History: January 26

January 26

1500 Brazil is discovered by Spanish navigator Vicente Yanes Pinzon.

1784 Ben Franklin writes to his daughter: "...For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk; and, when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him, and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case; but, like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America, who have driven all the kingbirds from our country; though exactly fit for that order of knights, which the French call Chevaliers d'Industrie. I am, on this account, not displeased that the figure is not known as a bald eagle, but looks more like a turkey.

For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours; the first of the species seen in Europe, being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and served up at the wedding table of Charles the Ninth. He is, besides, (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that,) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on. I shall not enter into the criticisms made upon their..."

1788 The first settlers from England, including a group of convicts, arrive in Sydney, Australia, at Sydney Cove.

1802 The Cisalpine Republic is renamed the Italian Republic with Napoleon Bonaparte as president.

1814 The ice thaw, ending London's last Frost Fair on the frozen Thames.

1826 Birth: Julia Boggs Dent Grant, wife of 18th President Ulysses S. Grant. "Quite naturally, shy young Lieutenant Grant lost his heart to friendly Julia; and made his love known, as he said himself years later, "in the most awkward manner imaginable." She told her side of the story--her father opposed the match, saying, "the boy is too poor," and she answered angrily that she was poor herself. The "poverty" on her part came from a slave-owner's lack of ready cash. Daughter of Frederick and Ellen Wrenshall Dent, Julia had grown up on a plantation near St. Louis in a typically Southern atmosphere. In memoirs prepared late in life--unpublished until 1975--she pictured her girlhood as an idyll: "one long summer of sunshine, flowers, and smiles..." She attended the Misses Mauros' boarding school in St. Louis for seven years among the daughters of other affluent parents. A social favorite in that circle, she met "Ulys" at her home, where her family welcomed him as a West Point classmate of her brother Frederick; soon she felt lonely without him, dreamed of him, and agreed to wear his West Point ring. Julia and her handsome lieutenant became engaged in 1844, but the Mexican War deferred the wedding for four long years. Their marriage, often tried by adversity, met every test; they gave each other a life-long loyalty. Like other army wives,"dearest Julia" accompanied her husband to military posts, to pass uneventful days at distant garrisons. Then she returned to his parents' home in 1852 when he was ordered to the West. Ending that separation, Grant resigned his commission two years later. Farming and business ventures at St. Louis failed, and in 1860 he took his family--four children now--back to his home in Galena, Illinois. He was working in his father's leather goods store when the Civil War called him to a soldier's duty with his state's volunteers. Throughout the war, Julia joined her husband near the scene of action whenever she could..."

1827 Peru ends its union with Colombia and declares independence.

1837 32 years and 15 days after Michigan was organized as a territory, it becomes the 26th state of the United States of America. Named Michigan after the American Indian word, Michigama, meaning great or large lake, Michigan borders four of the Great Lakes, and is divided into two peninsulas by the Straits of Mackinac that connect Lakes Michigan and Huron. The two peninsulas are recognized in the state motto: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you.

In Latin: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice. Michigan is nicknamed the Wolverine State (although wolverines are very rare there) and/or the Great Lake State (its shores touch four of the five Great Lakes). The state bird is the robin; the state flower: apple blossom; state tree: white pine; state fish: trout; state gem: Isle Royal Greenstone aka Chlorastrolite. This gemstone wasn't enough for Michigan. It had to have a real stone, too ... the Petoskey stone. The state flag, which is blue charged with the arms of the state, waves over the state capital of Lansing. (Bradley)

1838 The first Prohibition law in the history of the United States is passed in Tennessee, making it a misdemeanor to sell alcoholic beverages in taverns and stores. The bill states that all persons convicted of retailing 'spirituous liquors' will be fined at the 'discretion of the court' and that the fines will be used in support of public schools. The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, several states and dozens of cities had enacted prohibition laws, and temperance groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for total national abstinence. In December 1917, Congress will pass the 18th Amendment, commonly known as the Prohibition Amendment. It will take effect in January 1919, following state ratification. Despite an often-vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, the federal government will ultimately fail to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime will flourish in America during the 1920s as a direct consequence. In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution will be passed and ratified, repealing Prohibition. (Bradley)

1841 The British flag is raised on Hong Kong Island, six days after China had agreed to cede it to Britain.

1875 George F. Green of Kalamazoo, Michigan patents the electric dental drill for the sawing, filing, dressing and polishing of teeth.

1880 Birth: Douglas MacArthur, US Army General and Commander of Allied Forces, WW2.

1885 Khartoum, in the Sudan, falls to the forces Mahdi as General Gordon, British commander and Governor of the Sudan, is killed.

1905 The world's largest diamond, the Cullinan, is discovered near Pretoria, weighing 3,106 carats.

1918 Birth: Philip Jose Farmer, novelist.

1926 Weimar: Gregor Strasser calls a meeting of Nazi party leaders at Hanover.

1929 Birth: Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist; scriptwriter, Carnal Knowledge, Little Murders, Popeye; author, The Great Comic Book Heroes.

1931 Mahatma Gandhi is released from prison to hold talks with the government during his civil disobedience campaign.

1934 Do the Math: Hitler's Germany signs a 10-year nonaggression pact with Poland.

1934 The Zurich Church Council condemns The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

1936 Spanish Civil War: Franco and his forces capture Barcelona.

1942 WW2: The Board of Inquiry investigating the Pearl Harbor attack finds Admiral Husband E. Kimmel (Commander-in-Chief of the US Fleet) and General Short (Commander-in-Chief Hawaiian Department) guilty of dereliction of duty. Both have already been dismissed.

1942 Holocaust: Himmler notifies Richard Glücks, inspector of the concentration camps, that the camps are now to take on great economic tasks; he should expect to receive a hundred thousand male Jews and fifty-thousand female Jews in the next four weeks to use as laborers. (Architect)

1944 Holocaust: Himmler makes an address to more than 260 high-ranking army and navy officers in Posen. "...I want to also mention a very difficult subject ... before you, with complete candor. It should be discussed amongst us, yet nevertheless, we will never speak about it in public. Just as we did not hesitate on June 30 to carry out our duty as ordered, and stand comrades who had failed against the wall and shoot them -- about which we have never spoken, and never will speak. That was, thank God, a kind of tact natural to us, a foregone conclusion of that tact, that we have never conversed about it amongst ourselves, never spoken about it, everyone ... shuddered, and everyone was clear that the next time, he would do the same thing again, if it were commanded and necessary. I am talking about the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. It is one of those things that is easily said. "The Jewish people is being exterminated." every Party member will tell you, "perfectly clear, it's part of our plans, we're eliminating the Jews, exterminating them, a small matter." And then along they all come, all the 80 million upright Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. They say: "all the others are swine, but here is a first-class Jew." And ... none of them has seen it, has enduredit. Most of you will know what it means when 100 bodies lie together, when 500 are there or when there are 1000. And ... to have seen this through and -- with the exception of human weakness -- to have remained decent, has made us hard and is a page of glory never mentioned and never to be mentioned. Because we know how difficult things would be, if today in every city during the bomb attacks, the burdens of war and the privations, we still had Jews as secret saboteurs, agitators and instigators. We would probably be at the same stage as 16/17, if the Jews still resided in the body of the German people. We have taken away the riches that they had, and ... I have given a strict order, which Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl has carried out, we have delivered these riches to the Reich, to the State. We have taken nothing from them for ourselves. A few, who have offended against this, will be judged in accordance with an order, that I gave at the beginning: he who takes even one Mark of this is a dead man. A number of SS men have offended against this order. They are very few, and they will be dead men! We have the moral right, we had the duty to our people to do it, to kill this people who would kill us..."

1944 Birth: Angela Davis, teacher, civil rights activist, vice presidential candidate of the Communist Party Of America.

1945 WW2: The Soviets under Marshal Rokossovsky reach the Baltic north of Elbing, completely cutting off the remaining Germans in East Prussia.

1950 India is formally proclaimed a republic within the Commonwealth.

1962 In Buffalo, New York, Bishop Burke declares Chubby Checker's The Twist to be 'impure' and bans it from Catholic schools.

1962 The US spacecraft Ranger 3 malfunctions and misses the moon by 20,000 miles.

1965 Hindi becomes the official language of India leading to riots in the south of the country. The following month the government will announce that English will continue as an associate official language.

1991 The Chinese student leader Wang Dan is sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

1992 Russian President Yeltsin announces that his country will stop targeting US cities with nuclear weapons.

1993 Vaclav Havel becomes the first president of the new Czech Republic.

1994 Romania becomes the first former Cold War foe of NATO to sign a partnership document with the military alliance.

2001 An earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale devastates the Indian state of Gujurat; the second largest recorded earthquake in India, the largest being in 1737; the worst natural disaster in India in more than 50 years. The earthquake strikes at approximately 8.46am local time, its epicenter is located 80 kilometers northeast of the city of Bhuj. The shock waves or tremors from the Gujurat earthquake last about two minutes, followed by aftershocks for more than a month. (Bradley)




2003 British Prime Minister Tony Blair declares that UN inspectors must be given 'time to do their job' to see if Saddam Hussein is complying with disarmament obligations.











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