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- January 11 - Orval Faubus is elected Governor of Arkansas.
- February 5 - The Branch Davidians are founded after breaking away from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- June 11 - The People's Temple is founded by Jim Jones.
- August 18 - Beginning of the First Sudanese Civil War.
- August 28 - Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American boy, is abducted from his uncle's home in Money, Mississippi and brutally lynched by Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam.
- September 11 - Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam are acquitted for the lynching of Emmett Till by an all-white jury.
- October 26 - The State of Vietnam is reorganized into the Republic of South Vietnam. Ngô Đình Diệm is named president of the new republic, replacing former Chief of State Bảo Đại.
- November 1 - Beginning of the Vietnam War.
- November 1 - Jack Gilbert Graham blows up United Airlines Flight 629 by planting a dynamite bomb in the plane's checked luggage, causing the plane to explode over Longmont, Colorado. All 39 passengers and 5 crew are killed.
- November 27 - Westboro Baptist Church is founded in Topeka, Kansas by Fred Phelps.
- January 28 - Nicolas Sarkozy
- February 24 - Woo Bum Kon
- April 1 - Terry Nichols
- April 2 - Mark O. Barton
- May 9 - Meles Zanawi
- May 10 - Mark David Chapman
- May 29 - John Hinckley, Jr.
- July 26 - Asif Ali Zardari
- August 7 - Diane Downs
- August 8 - Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour
- September 6 - Zoran Vuković
- October 17 - Tyrone Mitchell
- October 19 - Jean Kambanda
- October 24 - Katherine Knight
- November 22 - John Russell Houser
- December 3 - Warren Jeffs
- December 23 - Charles Lee Thornton
- December 26 - Dawood Ibrahim
- Unknown - Michael Stone
- Janruary 8 - Patricia List
- March 6 - Cyprien Ntaryamira
- April 4 - John Price
- Unknown - Debra Johnson
- January 11 - Rodolfo Graziani
- February 3 - Vasily Blokhin
- June 3 - Barbara Graham
- September 15 - Eduard Strauch
- August 28 - Emmett Till