230 years ago Lord Cornwallis’ representatives handed his sword to the French and American commanders outside the British fortifications at Yorktown, Virginia. It would take two more years for negotiations to result in a treaty, but with the surrender of the largest British armies in the colonies, the War of American Independence was decided on this day.
This is not the only major event in world history that happened on this date. In 1812 the Emperor Napoleon began his retreat from Moscow on this date; exactly one year later he lost the Battle of Leipzig, ending his control over Germany and beginning the final phase of his defeat. (In 1805 he won one of his most important victories on October 19, defeating the Austrians at the Battle of Ulm.)
This is also the date on which Scipio defeated the Carthaginians at the Battle of Zama, putting an end to the Second Punic War.