October 15 is the 288th day of the year (289th in Leap years). There are 77 days remaining.
- 533 - Byzantine general Belisarius makes his formal entry into Carthage, having conquered it from the Vandals.
- 1552 - Khanate of Kazan is conquered by troops of Ivan Grozny.
- 1582 - Pope Gregory XIII implements the Gregorian Calendar. In Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, October 4 of this year is followed directly by October 15, skipping over 10 days. Other countries follow at various later dates.
- 1764 - While visiting Rome, Edward Gibbon observes a group of barefoot friars singing vespers in the ruined Temple of Jupiter, a sight which inspires him to begin work on a history that will be published as The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
- 1815 - Napoleon I of France begins his exile on St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.
- 1863 - American Civil War: The first successful submarine, the CSS Hunley sinks during a test, killing Horace Lawson Hunley (its inventor) and a crew of seven.
- 1878 - The Edison Electric Company begins operation.
- 1880 - Mexican soldiers kill Victorio, one of the greatest Apache military strategists.
- 1883 - The Supreme Court of the United States declares part of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to be unconstitutional since it allowed individuals and corporations to discriminate based on race.
- 1894 - Alfred Dreyfus is arrested for spying - Dreyfus affair begins.
- 1904 - The Russian Baltic Fleet leaves Reval, Estonia for Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War.
- 1917 - World War I: At Vincennes outside of Paris, Dutch dancer Mata Hari is executed by firing squad for spying for Germany.
- 1932 - Tata Airlines (later to become Air India) makes its first flight.
- 1939 - The New York Municipal Airport (later renamed La Guardia Airport) is dedicated.
- 1940 - The Great Dictator, a satiric social commentary film by and starring Charlie Chaplin, is released.
- 1945 - World War II: Former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, is executed by firing squad for treason.
- 1946 - Nuremberg Trials: Founder of the Gestapo and recently convicted Nazi war criminal, Hermann Göring, poisons himself hours before his scheduled execution.
- 1951 - Television sitcom I Love Lucy premieres starring comedian Lucille Ball and her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz.
- 1953 - British nuclear test Totem 1 detonated at Emu Field, South Australia.
- 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis: A stand-off ensues between the United States and the Soviet Union over Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, putting the entire world under threat of a nuclear war (crisis lasts 13 days from this point).
- 1965 - Vietnam War: The anti-war student-run National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam stages the first public burning of a draft card in the United States.
- 1966 - US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs a bill creating the United States Department of Transportation.
- 1969 - Vietnam War: Hundreds of thousands of people take part in National Moratorium antiwar demonstrations across the United States.
- 1970 - 35 construction workers are killed when a section of the new West Gate Bridge in Melbourne collapses into the river below.
- 1987 - The Great Storm of 1987 hits France and England.
- 1990 - Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to lessen Cold War tensions and open up his nation.
- 1991 - Following a bitter confirmation hearing that involved allegations of sexual misconduct, the United States Senate votes 52 to 48 to confirm Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court of the United States.
- 1992 - In Russia, Andrei Chikatilo is found guilty of 52 serial murders.
- 1995 - Saddam Hussein gains 99.96% of votes in Iraq's presidential elections.
- 1997 - The first supersonic land speed record is set by the ThrustSSC team from the United Kingdom.
- 1997 - The Cassini probe was launched from Cape Canaveral on its way to Saturn.
- 2001 - NASA's Galileo spacecraft passes within 112 miles of Jupiter's moon Io.
- 2003 - China launches Shenzhou 5, their first manned space mission.
- 2003 - Ilham Aliyev becomes President of Azerbaijan succeeding his father Heydar Aliyev.
- 70 BC - Virgil, Roman poet (d. 19 BC)
- 1814 - Mikhail Lermontov, author (d. 1841)
- 1829 - Asaph Hall, astronomer (d. 1907)
- 1836 - James Tissot, French artist (d. 1902)
- 1844 - Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (d. 1900)
- 1858 - John L. Sullivan, boxing champion (d. 1918))
- 1881 - P. G. Wodehouse, British comic novelist (d. 1975)
- 1894 - Moshe Sharett, second Prime Minister of Israel (d. 1965)
- 1898 - Boughera El Ouafi, Algerian athlete (d. 1951)
- 1900 - Mervyn LeRoy, film director (d. 1987)
- 1906 - Hiram Leong Fong, Hawaian politician (d. 2004)
- 1907 - Varian Fry, rescuer of Jewish and other intellectuals from Marseilles in 1940 (d. 1987)
- 1908 - John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian economist
- 1909 - Robert Trout, reporter (d. 2000)
- 1917 - Arthur Schlesinger Jr., political commentator, author
- 1917 - Jan Miner, American actress (d. 2004)
- 1920 - Mario Puzo, American novelist (d. 1999)
- 1920 - Chris Economaki , Indianapolis 500 reporter
- 1923 - Italo Calvino. Italian writer (d. 1985)
- 1924 - Lee Iacocca, industrialist
- 1924 - Jose Quintero , stage director
- 1924 - Mark Lenard, actor (d. 1996)
- 1926 - Michel Foucault, philosopher (d. 1984)
- 1926 - Evan Hunter (Ed McBain, Curt Cannon), author
- 1926 - Jean Peters, actress
- 1926 - Karl Richter, German conductor (d. 1981)
- 1930 - FM-2030 born Fereidoun M. Esfandiary, transhumanist philosopher
- 1931 - Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, Indian president and scientist
- 1935 - Bobby Joe Morrow, American athlete
- 1937 - Barry McGuire, singer
- 1942 - Penny Marshall, actress, comedienne, film director
- 1945 - Jim Palmer, baseball star
- 1946 - Richard Carpenter, singer, pianist, composer (Carpenters)
- 1957 - Mira Nair, Indian director
- 1959 - Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
- 1959 - Emeril Lagasse, chef
- 1959 - Todd Solondz, director
- 1959 - Kernan Coleman, Graphic Designer
- 1970 - Eric Benét, singer
- 1972 - Sandra Kim, Belgian singer, Eurovision Song Contest winner
- 1975 - Ginuwine, singer
- 1981 - Elena Dementieva, tennis player
- 767 - Constantine II , former Patriarch of Constantinople (executed)
- 1002 - Otto-Henry, Duke of Burgundy
- 1389 - Pope Urban VI
- 1582 - Saint Teresa of Avila, Spanish Carmelite nun and poet (b. 1515)
- 1811 - Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland, painter
- 1880 - Victorio, Chiricahua Apache leader
- 1891 - Gilbert Arthur a Beckett, British writer
- 1917 - Mata Hari, Dutch exotic dancer and spy
- 1945 - Pierre Laval, former premier of Vichy French government
- 1946 - Hermann Göring, German air force commander
- 1964 - Cole Porter, American composer
- 2000 - Konrad Emil Bloch, German/American biochemist
- 2001 - Zhang Xueliang, Chinese warlord and military figure
- 2003 - Bertram N. Brockhouse, Canadian physicist
- 2003 - Ben Metcalfe, Greenpeace co-founder
Holidays and observances
October 14 - October 16 - September 15 - November 15 - more historical anniversaries
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