kg), is found at the Premier Mine near Pretoria in South Africa.
1911 – Glenn H. Curtiss flies the first successful American seaplane.
1915 – The Rocky Mountain National Park is established by an act of the U.S. Congress.
1918 – Finnish Civil War: A group of Red Guards hangs a red lantern atop the tower of Helsinki Workers' Hall to symbolically mark the start of the war.
1920 – Former Ford Motor Company executive Henry Leland launches the Lincoln Motor Company which he later sold to his former employer.
1926 – The first demonstration of the television by John Logie Baird.
1930 – The Indian National Congress declares 26 January as Independence Day or as the day for Poorna Swaraj ("Complete Independence") which occurred 17 years later.
1934 – The Apollo Theater reopens in Harlem, New York City.
1934 – German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact is signed.
1939 – Spanish Civil War – Catalonia Offensive: Troops loyal to nationalist General Francisco Franco and aided by Italy take Barcelona.
1942 – World War II: The first United States forces arrive in Europe landing in Northern Ireland.
1945 – World War II: The Red Army begins encircling the German Fourth Army near Heiligenbeil in East Prussia, which will end in destruction of the 4th Army two months later.
1945 – World War II: Audie Murphy displays valor and bravery in action for which he will later be awarded the Medal of Honor.
1949 – The Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory sees first light under the direction of Edwin Hubble, becoming the largest aperture optical telescope (until BTA-6 is built in 1976).
1950 – The Constitution of India comes into force, forming a republic. Rajendra Prasad is sworn in as its first President of India. Observed as Republic Day in India.
1952 – Black Saturday in Egypt: rioters burn Cairo's central business district, targeting British and upper-class Egyptian businesses.
1956 – Soviet Union hands Porkkala back to Finland.
1961 – John F. Kennedy appoints Janet G. Travell to be his physician. This is the first time a woman holds the appointment of Physician to the President.
1962 – Ranger 3 is launched to study the Moon. The space probe later misses the moon by 22,000 miles (35,400 km).
1965 – Hindi becomes the official language of India.
1980 – Israel and Egypt establish diplomatic relations.
1986 – The Ugandan government of Tito Okello is overthrown by the National Resistance Army, led by Yoweri Museveni.
1991 – Mohamed Siad Barre is removed from power in Somalia, ending centralized government, and is succeeded by Ali Mahdi.
1992 – Boris Yeltsin announces that Russia will stop targeting United States cities with nuclear weapons.
1998 – Lewinsky scandal: On American television, U.S. President Bill Clinton denies having had "sexual relations" with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
2001 – The 7.7 Mw Gujarat earthquake shakes Western India with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme), leaving 13,805–20,023 dead and about 166,800 injured.
2004 – President Hamid Karzai signs the current Constitution of Afghanistan.
2005 – Glendale train crash: Two trains derail killing 11 and injuring 200 in Glendale, California, near Los Angeles.
2009 – Rioting breaks out in Antananarivo, Madagascar, sparking a political crisis that will result in the replacement of President Marc Ravalomanana with Andry Rajoelina.
2015 – An aircraft crashes at Los Llanos Air Base in Albacete, Spain, killing 11 people and injuring 21 others.