Today in History

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Today is Wednesday, Jan. 1, the first day of leap year 2020. There are 365 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states shall be “forever free.”

Email newsletter signup

On this date:

In 1785, The Daily Universal Register — which later became the Times of London — published its first issue.

In 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opened.

In 1953, country singer Hank Williams Sr., 29, was discovered dead in the back seat of his car during a stop in Oak Hill, West Virginia, while he was being driven to a concert date in Canton, Ohio.

In 1959, Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries overthrew Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, who fled to the Dominican Republic.

In 1975, a jury in Washington found Nixon administration officials John N. Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman, John D. Ehrlichman and Robert C. Mardian guilty of charges related to the Watergate cover-up (Mardian’s conviction for conspiracy was later overturned on appeal).

In 1979, the United States and China held celebrations in Washington and Beijing to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In 1984, the breakup of AT&T took place as the telecommunications giant was divested of its 22 Bell System companies under terms of an antitrust agreement.

In 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two new countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) came into being, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Sweden, Finland and Austria joined the European Union.

In 2005, desperate, homeless villagers on the tsunami-ravaged island of Sumatra mobbed American helicopters carrying aid as the U.S. military launched its largest operation in the region since the Vietnam War. Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, died near Daytona Beach, Florida, at age 80.

In 2009, an Israeli warplane dropped a 2,000-pound bomb on the home of one of Hamas’ top five decision-makers, instantly killing him and 18 others. The U.S. formally transferred control of the Green Zone to Iraqi authorities in a pair of ceremonies that also handed back Saddam Hussein’s former palace.

In 2014, the nation’s first legal recreational pot shops opened in Colorado at 8 a.m. Mountain time.

Ten years ago: A suicide bomber detonated a truckload of explosives on a volleyball field in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 97 people. Fifth-ranked Florida overwhelmed No. 4 Cincinnati 51-24 in the Sugar Bowl. In the Rose Bowl, No. 8 Ohio State defeated No. 7 Oregon 26-17.

Five years ago: Mario Cuomo, 82, a leading liberal voice who served three terms as governor of New York, died just hours after his son Andrew began his second term as the state’s chief executive. Actress Donna Douglas, who played the buxom tomboy Elly May Clampett on the hit 1960s sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” died in Baton Rouge, Louisana, at age 82.

One year ago: U.S. authorities fired tear gas across the border into Mexico during the early hours of the new year to repel about 150 migrants who tried to breach the border fence in Tijuana. Writing in the Washington Post, newly-elected Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said President Donald Trump’s conduct was evidence that Trump “has not risen to the mantle of the office.” Urban Meyer finished his coaching career at Ohio State with a 28-23 victory over Washington in the Rose Bowl. Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as Brazil’s president after rising to power on an anti-corruption and pro-gun agenda.

Today’s Birthdays: Documentary maker Frederick Wiseman is 90. Actor Frank Langella is 82. Rock singer-musician Country Joe McDonald is 78. Writer-comedian Don Novello is 77. Actor Rick Hurst is 74. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is 66. The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, is 64. Rapper Grandmaster Flash is 62. Actress Renn Woods is 62. Actress Dedee Pfeiffer is 56. Country singer Brian Flynn (Flynnville Train) is 54. Actor Morris Chestnut is 51. Rhythm and blues singer Tank is 44. Model Elin Nordegren is 40. Actor Jonas Armstrong is 39. Actress Eden Riegel is 39. Olympic gold medal ice dancer Meryl Davis is 33. Rock musician Noah Sierota (Echosmith) is 24.

Thought for Today: “If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.” — Cyril Cusack, Irish actor (1910-1993).