Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama became the first navigator to sail around the Cape of Good Hope in his search for a sea route to India.
Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the pirate, was killed off the east coast of North America.
Mount St. Helens in Washington state erupted. Ash fallout reached as far as 48 mi away.
"S-O-S" was adopted as a distress signal at the International Radio Telegraphic Convention in Berlin.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.