628 – Chosroes II, emperor of Persia (579..628), murdered by his son.
742, Charlemagne, the first man to be crowned as Holy Roman Emperor, was born in Frankia (present-day France).
1513 – Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon sighted Florida and claimed it for the Spanish Crown after landing at the site of present-day St. Augustine, now the oldest city in the continental U.S.
1645 – English Long Parliament passes the Self-Denying Ordinance, limiting regional armies, significant step toward New Model Army
1783- American writer Washington Irving (1783-1859) was born in New York City. His works include; Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and historical biographies such as the Life of Washington.
1792 – Congress established the first U.S. Mint at Philadelphia.
1802 – American social reformer Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) was born in Hampden, Maine. She founded a home for girls in Boston while only in her teens and later crusaded for humane conditions in jails and insane asylums. During the American Civil War, she was superintendent of women nurses.
1805 – Fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was born in Odense, Denmark. He created 168 fairy tales for children including the classics The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen and The Nightingale.
1823 – Tammany Hall ‘Boss’ William M. Tweed (1823-1878) was born in New York City. From 1851 to 1871, his ‘Tweed Ring’ of political corruption looted millions from New York City, bringing the city to the verge of bankruptcy. Methods included padding city bills by 85 percent and writing checks to non-existent persons and companies. His power was broken after a series of critical editorial cartoons by Thomas Nast were published in Harper’s Weekly magazine. Tweed was arrested and convicted on charges of larceny and forgery. He died in prison.
1840 – French writer Emile Zola (1840-1902) was born in Paris. His works included a series of 20 books known as the Rougon-Macquart Novels in which he defined men and women as products of heredity and environment, portraying them as victims of their own passions and circumstances of birth. In his later years, he became involved in resolving the Dreyfus affair, a political-military scandal in which Captain Alfred Dreyfus had been wrongly accused of selling military secrets to the Germans was sent to Devil’s Island.
1860 – In the American West, the Pony Express service began as the first rider departed St. Joseph, Missouri. For $5 an ounce, letters were delivered 2,000 miles to California within ten days. The famed Pony Express riders each rode from 75 to 100 miles before handing the letters off to the next rider. A total of 190 way stations were located about 15 miles apart. The service lasted less than two years, ending upon the completion of the overland telegraph.
1863- A bread riot occurred in the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, as angry people demanded bread from a bakery wagon then wrecked nearby shops. The mob dispersed only after Confederate President Jefferson Davis made a personal plea and threatened to use force.
1865 – During the American Civil War, Confederate troops of General George Pickett were defeated and cut off at Five Forks, Virginia. This sealed the fate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s armies at Petersburg and Richmond and hastened the end of the war.
1865 – General Robert E. Lee informed Confederate President Jefferson Davis that he must evacuate the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. Davis and his cabinet then fled by train.
1865 – The Confederate capital of Richmond surrendered to Union forces after the withdrawal of General Robert E. Lee’s troops.
1884- Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (1884-1943) was born in Nagaoko, Honshu. He was the main strategist behind the failed Japanese attack on Midway Island in June of 1942, which turned the course of the war against Japan. He was killed on April 18, 1943, after Americans intercepted radio reports of his whereabouts and shot down his plane.
1887 – The first woman mayor was elected in the U.S. as Susanna M. Salter became mayor of Argonia, Kansas.
1922 – Josef Stalin is appointed General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party by an ailing Lenin.
1944 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 that African Americans can not be barred from voting in the Texas Democratic primaries. The Court stated that discrimination against blacks violates the 15th Amendment and that political parties are not private associations.
President Harry S. Truman signed the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan, intended to stop the spread of Communism and restore the economies of European countries devastated by World War II. Over four years, the program distributed $12 billion to the nations of Western Europe. The program was first proposed by Secretary of State George C. Marshall during a historic speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947.
1948 US President Harry Truman signs Marshall Plan ($5B aid to 16 European countries)
1949 – Twelve nations signed the treaty creating NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The nations united for common military defense against the threat of expansion by Soviet Russia into Western Europe.
1953 American magazine “TV Guide” publishes 1st issue, features on the cover the new born baby of actors Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz Jr.
1959, the Dalai Lama began living in exile in northern India after a dangerous two-week trek through the Himalayas. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was born in Taktser, China. The title of the Dalai Lama has historically been bestowed upon the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Dalai Lamas follow the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism (meaning “Yellow Hat”), which was founded centuries earlier in 1578. The title fuses the Mongolic word of “Dalai,” meaning big with the Tibetan word “bla-ma,” which translates to master. Gyatso was selected at the young age of five to become the next leader. His official enthronement ceremony was held in 1940. Less than ten years later, he assumed full religious and political control over Tibet.
1968 – Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee. As head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he had championed non-violent resistance to end racial oppression and had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He is best remembered for his I Have a Dream speech delivered at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. That march and King’s other efforts helped the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1986, Congress established the third Monday in January as a national holiday in his honor.
1973 1st mobile phone call is made in downtown Manhattan, NYC by Motorola employee Martin Cooper to the Bell Labs headquarters in New Jersey.
1975 Bobby Fischer stripped of world chess title for refusing to defend it.
1982 – The beginning of the Falkland Islands War as troops from Argentina invaded and occupied the British colony located near the tip of South America. The British retaliated and defeated the Argentineans on June 15, 1982, after ten weeks of combat, with about 1,000 lives lost.
1995 – Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to preside over the Court, sitting in for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist who was out of town.
1998 – A federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas, dismissed a sexual harassment case against President Bill Clinton, stating the case had no “genuine issues” worthy of trial. Although President Clinton had denied any wrongdoing, a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 1997 allowed the case to proceed, thereby establishing a precedent allowing sitting presidents to be sued for personal conduct that allegedly occurred before taking office.
2016 Panama Papers published – 11.5 million confidential documents from offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca expose widespread illegal activities including fraud, kleptocracy, tax evasion and the violation of international sanctions by the world’s elite in the world’s largest ever data leak.