661 – Ali ibn Abu Talib, caliph of Islam (656-61), was murdered. Caliph Ali, son-in-law of Mohammed, was assassinated and his followers (Shiites) broke from the majority Muslim group.
1639 – Representatives from three Connecticut towns banded together to write the Fundamental Orders, the first constitution in the New World. [see Jan 14]
1712 – Frederick II (d.1786), Frederick the Great, the Hohenzollern King of Prussia (1740-1786), was born. He was noted for his social reforms and leading Prussia in military victories. Among his military innovations was the professional General Staff. A model that would be adopted by all modern militaries.
1732 – Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais, French dramatist, was born. He was best remembered for his plays “Barber of Civil” and “Marriage of Figaro.” He was a conduit for French gold and arms to American Revolution, persecuted by mob during French Rev. “It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them.”
1776 – Colonel Henry Knox arrives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with the 43 British Cannon and 16 mortars captured by Ethan Allen at Fort Ticonderoga. These artillery have been transported cross-country through the wilderness.
1826 – The US signs the Treaty or Washington with the Creek Tribe, granting them the right to stay on their lands for two years.
1847 – 1,500 New Mexican Indians and Mexicans were defeated by US Col. Price.
1848 – A millwright named James Marshall discovers gold along the banks of Sutter’s Creek in California, forever changing the course of history in the American West. A tributary to the South Fork of the American River in the Sacramento Valley east of San Francisco, Sutter’s Creek was named for a Swiss immigrant who came to Mexican California in 1839. John Augustus Sutter became a citizen of Mexico and won a grant of nearly 50,000 acres in the lush Sacramento Valley, where he hoped to create a thriving colony. He built a sturdy fort that became the center of his first town, New Helvetia, and purchased farming implements, livestock, and a cannon to defend his tiny empire. Copying the methods of the Spanish missions, Sutter induced the local Indians to do all the work on his farms and ranches, often treating them as little more than slaves. Workers who dared leave his empire without permission were often brought back by armed posses to face brutal whippings or even execution. In the 1840s, Sutter’s Fort became the first stopping-off point for overland Anglo-American emigrants coming to California to build farms and ranches. Though sworn to protect the Mexican province from falling under the control of the growing number of Americans, Sutter recognized that his future wealth and influence lay with these Anglo settlers. With the outbreak of the Mexican War in 1846, he threw his support to the Americans, who emerged victorious in the fall of 1847. With the war over and California securely in the hands of the United States, Sutter hired the millwright James Marshall to build a sawmill along the South Fork of the American River in January 1848. In order to redirect the flow of water to the mill’s waterwheel, Marshall supervised the excavation of a shallow millrace. On the morning of January 24, 1848, Marshall was looking over the freshly cut millrace when a sparkle of light in the dark earth caught his eye. Looking more closely, Marshall found that much of the millrace was speckled with what appeared to be small flakes of gold, and he rushed to tell Sutter. After an assayer confirmed that the flakes were indeed gold, Sutter quietly set about gathering up as much of the gold as he could, hoping to keep the discovery a secret. However, word soon leaked out and, within months, the largest gold rush in the world had begun. Ironically, the California gold rush was a disaster for Sutter. Though it brought thousands of men to California, the prospectors had no interest in joining Sutter’s despotic agricultural community. Instead, they overran Sutter’s property, slaughtered his herds for food, and trampled his fields. By 1852, New Helvetia was ruined, and Sutter was nearly wiped out. Until his death in 1880, he spent his time unsuccessfully petitioning the government to compensate him for the losses he suffered as a result of the gold rush he unintentionally ignited.
1861 – Georgia troops seize the Federal arsenal in Augusta. The U. S. Arsenal on Walton Way is the only United States arsenal in the south, east of the Mississippi. In 1819 the 1st U.S. arsenal at Augusta was completed on the Savannah River near the present location at the King and Sibley mills. After a black fever epidemic it was moved to more healthy quarters on a 70-acre tract costing $ 6,000.00 on the sand hills, where the buildings were erected. Five days after the secession of Georgia from the union in 1861, the arsenal was surrendered to Georgia troops with a mere exchange of formal diplomacy between Captain Arnold Elzey who represented the United States and Colonel W. T. H. Walker who represented Governor Brown of Georgia. After the formalities the two men met at the mess hall for a convivial evening.
1865 – The Confederate Congress agrees to continue prisoner exchanges, opening a process that had operated only sporadically for three years. In the first year of the war, prisoner exchanges were conducted primarily between field generals on an ad hoc basis. The Union was reluctant to enter any formal agreements, fearing that it would legitimize the Confederate government. But the issue became more important as the campaigns escalated in 1862. On July 2, 1862, Union General John Dix and Confederate General Daniel H. Hill reached an agreement. Under the Dix-Hill cartel, each soldier was assigned a value according to rank. For example, privates were worth another private, corporals and sergeants were worth two privates, lieutenants were worth three privates, etc. A commanding general was worth 60 privates. Under this system, thousands of soldiers were exchanged rather than languishing in prisons like those in Andersonville, Georgia, or Elmira, New York. The system was really a gentlemen’s agreement, relying on the trust of each side. The system broke down in 1862 when Confederates refused to exchange black Union soldiers. From 1862 to 1865, prisoner exchanges were rare. When they did happen, it was usually because two local commanders came to a workable agreement. The result of the breakdown was the swelling of prisoner-of-war camps in both North and South. The most notorious of all the camps was Andersonville, where one-third of the 46,000 Union troops incarcerated died of disease, exposure, or starvation. Though the prisoner exchanges resumed, the end of the war was so close that it did not make much difference.
1895 – Hawaii’s Queen Lili’uokalani formally abdicated her throne and swore allegiance to the Republic of Hawaii.
1903 – U.S. Secretary of State John Hay and British Ambassador Herbert created a joint commission to establish the Alaskan border.
1907 – In Ormond Beach, Florida, Glenn Curtiss, an engineer who got his start building motors for bicycles, set an unofficial land-speed record on a self-built V-8 motorcycle on this day: 136.29mph. No automobile surpassed that speed until 1911. In 1907, four years after the Wilbur and Orville Wright accomplished the first successful airplane at Kitty Hawk, Curtiss established the Curtiss Aeroplane Company, the first airplane manufacturing company in the United States. In the next year, the “June Bug,” an aircraft powered by a Curtiss engine, won the Scientific American Trophy for the first flight in the U.S. covering one kilometer. In 1909, Curtiss, piloting his own planes, won major flying events in Europe and America. Over the next five years, Curtiss continued to be an innovator in airplane design, and in January of 1911, built and demonstrated the world’s first seaplane for the U.S. Navy.
1908 – Boy Scouts movement begins in England with the publication of the first installment of Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys. The name Baden-Powell was already well known to many English boys, and thousands of them eagerly bought up the handbook. By the end of April, the serialization of Scouting for Boys was completed, and scores of impromptu Boy Scout troops had sprung up across Britain. In 1900, Baden-Powell became a national hero in Britain for his 217-day defense of Mafeking in the South African War. Soon after, Aids to Scouting, a military field manual he had written for British soldiers in 1899, caught on with a younger audience. Boys loved the lessons on tracking and observation and organized elaborate games using the book. Hearing this, Baden-Powell decided to write a nonmilitary field manual for adolescents that would also emphasize the importance of morality and good deeds. First, however, he decided to try out some of his ideas on an actual group of boys. On July 25, 1907, he took a diverse group of 21 adolescents to Brownsea Island in Dorsetshire where they set up camp for a fortnight. With the aid of other instructors, he taught the boys about camping, observation, deduction, woodcraft, boating, lifesaving, patriotism, and chivalry. Many of these lessons were learned through inventive games that were very popular with the boys. The first Boy Scouts meeting was a great success. With the success of Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell set up a central Boy Scouts office, which registered new Scouts and designed a uniform. By the end of 1908, there were 60,000 Boy Scouts, and troops began springing up in British Commonwealth countries across the globe. In September 1909, the first national Boy Scout meeting was held at the Crystal Palace in London. Ten thousand Scouts showed up, including a group of uniformed girls who called themselves the Girl Scouts. In 1910, Baden-Powell organized the Girl Guides as a separate organization. The American version of the Boy Scouts has it origins in an event that occurred in London in 1909. Chicago publisher William Boyce was lost in one of the city’s classic fogs when a Boy Scout came to his aid. After guiding Boyce to his destination, the boy refused a tip, explaining that as a Boy Scout he would not accept payment for doing a good deed. This anonymous gesture inspired Boyce to organize several regional U.S. youth organizations, specifically the Woodcraft Indians and the Sons of Daniel Boone, into the Boy Scouts of America. Incorporated on February 8, 1910, the movement soon spread throughout the country. In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of America in Savannah, Georgia. In 1916, Baden-Powell organized the Wolf Cubs, which caught on as the Cub Scouts in the United States, for boys under the age of 11. Four years later, the first international Boy Scout Jamboree was held in London, and Baden-Powell was acclaimed Chief Scout of the world. He died in 1941.
1911 – U.S. Cavalry was sent to preserve the neutrality of the Rio Grande during the Mexican Civil War.
1916 – Although the Constitution explicitly forbade direct taxation of citizens, the United States flirted with the notion of an income tax during the latter half of the nineteenth century. In fact, the government briefly instituted a tax during the Civil War. This tax was repealed in 1872, but legislators, casting about for ways to raise federal funds, continued to push for an income tax. Congress gave the green light to a income tax bill in 1894, only to watch as the Supreme Court deemed the tax unconstitutional on the grounds that it failed to raise revenues that were commensurate with the various populations of America’s states. Undeterred, Congress passed the Sixteenth Amendment in 1909 that, after state ratification in 1913, effectively granted the federal government constitutional authority to levy an income tax. Again, the legislation was taken before the Supreme Court for review. On January 24, 1916, the Court handed down a decision that no doubt still causes some Americans deep anguish, ruling in favor of the amendment and paving the way for the federal income tax.
1933 – The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, changing the beginning and end of terms for all elected federal offices.
1936 – Congress passes the Adjusted Compensation Act by overriding President Roosevelt’s veto. The bill allows for immediate cash redemption of the bonus certificates held by veterans of World War I.
1942 – A special court of inquiry into America’s lack of preparedness for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor placed much of the blame on Rear Adm. Husband E. Kimmel and Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short, the Navy and Army commanders.
1942 – Battle of Makassar Strait, destroyer attack on Japanese convoy in first surface action in the Pacific during World War II. Four Dutch and American destroyers attack Japanese troop transports off Balikpapan sinking five ships.
1942 – In the Philippines, American forces begin withdrawals to their second line of defense.
1943 – President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill concluded a wartime conference in Casablanca, Morocco. The Allied differences have been resolved by the Chiefs of Staff. The war against the U-boats and supplies for the USSR are to have priority. Preparations for a landing in western Europe are to proceed. Offensive operations in the Pacific are also to continue as is the campaign in Tunisia and North Africa. The forces in North Africa will proceed to Sicily and Italy following the completion of the North African campaign. At a press conference, Roosevelt states that the Allies are seeking the “unconditional surrender” of Germany, Italy and Japan. Churchill endorses this position.
1943 – A US naval task force attacks Kolombangara Island in the New Georgia group of islands. On Guadalcanal, American forces push west of Kokumbona.
1944 – The Anzio beachhead continues to expand, albeit, slowly. To the south, along the German defenses of the Gustav Line, the Free French Corps (part of US 5th Army) attacks Monte Santa Croce. The US 2nd Corps (also part of 5th Army) continues attacking over the Rapido River, toward Caira.
1945 – In the Ardennes there are Allied advances north and south of St. Vith. US 3rd Army reaches the Clerf River. The British 2nd Army enters Heinsberg, about 3 miles west of the Roer River.
1945 – Calapan is taken by the US forces on Mindoro. Japanese resistance on the island has been reduced to isolated pockets. Cabanatuan is taken by the US forces on Luzon.
1945 – The US 14th Air Force has to abandon Suichuan airfield, in China, because of Japanese advances nearby.1946 – The UN established the International Atomic Energy Commission.
1951 – General Matthew B. Ridgway and Major General Earl E. Partridge personally reconnoitered the front lines in a T-6 Texan aircraft prior to the Jan. 25 dawn attack on communist Chinese forces, Operation THUNDERBOLT.
1952 – The U.S. 24th Infantry Division announced the first use in Korea of scout dogs.
1952 – Air Force Captains Dolphin D. Overton III and Harold E. Fischer Jr., both of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, became the 24th and 25th fifth aces of the war. They flew F-86’s named “Dolph’s Devil” and “Paper Tiger.” In addition, Captain Overton set a record for becoming a jet ace in the shortest time of four days.
1958 – After warming to 100,000,000 degrees, 2 light atoms were bashed together to create a heavier atom, resulting in the 1st man-made nuclear fusion.
1966 – In the largest search-and-destroy operation to date–Operation Masher/White Wing/Thang Phong II–the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), South Vietnamese, and Korean forces ssweep through Binh Dinh Province in the central lowlands along the coast. The purpose of the operation was to drive the North Vietnamese out of the province and destroy enemy supply areas. In late January, it became the first large unit operation conducted across corps boundaries when the cavalrymen linked up with Double Eagle, a U.S. Marine Corps operation intended to destroy the North Vietnamese 325A Division. Altogether, there were reported enemy casualties of 2,389 by the time the operation ended.
1966 – Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, in a memorandum to President Johnson, recommends raising the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam to more than 400,000 by the end of the year. However, he warned that planned deployments and increased bombing would not ensure military success. Ultimately, McNamara was correct and the war raged on even as total U.S. troop strength in country went over 500,000 soldiers in 1969.
1972 – After 28 years of hiding in the jungles of Guam, local farmers discover Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese sergeant who was unaware that World War II had ended. Guam, a 200-square-mile island in the western Pacific, became a U.S. possession in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. In 1941, the Japanese attacked and captured it, and in 1944, after three years of Japanese occupation, U.S. forces retook Guam. It was at this time that Yokoi, left behind by the retreating Japanese forces, went into hiding rather than surrender to the Americans. In the jungles of Guam, he carved survival tools and for the next three decades waited for the return of the Japanese and his next orders. After he was discovered in 1972, he was finally discharged and sent home to Japan, where he was hailed as a national hero. He subsequently married and returned to Guam for his honeymoon. His handcrafted survival tools and threadbare uniform are on display in the Guam Museum in Agana.
1973 – National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger announces that a truce is also expected in Laos and Cambodia. Kissinger had been meeting privately with Le Duc Tho and other North Vietnamese and Viet Cong representatives in Paris since early January. They had worked out a peace agreement that was initialled in Paris on January 23 “to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.” Under the provisions of the agreement, a cease-fire would begin in Vietnam at 8 a.m., January 28, Saigon time (7 p.m., January 27, Eastern Standard Time). Kissinger said that the terms of the agreement would be extended to Cambodia and Laos, where government troops had been locked in deadly combat with the local communist forces (Khmer Rouge and Pathet Lao, respectively) and their North Vietnamese allies.
1975 – A Puerto Rican terrorist group detonates a bomb at Fraunces Tavern in New York City, killing four people.
1980 – In an action obviously designed as another in a series of very strong reactions to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. officials announce that America is ready to sell military equipment (excluding weapons) to communist China. The surprise statement was part of the U.S. effort to build a closer relationship with the People’s Republic of China for use as leverage against possible Soviet aggression. The announcement concerning military equipment sales was one of many actions on the U.S-China front taken in the wake of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in December 1979. The U.S. Congress, on the same day, approved most-favored-nation trading status for China. In addition, an agreement was signed for the construction of a station in China that would be able to receive information from an American satellite; such information would aid China in such fields as agriculture and mining. The proposed sale of military equipment, however, was the most dramatic and controversial move made by the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Though such equipment would be limited to non-weapon materiel related to such areas as transportation and communications, the step was a significant one in terms of the developing U.S.-China relationship. The fact that the announcement occurred so soon after the Soviet action in Afghanistan was no coincidence–as one U.S. official noted, that action “sped up or catalyzed the process.” The Carter administration’s decision to sell military equipment to communist China barely a year after establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China was an indication of just how seriously the United States government viewed the Soviet attack on Afghanistan. The U.S. response to the Soviet Union was multi-faceted and vigorous, including diplomatic broadsides, economic sanctions, and even boycotting the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow. Many political analysts believed that the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan was a grievous diplomatic error, as it virtually ended any talk of detente with the United States.
1982 – A draft of Air Force history reported that the U.S. secretly sprayed herbicides on Laos during the Vietnam War.
1986 – The Voyager 2 space probe swept past Uranus, coming within 50,679 miles of the seventh planet of the solar system. Uranus has puzzled scientists ever since the probe Voyager 2 did the flyby and found that its magnetic field appeared to break the planetary rulebook. In 2004 scientists noted that Neptune and Uranus have an interior structure that is different from those of Jupiter and Saturn.
1991 – A brief skirmish occurred high above the Persian Gulf as a Saudi warplane shot down two Iraqi jets.
1991 – Helos from USS Leftwich and USS Nicholas recapture first Kuwaiti territory from Iraqis.
1996 – Specialist Michael New was discharged from the US Army after a court-martial jury convicted him for disobeying lawful orders. He refused to wear a UN beret for a peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia.
1999 – US jets attacked 2 Iraqi surface-to-air missile batteries after encountering radar detection in the northern no-fly zone.
2000 – Stanislav Lunev, a former Soviet spy, testified at a congressional hearing that Soviet operatives had placed weapons and communications caches in California and other states during and after the Cold War to destabilize the US in the event of war.
2002 – The US imposed sanctions on 3 Chinese entities accused of giving chemical and biological arms technology to Iran.
2002 – John Walker Lindh transported to Alexandria, Virginia, to be tried in a civilian criminal court for conspiring to kill Americans. He makes his first appearance before a U.S. District Court. A criminal complaint lists four charges, including conspiracy to kill his fellow Americans in Afghanistan..
2003 – The US Department of Homeland Security under Tom Ridge became the government’s 15th Cabinet department.
2003 – The United States adds 20,000 reservists to those already on active duty.
2003 – American warplanes bombed an Iraqi air defense site, the 12th strike in the southern flight interdiction zone this month.
2003 – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and Turkey meet in Istanbul in a diplomatic effort to avert a war in Iraq. They urge Iraq to “demonstrate a more active approach” in providing information on its weapons programs.
2003 – In Spain police arrested 16 suspected al-Qaida terrorists.
2004 – A 2nd NASA rover was set to land on Mars.
2005 – Authorities in Iraq said Sami Mohammed Ali Said al-Jaaf, an al-Qaeda lieutenant in custody, had confessed to masterminding most of the car bombings in Baghdad.
2010 – Afghanistan postpones its upcoming parliamentary elections to 18 September due to lack of funds and security concerns.
2013 – David Headley, an American terrorist of Pakistani origin, and a spy who conspired with the Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamist organization and Pakistani intelligence officers in plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks, is sentenced to 35 years in prison for his role in the 2008 attacks.
2013 – North Korea authorities announce a new nuclear weapon and long range missile test, threatening the United States, as their primary target.
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