45 BC: The Julian calendar took effect as the civil calendar of the Roman Empire, establishing January 1 as the new first day of the new year.
1502: The present-day location of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was first explored by the Portuguese.
1600: Scotland began its numbered year on January 1 instead of March 25.
1772: The first traveler’s checks, which could be used in 90 European cities, went on sale in London, England.
1773: The hymn that became known as “Amazing Grace,” then titled “1 Chronicles 17:16-17,” was first used to accompany a sermon led by John Newton in the town of Olney, England.
1788: The first edition of The Times of London was published.
1801: The first public hand-shaking reception was held in the White House by first lady Abigail Adams. The event was attended by 135 people.
1804: French rule ended in Haiti, and Haiti became the first black republic and second independent country in North America, after the United States
1824: Sarah Childress married James Knox Polk, who would become the 11th president (1845-1849).
1843: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe was first published in the Boston Pioneer.
1860: The first Polish postage stamp was issued.
1873: Japan began using the Gregorian calendar.
1890: The Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., was held for the first time.
1895: J. Edgar Hoover, first director of the FBI, was born in Washington, D.C.
1898: New York, New York, annexed land from surrounding counties, creating the City of Greater New York. The four initial boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx, were joined on Jan. 25 by Staten Island to create the modern city of five boroughs.
1902: The first American college football bowl game, the Rose Bowl between Michigan and Stanford, was held in Pasadena, Calif.
1908: A ball was dropped for the first time in New York City’s Times Square to signify the start of the New Year at midnight.
1919: Born this day: boxer Rocky Graziano (died 1990); actress Carole Landis (One Million B.C., died 1948); author J. D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye, died 2010)
1927: Turkey adopted the Gregorian calendar, and Dec. 18, 1926 (Julian), was immediately followed by Jan. 1, 1927 (Gregorian).
1930: First lady Lou Hoover and her husband, President Herbert Hoover, held the last public New Year’s Day hand-shaking reception at the White House. Thousands of people attended the final event, which began in 1801.
1934: The U.S. federal prison at Alcatraz Island received its first inmates.
1947: The Canadian Citizenship Act 1946 took effect, converting British subjects into Canadian citizens. (Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King became the first Canadian citizen.)
1954: NBC made the first coast-to-coast color broadcast when it telecast the Tournament of Roses Parade from Pasadena, Calif.
1962: The U.S. Navy SEALs were established.
1971: Cigarette advertisements were banned on U.S. television.
1979: Formal diplomatic relations were established between the United States and China.
1983: The ARPANET officially changed to using the internet protocol, creating the internet.
1985: The internet’s Domain Name System was created. The first British mobile phone call was made by Ernie Wise (1922-1999) to Vodafone.
1988: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America came into existence, creating the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States.
1990: David Dinkins (born 1927) was sworn in as New York City’s first black mayor.
1993: Czechoslovakia ceased to exist and was divided into Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
533: Mercurius becomes Pope John II, the first pope to adopt a new name upon ascending to the papacy.
1789: Georgia ratified the U.S. Constitution.
1900: The United States began trading with China.
1974: President Richard Nixon signed a bill lowering the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 mph to conserve gasoline during an OPEC embargo.
1496: Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tested a flying machine.
1957: The Hamilton Watch Co. introduced the first electric wristwatch.
1959: Alaska became the 49th U.S. state.
1962: Pope John XXIII excommunicated Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
1983: Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began erupting continuously and has not stopped to date.
2000: The last original daily Peanuts comic strip was published.
1998: A massive ice storm hit eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It continued through Jan. 10 and caused widespread destruction.
1999: Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was sworn in as governor of Minnesota. Iron Eyes Cody, a U.S. actor who portrayed Native Americans in movies and TV from the 1930s to the 1970s, died in Hollywood at age 94. (Three years earlier, The New Orleans Times-Picayune had reported that his parents were immigrants from Sicily and that he had no Native American ancestry.)
1889: The term “Hamburger steak” first appeared in the Walla Walla Union newspaper in Walla Walla, Wash.
1914: The Ford Motor Company announced an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage of $5 for a day’s labor.
1933: John Calvin Coolidge (30th U.S. president, 1923-1929) died in Northampton, Mass, at age 60.
1940: FM radio was demonstrated to the Federal Communications Commission for the first time.
1972: President Richard Nixon ordered the development of the space shuttle program.
1974: The warmest reliably measured temperature in Antarctica, 59 degrees Fahrenheit, was recorded at Vanda Station.
1919: Theodore Roosevelt (26th U.S. president, 1901-1909) died at Oyster Bay, N.Y., at age 60.
1969: Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter (later president, 1976-1980) and 20 other people saw an unidentified flying object that hovered for 10 minutes over Leary, Georgia. Gov. Carter filed a detailed report of the sighting with the National Investigations Committee of Aerial Phenomena.
1800: 13th President Millard Fillmore was born in Cayuga County, New York. (Died 1874.)
1982: Faced with the rising price of copper, the U.S. Mint began issuing pennies made of copper-plated zinc.
1989: Japanese Emporer Hirohito died in Tokyo at age 87.
1782: The first American commercial bank, the Bank of North America, opened in Philadelphia.
1797: The modern flag of Italy was flown for the first time, in Rome.
1927: The first transatlantic telephone service was established, between New York City and London, England.
1948: Kentucky Air National Guard pilot Thomas Mantell crashed while in pursuit of a purported UFO.
1980: U.S. President Jimmy Carter authorized legislation giving $1.5 billion in loans to bail out the Chrysler Corporation.