January Through the Years

January 1, 1776 - During the American Revolution, George Washington unveiled the Grand Union Flag, the first national flag in America.

January 1, 1863 - The Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the states rebelling against the Union.

January 1, 1892 - Ellis Island in New York Harbor opened. Over 20 million new arrivals to America were processed until its closing in 1954.

January 1, 1901 - The Commonwealth of Australia was founded as six former British colonies became six states with Edmund Barton as the first prime minister.

January 2, 1942 - During World War II in the Pacific, the Japanese captured the Philippines capital of Manila and the nearby air base at Cavite.

January 2, 1880 - Birthday - Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was born on a military base in Little Rock, Arkansas. He commanded Allied forces during World War II in the Pacific. In 1942, he uttered one of the most famous phrases of the war, "I shall return," when forced to leave the Philippines due to the unchecked Japanese advance. In 1950, after war broke out in Korea, he became commander of the United Nations forces. However, disagreements with President Harry Truman over war policy resulted in his dismissal by Truman in April 1951. MacArthur then appeared before Congress and announced his retirement, declaring, "Old soldiers never die - they just fade away."

January 4, 1974 - President Richard Nixon rejected subpoenas from the Senate Watergate Committee seeking audio tapes and related documents.

January 5, 1925 - Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first female governor inaugurated in the U.S.

January 7, 1714 - A patent was issued for the first typewriter designed by British inventor Henry Mill "for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another, as in writing."

January 10, 1878 - An Amendment granting women the right to vote was introduced in Congress by Senator A.A. Sargent of California. The amendment didn't pass until 1920, forty-two years later.

January 10, 1946 - The first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly took place in London with delegates from 51 countries. The U.N. superseded its predecessor, the League of Nations.

January 15, 1973 - Golda Meir became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit the Pope.

January 16, 1979 - The Shah of Iran departed his country amid mass demonstrations and the revolt of Islamic fundamentalists led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Shah had ruled Iran since 1941 and had unsuccessfully attempted to westernize its culture.Birthday - Common Sense author Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was born in Thetford, England. His pamphlet, published in 1776, provided inspiration to undecided Americans that a new nation, independent from Britain, might eventually become "...an asylum for mankind!" He served in the Continental Army and observed the hardships of American troops fighting the world's most powerful army. He then published The Crisis series pamphlets which began by stating, "These are the times that try men's souls." He refused to accept the profits from his writings and wound up destitute after the Revolution.

January 19, 1983 - Former Gestapo official Klaus Barbie, known as the "Butcher of Lyon," was arrested in Bolivia, South America. He was responsible for deporting Jewish children from Lyon to Auschwitz where they were gassed. He also murdered French Resistance leader Jean Moulin and tortured others. He was exposed by Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, extradited in 1987, then convicted by the French and died while in prison.

January 19, 1824 - Birthday - Confederate Army General "Stonewall" Jackson (1824-1863) was born in Clarksburg, Virginia (as Thomas Jonathan Jackson). He was a West Point graduate who served in the Mexican War then resigned to teach at the Virginia Military Institute. He sided with the South and became a Brigadier General, earning his nickname at the first battle of Bull Run as his troops held firm while others wavered. "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall," a fellow general commented. He was shot in 1863 by a Confederate lookout who had mistaken him in the dark. "I have lost my right arm," lamented General Lee upon his death.

January 20, 1981 - Ronald Reagan became president of the United States at the age of 69, the oldest president to take office. During his inauguration celebrations, he announced that 52 American hostages that had been seized in the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, were being released after 444 days in captivity.

January 21, 1954 - The USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear powered submarine, was launched at Groton, Connecticut.

January 24, 1965 - Winston Churchill (1874-1965) died. He had been Britain 's wartime prime minister whose courageous leadership and defiant rhetoric had fortified the British during their long struggle against Hitler's Germany. "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat," he stated upon becoming prime minister at the beginning of the war. He called Hitler's Reich a "monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime." Following the war, he coined the term "Iron Curtain" to describe the barrier between areas in Eastern Europe under Soviet Russia's control and the free West.

January 26, 1994 - Romania became the first former Cold War foe to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

January 28, 1986 - The U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 74 seconds into its flight, killing seven persons, including Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was to be the first ordinary citizen in space.

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