1995 : Aleksander Kwaśniewski inaugurated as Polish president : Aleksander Kwaśniewski, formerly an apparatchik of Poland's ruling communist party, was sworn in as the country's president this day in 1995, having narrowly defeated Lech Wałęsa, Poland's first postcommunist president.
2001 : Argentina announced the suspension of payments on its external debt—the biggest debt default in history to date.
1968 : Eighty-two crewmen of the USS Pueblo were released after being held in captivity for 11 months by North Korea, which claimed the U.S. Navy intelligence ship had crossed into its waters.
1941 : Early in World War II, invading Japanese forces defeated U.S. troops at the Battle of Wake Island.
1913 : With the signing of the Federal Reserve Act by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, the Federal Reserve System came into being.
1876 : The first comprehensive constitution of the Ottoman Empire went into effect, giving the sultan full executive power.
1805 : Joseph Smith, an American prophet whose writings, along with the Bible, provide the theological foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Mormon denominations, was born.
1783 : Before the Continental Congress, George Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army.