January 14


1514: Pope Leo X issued a papal bull against slavery.

1943: Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. President to travel by airplane while in office when he flew from Miami to Morocco to meet with Winston Churchill.

1952: NBC’s morning news program Today debuted with host Dave Garroway.

1954: The Hudson Motor Car Co. merged with Nash-Kelvinator, an automaker formed by the merger of the Nash automobile firm and the Kelvinator kitchen-appliance company. The new company was called American Motors Corporation. (It went out of business in 1987.)

1978: Kurt Gödel, the Austrian/American logician and mathematician, died of starvation when his wife was hospitalized. Gödel suffered from extreme paranoia and refused to eat food prepared by anyone else.


January 15

1895: Explosions at a burning hardware store in Butte, Mont., that sold dynamite to miners, killed every member of the Butte Fire Department except two, plus many policemen and bystanders. The death toll was estimated at 60. Officials were unable to get an exact number because so many bodies had been blown into small pieces.

1919: The Boston Molasses Disaster occurred when a gigantic cast-iron tank full of raw black molasses burst open in Boston, sending a wave of goo two stories high down Commercial Street, killing 21 people and injuring 150.

1929: Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta.

1967: The first Super Bowl game was played at the Los Angeles Coliseum between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs.


January 16


1581: The English Parliament outlawed Roman Catholicism.

1786: Virginia adopted the Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson, which ended compulsory church support and attendance, and discrimination based on religious affiliation.

2003: The Space Shuttle Columbia took off for mission STS-107, which would be its final one. (The craft disintegrated 16 days later during re-entry.)


January 17

1706: Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston.

1893: 19th U.S. President Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1877-1881) died in Fremont, Ohio, at age 70.

1961: In a nationally televised speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the American people for the last time as president. Expressing ideas that seem prophetic in retrospect, Eisenhower offered his fears and hopes for the future, warning against the unchecked growth of the “military-industrial complex,” a term he coined.

1964: First lady Michelle Obama was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson in Chicago.


January 18


1778: James Cook became the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, which he named the “Sandwich Islands.”

1862: John Tyler, 10th president, died in Richmond, Va. (He had just been elected to the Confederate Congress and was the only U.S. president to also serve in the Confederate government.)

1903: President Theodore Roosevelt sent a radio message to King Edward VII via the first transatlantic radio transmission originating in the United States.

1911: Eugene B. Ely landed on the deck of the USS Pennsylvania stationed in San Francisco Bay, the first time an aircraft landed on a ship.

1990: Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was arrested for drug possession in an FBI sting.

1993: Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed for the first time in all 50 states.

1997: Boerge Ousland of Norway became the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unaided.

2007: Keith Kallstrom, a Christian Identity pastor and avowed racist from Oklahoma, died of an apparent heart attack in a federal prison cell in Michigan. (Mourners at his funeral displayed an assortment of hate symbols including the Confederate flag, the KKK ‘red cross’ and the Nazi swastika.)


January 19

1915: In the first major aerial bombardment of a civilian target, German zeppelins bombed the towns of Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn in the United Kingdom, killing more thn 20.

1935: Coopers Inc. began selling the world’s first men’s briefs.

1953: A whopping 71.7 percent of all television sets in the United States tuned into I Love Lucy to watch Lucy give birth.

1977: Snow fell in Miami, Florida, for the first and only time in recorded history. It also snowed in the Bahamas.

1986: The first IBM PC computer virus was released into the wild. A boot sector virus dubbed ‘(c)Brain,’ it was created by the Farooq Alvi brothers in Lahore, Pakistan, reportedly to deter piracy of the software they had written.


January 20

1265: The first English parliament to include not only Lords but also representatives of the major towns held its first meeting in the Palace of Westminster, now commonly known as the Houses of Parliament.

1986: Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated as a federal holiday for the first time.

1991: Sudan’s government imposed Islamic sharia law nationwide, worsening the civil war between the country’s Muslim north and Christian south.

2006: A bottlenose whale was seen swimming in the River Thames for the first time since records began in 1913.

2007: A three-man team, using only skis and kites, completed a 1,093-mile trek to reach the southern pole of inaccessibility (the point in Antactica farthest from any ocean) for the first time since 1958, and for the first time ever without mechanical assistance.