1986 : Explosion of the space shuttle Challenger : On this day in 1986, the U.S. space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after its liftoff from Florida, killing all seven aboard, including a schoolteacher who was the first private citizen to fly on a shuttle.
1915 : Congress created the U.S. Coast Guard by combining the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Lifesaving Service.
1912 : American painter Jackson Pollock, a leading exponent of Abstract Expressionism who received widespread publicity and serious recognition for the radical poured, or “drip," technique he used to create his major works, was born.
1881 : Russian novelist and short-story writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky died in St. Petersburg.
1873 : French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was born in Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye.
1871 : The French capital, Paris, fell following a four-month siege during the Franco-German War.
1457 : King Henry VII of England, who succeeded in ending the Wars of the Roses, was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
814 : Charlemagne, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, died at Aachen (Germany).