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Explosion of the Challenger space shuttle

Major historical anniversaries in January 

Image: Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after take-off - Public Domain | Right Graphic:

We take a look back through the history books and discover some of the most noteworthy events to take place in the month of January.

1 January

1863: Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation

The executive order was issued by President Lincoln during the American Civil War and declared ‘that all persons held as slaves’ within the rebellious states ‘are, and henceforth shall be free’.

1999: The euro officially debuts

The first day of January 1999 saw the euro currency come into existence as eleven nations adopted the single currency.

2022: Hottest New Year’s Day on record

2022 was the warmest ever year in the UK and it was kicked off with the hottest New Year’s Day, with 16.3C recorded at St James’s Park, London.

4 January

1948: Burma gains independence from the UK.

British rule in the Southeast Asian country (now called Myanmar) began in 1824 and lasted until 1948, at which point Burma chose to become fully independent.

6 January

1066: Harold II is crowned king of England

Harold Godwinson was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon English king. He reigned for a matter of months before his death at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, after which the Normans ruled England for the next 300 years.

1412: Joan of Arc is born

The peasant girl turned French heroine who saved her nation before becoming a martyr at just 19 years old, was believed to have been born on this day in 1412.

2021: The storming of the Capitol

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election defeat to Joe Biden, supporters of the former president attacked the US Capitol Building in Washington. The riots sparked the largest criminal investigation in the US Justice Department’s history.

7 January

1943: Famed scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla dies

A pioneer of the electrical revolution, the Serbian-American invented the first alternating current (AC) motor and developed AC generation and transmission technology.

1979: Pol Pot overthrown

Pol Pot, the political leader of the brutal Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia, was finally overthrown by Vietnamese troops after they seized the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Around two million people died at the hands of Pot’s radical communist government.

2015: Charlie Hebdo attack kills twelve

Two French Muslim terrorists and brothers armed with rifles entered the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Twelve people were murdered and eleven others were injured.

9 January

2007: Steve Jobs debuts iPhone

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at the Macworld convention in San Francisco. The revolutionary piece of technology put the internet in everyone’s pocket, forever changing the world in the process.

15 January

1559: Elizabeth I crowned

Heralded as one of England’s greatest monarchs, Elizabeth I, who oversaw the defeat of the Spanish Armada, was crowned on this day in 1559.

17 January

1773: Captain James Cook becomes the first European to venture south of the Antarctic Circle.

During his second voyage, Cook’s ship Resolution succeeded in reaching 67° 15ʹ south, the first known ship to have ever gone that far.

20 January

2009: Barack Obama inaugurated

Barack Obama became the first African American president in the history of the US after he was sworn in as the country's 44th president.

22 January

1901: Queen Victoria dies

She sat atop the throne for nearly 64 years, making her Britain's second longest-reigning monarch. Queen Victoria's reign was synonymous with Britain’s industrial development, economic progression, and imperial expansion. When she died, the British Empire was almost at its peak, covering a quarter of the world and nearly half a billion people.

24 January

1965: Winston Churchill passes away

Arguably the greatest political leader in British history, Winston Churchill guided Britain and the Allies through WWII. He died at the age of 90 after suffering a stroke.

25 January

1947: Al Capone dies

Known as one of the most infamous gangsters in history, Al Capone (aka Scarface) passed away from syphilis at the age of 48.

27 January

1944: The Siege of Leningrad ends

Lasting 872 days, the Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history. The Axis powers began their blockade of the Soviet city in September 1941 and by the time it ended in 1944, one million civilians had been killed.

1945: Liberation of Auschwitz

Located in southern Poland, Auschwitz was Nazi Germany’s largest and most lethal concentration camp. Around 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The camp was finally liberated by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945.

28 January

1986: Space shuttle Challenger explodes

Just 73 seconds after lift-off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the US space shuttle Challenger broke up live on television. All seven astronauts onboard were killed. The cause of the crash was due to an O-ring seal failure in one of the solid-fuel rockets.

30 January

1933: Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

Germany took one step closer to becoming a dictatorship when Hitler was formally appointed as the country’s new chancellor. With the Nazi party’s grip on Germany tightening, the world was headed on a new path toward war.

1948: Gandhi assassinated

Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s nonviolent independence movement against colonial British rule, was shot and killed by a Hindu extremist in New Delhi.

2020: First cases of COVID-19 in the UK

The first two cases of COVID-19 in the UK were confirmed after Chinese nationals staying in York were diagnosed with coronavirus.

31 January

1606: Guy Fawkes jumps to his death

Famous for his role in the gunpowder plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, Guy Fawkes was found guilty of treason in a show trial in 1606. On 31 January, he managed to avoid being hung, drawn and quartered by leaping to his death as he awaited the gallows, Fawkes subsequently died of a broken neck.