Joseph Stalin became the leader of the Soviet Union. (1927) Stalin replaced Leon Trotsky, who had been expelled from the Communist Party. Stalin forced Trotsky into exile and later sent assassins to kill him.
The World War II Battle of Guadalcanal began. (1942) The three-day battle ended with an Allied victory that gave enough of a strategic advantage to be the turning point in the six-month Guadalcanal Campaign. The Allies were ultimately victorious when the campaign ended on February 9, 1943.
Ellis Island closed. (1954) More than 12 million immigrants were processed through Ellis Island in New York Harbor between 1892 and this day in 1954. More than 100 million American citizens — about 30 percent of the US population — can trace their ancestors back to one of the immigrants admitted to the US through Ellis Island.
Major League Baseball (MLB) elected its first Commissioner. (1920) A US federal judge named Kenesaw Mountain Landis was the first MLB Commissioner. The appointment was meant to restore the fan's trust in the integrity of the sport, which had been damaged by a scandal during the World Series in 1919.
US President Gerald R. Ford became the longest-living US President. (2006) President Ford turned 93 years and 121 days old, beating out US President Reagan. President Ford died about a month later.
The first meteor shower in North America was recorded. (1799) American astronomer Ellicott Douglass recorded the Leonids meteor shower while he was visiting the Florida Keys. He was the first to record a meteor shower on the North American continent. The Leonids meteor shower occurs annually and sometimes is accompanied by the Tempel-Tuttle comet.
US President Jimmy Carter cut off US oil imports from Iran, ending peaceful diplomatic relations between the two countries. (1979) The oil import ban was a response to the Iran Hostage Crisis in which 66 US citizens were taken hostage at the American embassy in Tehran.
William "Pudge" Heffelfinger became the first professional football player in the US. (1892) Heffelfinger was the first known player to be paid to play. The Allegheny Athletic Association in Pittsburgh paid him $500 US Dollars to play against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club.
The first photos of Saturn's rings were transmitted to Earth. (1980) NASA's space probe Voyager 1 reached Saturn on this day and sent photos of the planet's rings back to Earth, nearly a billion miles (about 1.6 billion km) away.
"The Nose" was first climbed. (1958) The most famous of the two cliff faces on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley was first ascended by a rock-climbing team including Warren Harding, George Whitmore, and Wayne Merry. The ascent took 47 days. With modern climbing tools, "The Nose" can be climbed today in about four or five days.