In 1770, Capt. James Cook, commander of the British ship Endeavour, “discovered” the Great Barrier Reef off Australia by running onto it.
In 1776, the Continental Congress formed a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence calling for freedom from Britain.
In 1942, the United States and the Soviet Union signed a lend-lease agreement to aid the Soviet war effort in World War II.
In 1947, the government announced the end of sugar rationing for households and “institutional users” (e.g., restaurants and hotels) as of midnight.
In 1955, more than 80 people were killed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France when two of the cars collided and crashed into spectators.
In 1962, three prisoners at Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay staged an escape, leaving the island on a makeshift raft; they were never found or heard from again.
In 1970, the United States presence in Libya came to an end as the last detachment left Wheelus Air Base. (The anniversary of this event is celebrated as a holiday in Libya.)
In 1978, Joseph Freeman Jr. became the first black priest ordained in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
In 1985, Karen Ann Quinlan, the comatose patient whose case prompted a historic right-to-die court decision, died in Morris Plains, New Jersey, at age 31.
In 1986, the John Hughes comedy “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” starring Matthew Broderick, was released by Paramount Pictures.
In 1987, Margaret Thatcher became the first British prime minister in 160 years to win a third consecutive term of office as her Conservatives held onto a reduced majority in Parliament.
In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that people who commit “hate crimes” motivated by bigotry may be sentenced to extra punishment; the court also ruled religious groups had a constitutional right to sacrifice animals in worship services. The Steven Spielberg science-fiction film “Jurassic Park” opened in wide release two days after its world premiere in Washington, D.C.
In 2001, Timothy McVeigh, 33, was executed by injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.
In 2009, with swine flu reported in more than 70 nations, the World Health Organization declared the first global flu pandemic in 41 years. The NCAA placed Alabama’s football program and 15 other of the school’s athletic teams on three years’ probation for major violations due to misuse of free textbooks, stripping the Crimson Tide of 21 football wins over a three-year period.
In 2014, during a Capitol Hill hearing, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel aggressively defended the secret prisoner exchange of five Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, telling Congress that the risks were too great and the situation too uncertain for the administration to tell lawmakers about the plan. Acclaimed actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee, 91, died in New Rochelle, New York.