History of the Month – January

Michelle Nguyen, Reporter

January 1st: 1892 Ellis Island opens as a US immigration inspection station – it would go on to be the gateway to the US for more than 12 million people.

January 2nd: 1800 Free African American community of Philadelphia petitions US Congress to abolish the slave trade.

January 3rd: 1496 Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tests a flying machine.

January 4th: 1754 Columbia University founded as King’s College (NYC).

January 5th: 1709 The Great Frost begins during the night, a sudden cold snap that remains Europe’s coldest ever winter. Thousands are killed across the continent and crops fail in France.

January 6th: 1639 Virginia ordered half of its tobacco crop destroyed to support plunging prices and to avoid an economic catastrophe, the 1st colony ordered the destruction of crops.

January 7th: 1610 Galileo Galilei discovered the first three moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa & Ganymede.

January 8th: 1656 Oldest surviving commercial newspaper is founded (Haarlem, Netherlands).

January 9th: 1788 Connecticut becomes 5th state to ratify the US Constitution.

January 10th: 1840 Uniform Penny Post mail system starts throughout the United Kingdom an idea championed by Rowland Hill to increase the volume of mail and its availability to poorer classes. 

January 11th: 1569 First recorded lottery in England is drawn in St Paul’s Cathedral in London. First prize was £5,000, other prizes included silver plate, tapestries and high quality linen cloth.

January 12th: 1773 First public museum established in North American colonies (Charlestown, SC). 

January 13th: 2000 Microsoft chairman Bill Gates steps aside as chief executive and promotes company president Steve Ballmer to the position.

January 14th: 1943 In World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt travels from Miami to Morocco to meet with Winston Churchill, becoming the first American president to travel overseas by airplane.

January  15th: 1943 The world’s largest office building, the Pentagon is completed to house the US military.

January 16th: 1547 Ivan IV the Terrible (17) crowns himself first tsar of Moscow.

January 17th: 1773 Captain James Cook becomes 1st to cross the Antarctic Circle.

January 18th: 1943 Soviets announce they have broken the long Siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany by opening a narrow land corridor, though the siege would not be fully lifted until a year later. 

January 19th: 1785 First manned balloon flight in Ireland. 

January 20th: 2009 Barack Obama, inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America, becomes the United States’ first African-American president.

January 21st: 1789 First American novel, WH Brown’s “Power of Sympathy” is published.

January 22nd: 1472 Great comet of 1472 (C/1471 Y1) becomes the closest comet in modern times, coming within 10 million kilometers of Earth.

January 23rd: 1779 Charles Messier catalogs M56 (globular cluster in Lyra). 

January 24th: 1656 First Jewish doctor in North American colonies, Jacob Lumbrozo, arrives in Maryland.

January 25th: 1924 First Winter Olympic Games open in Chamonix, France.

January 26th: 1531 Lisbon hit by Earthquake; about 30,000 casualties. 

January 27th: 1888 The National Geographic Society was founded in Washington, D.C. for “the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge”.

January 28th: 1393 Fire during Royal Ball in Paris, 4 die (Ball of the Ardents).

January 29th: 1594 Mathematician John Napier dedicates his “Plaine Discovery of the Whole Revelation of St. John” to King James VI, predicting the end of the world in 1688 or 1700.

January 30th: 1164 English King Henry II passes the Constitutions of Clarendon, attempting to restrict power of the papal clergy in England – only Thomas Becket objects, the beginning of their quarrel.

January 31st: 1865 Congress passes, by vote of 121-24, the 13th Amendment of US Constitution, abolishing slavery in the US.