On This Day in History January 4

January 4 – Events:

  • 46 BC – Titus Labienus defeats Julius Caesar in the Battle of Ruspina.
  • 871 – Battle of Reading: Ethelred of Wessex fights, and is defeated by, a Danish invasion army.
  • 1490 – Anna of Brittany announces that all those who would ally with the King of France will be considered guilty of the crime of lese-majesty.
  • 1493 – Christopher Columbus leaves the New World, ending his first journey.
  • 1642 – King Charles I of England sends soldiers to arrest members of Parliament, commencing England’s slide into civil war.
  • 1698 – Most of the Palace of Whitehall in London, the main residence of the English monarchs, is destroyed by fire.
  • 1717 – The Netherlands, England, and France sign the Triple Alliance.
  • 1762 – England declares war on Spain and Naples.
  • 1847 – Samuel Colt sells his first revolver pistol to the United States government.
  • 1854 – The McDonald Islands are discovered by Captain William McDonald aboard the Samarang.
  • 1865 – The New York Stock Exchange opens its first permanent headquarters at 10-12 Broad near Wall Street in New York City.
  • 1878 – Sofia is emancipated from Ottoman rule.
  • 1884 – The Fabian Society is founded in London.
  • 1885 – The first successful appendectomy is performed by William W. Grant on Mary Gartside.
  • 1896 – Utah is admitted as the 45th U.S. state.
  • 1903 – Topsy, an elephant, was electrocuted by Thomas Edison during the War of Currents campaign.
  • 1912 – The Scout Association is incorporated throughout the British Commonwealth by Royal Charter.
  • 1944 – World War II: Operation Carpetbagger, involving the dropping of arms and supplies to resistance fighters in Europe, begins.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Battle of Monte Cassino begins.
  • 1948 – Burma regains its independence from the United Kingdom.
  • 1951 – Korean War: Chinese and North Korean forces capture Seoul.
  • 1958 – Sputnik 1 falls to Earth from its orbit (it was launched on October 4, 1957).
  • 1959 – Luna 1 becomes the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon.
  • 1962 – New York City introduces a train that operates without a crew on-board.
  • 1965 – United States President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaims his “Great Society” during his State of the Union address.
  • 1972 – Rose Heilbron becomes the first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey in London.
  • 1974 – United States President Richard Nixon refuses to hand over materials subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.
  • 1975 – Elizabeth Ann Seton becomes the first American-born saint.
  • 1987 – The Chase, Maryland rail wreck: An Amtrak train en route to Boston, Massachusetts from Washington, D.C., collides with Conrail engines in Chase, Maryland, killing 16 people.
  • 1989 – Second Gulf of Sidra incident: a pair of Libyan MiG-23 “Floggers” are shot down by a pair of US Navy F-14 Tomcats during an air-to-air confrontation.
  • 1998 – Wilaya of Relizane massacres in Algeria: over 170 are killed in three remote villages.
  • 1998 – A massive ice storm hits eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, continuing through January 10 and causing widespread destruction.
  • 1999 – Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura is sworn in as governor of Minnesota.
  • 1999 – Gunmen open fire on Shiite Muslims worshipping in an Islamabad mosque, killing 16 people and injuring 25.
  • 2004 – Spirit, a NASA Mars Rover, lands successfully on Mars at 04:35 UTC.
  • 2006 – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel suffers a second, apparently more serious stroke. His authority is transferred to acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
  • 2007 – The 110th United States Congress convenes, electing Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history.

January 4 – Birthdays:

  • 1077 – Emperor Zhezong of Song Dynasty in China (d. 1100)
  • 1334 – Amadeus VI of Savoy (d. 1383)
  • 1581 – James Ussher, Irish Anglican archbishop (d. 1656)
  • 1643 – Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician and natural philosopher (d. 1727)
  • 1664 – Lars Roberg, Swedish physician (d. 1742)
  • 1672 – Hugh Boulter, Irish Archbishop of Armagh (d. 1742)
  • 1710 – Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Italian composer (d. 1736)
  • 1720 – Johann Friedrich Agricola, German composer (d. 1774)
  • 1785 – Jakob Grimm, German philologist and folklorist (d. 1863)
  • 1809 – Louis Braille, French inventor of braille (d. 1852)
  • 1813 – Isaac Pitman, English inventor (Pitman shorthand) (d. 1897)
  • 1832 – George Tryon, British admiral (d. 1893)
  • 1838 – Charles Sherwood Stratton, American circus performer (d. 1883)
  • 1839 – Carl Humann, German engineer (d. 1896)
  • 1842 – Frederic T. Greenhalge, 38 Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1896)
  • 1848 – Katsura Taro, Prime Minister of Japan (d. 1913)
  • 1869 – Tommy Corcoran, American baseball player (d. 1960)
  • 1870 – Percy Pitt, English organist and conductor (d. 1932)
  • 1874 – Josef Suk, Czech composer (d. 1935)
  • 1878 – Augustus John, Welsh painter (d. 1961)
  • 1881 – Wilhelm Lehmbruck, German sculptor (d. 1919)
  • 1882 – Aristarkh Lentulov, Russian artist (d. 1943)
  • 1883 – Max Eastman, American writer (d. 1969)
  • 1891 – Edward Brooker, Premier of Tasmania (d. 1948)
  • 1893 – Yone Minagawa, Japanese, became worlds Oldest living person January 29, 2007. (d. Aug. 13, 2007)
  • 1894 – Manuel de Abreu, Brazilian physician (d. 1962)
  • 1896 – Everett Dirksen, American politician (d. 1969)
  • 1896 – André Masson, French artist (d. 1987)
  • 1900 – James Bond, American ornithologist (d. 1989)
  • 1901 – C. L. R. James, writer and journalist (d. 1989)
  • 1902 – John McCone, CIA Director (d. 1991)
  • 1905 – Sterling Holloway, American actor (d. 1992)
  • 1910 – Arthur Villeneuve, Quebec painter (d. 1990)
  • 1913 – Malietoa Tanumafili II, Sovereign Ruler of Samoa (d.2007)
  • 1914 – Herman Franks, American baseball player
  • 1916 – Lionel Newman, American film music composer (d. 1989)
  • 1916 – Robert Parrish, U.S. film editor and director (d. 1995)
  • 1920 – William Colby, American CIA director (d. 1996)
  • 1922 – Rosalie Crutchley, English actress (d. 1997)
  • 1924 – Sebastian Kappen, Indian theologian (d. 1993)
  • 1925 – Veikko Hakulinen, Finnish cross-country skier (d. 2003)
  • 1927 – Paul Desmarais, Canadian businessman
  • 1927 – Barbara Rush, American actress
  • 1929 – Yayoi Kusama, Japanese artist, sculptor
  • 1930 – Sorrell Booke, American actor (d. 1994)
  • 1930 – Don Shula, American football coach
  • 1931 – Adi Lady Lala Mara, First Lady of Fiji (d. 2004)
  • 1931 – Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia 1996-2001
  • 1932 – Carlos Saura, Spanish director
  • 1933 – Ilia II Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia.
  • 1934 – Rudolf Schuster, President of Slovakia
  • 1935 – Floyd Patterson, American boxer (d. 2006)
  • 1937 – Grace Bumbry, American singer
  • 1937 – Dyan Cannon, American actress
  • 1940 – Helmut Jahn, German architect
  • 1940 – Brian David Josephson, Welsh physicist, Nobel laureate
  • 1940 – Gao Xingjian, Chinese-born French novelist and dramatist, Nobel laureate
  • 1941 – Maureen Reagan, American political activist (d. 2001)
  • 1941 – George Pan Cosmatos, Greek film director (d. 2005)
  • 1941 – John Bennett Perry, American actor
  • 1942 – John McLaughlin, English jazz guitarist
  • 1943 – Doris Kearns Goodwin, American writer
  • 1945 – Vesa-Matti Loiri, Finnish entertainer
  • 1945 – Richard R. Schrock, American chemist, Nobel laureate
  • 1946 – Susannah McCorkle, American jazz singer (d. 2001)
  • 1946 – Arthur Conley, American singer (d. 2003)
  • 1947 – Chris Cutler, English musician and composer (Henry Cow, Art Bears)
  • 1947 – Rick Stein, English chef and television presenter
  • 1948 – Eugeniusz Wycislo, Polish politician
  • 1950 – John Louis Evans, convicted murderer (d. 1983)
  • 1951 – Barbara Cochran, American alpine skier
  • 1953 – Norberto Alonso, Argentine footballer
  • 1954 – Eugene Chadbourne, American composer and musician
  • 1955 – Mark Hollis, English musician and composer (Talk Talk)
  • 1956 – Nels Cline, American guitarist and composer
  • 1956 – Bernard Sumner, English musician (Joy Division, New Order, Electronic)
  • 1957 – Patty Loveless, American singer
  • 1958 – Andy Borowitz, American comedian and satirist
  • 1958 – Matt Frewer, American actor
  • 1958 – Gary Jones, Welsh-born actor
  • 1958 – Julian Sands, English actor
  • 1959 – Yoshitomo Nara, Japanese pop artist
  • 1960 – Michael Stipe, American singer (R.E.M.)
  • 1960 – April Winchell, American actress
  • 1961 – Lee Curreri, American actor
  • 1962 – Laila Eloui, Egyptian actress
  • 1962 – Robin Guthrie, Scottish guitarist (Cocteau Twins)
  • 1962 – Peter Steele, American musician (Type O Negative)
  • 1963 – Dave Foley, Canadian comedian and actor
  • 1963 – Till Lindemann, German singer (Rammstein)
  • 1965 – Yvan Attal, French actor and director
  • 1965 – Guy Forget, French tennis player
  • 1965 – Beth Gibbons, English singer (Portishead)
  • 1965 – Cait O’Riordan, British musician (The Pogues)
  • 1965 – Julia Ormond, English actress
  • 1966 – Deana Carter, American singer
  • 1967 – David Berman, American poet and singer/songwriter (Silver Jews)
  • 1967 – Johnny Nelson, English boxer
  • 1967 – Marina Orsini, Canadian actress
  • 1967 – David Toms, American professional golfer
  • 1968 – Mike Wilpolt, Head Coach of the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League
  • 1970 – Chris Kanyon, American professional wrestler
  • 1971 – Junichi Kakizaki, Japanese artist, sculptor
  • 1972 – James Longley, American documentary filmmaker
  • 1973 – Frank Høj, Danish cyclist
  • 1973 – Harmony Korine, American film director and artist
  • 1974 – Ian Moor, English singer
  • 1976 – Benoît Joachim, Luxembourg cyclist
  • 1976 – Ted Lilly, American baseball player
  • 1977 – Irán Castillo, Mexican actress
  • 1977 – Tim Wheeler, Irish singer (Ash)
  • 1978 – Dominik Hrbatý, Slovakian tennis player
  • 1978 – Mai Meneses, Spanish singer
  • 1979 – Tristan Gommendy, French racing driver
  • 1979 – Jeph Howard, American musician (The Used)
  • 1980 – Greg Cipes, American actor
  • 1980 – Yaroslav Popovych, Ukrainian Cyclist
  • 1980 – Erin Cahill, American actress
  • 1980 – Miguel Monteiro, Portuguese footballer
  • 1982 – Paulo Ferrari, Argentinian footballer
  • 1982 – Kang Hye-jeong, South Korean actress
  • 1982 – Richard Logan, English footballer
  • 1983 – Spencer Chamberlain, American singer (Underoath)
  • 1985 – Al Jefferson, American basketball player
  • 1985 – Fernando Rees, Brazilian race car driver
  • 1986 – James Milner, English footballer
  • 1986 – Steve Slaton , American football player
  • 1988 – Nabila Jamshed, Indian writer
  • 1991 – Olivia Tennet, New Zealand actress
  • 1995 – María Isabel, Spanish singer
  • 2000 – Rhiannon Leigh Wryn, American actress

January 4 – Deaths:

  • 1248 – King Sancho II of Portugal (b. 1207)
  • 1428 – Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, ‘The Warlike’ (b. 1370)
  • 1564 – Hosokawa Ujitsuna, Japanese military commander (b. 1514)
  • 1584 – Tobias Stimmer, Swiss painter and drawer (b. 1539)
  • 1695 – François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, duc de Luxembourg, French general (b. 1628)
  • 1752 – Gabriel Cramer, Swiss mathematician (b. 1704)
  • 1761 – Stephen Hales, English physiologist (b. 1677)
  • 1773 – Anton Losenko, Russian painter (b. 1737)
  • 1782 – Ange-Jacques Gabriel, French architect (b. 1698)
  • 1804 – Charlotte Lennox, English author and poet (bc. 1730)
  • 1821 – Elizabeth Ann Seton, American saint (b. 1774)
  • 1825 – King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies (b. 1751)
  • 1863 – Roger Hanson, Confederate general (b.1827)
  • 1874 – Thomas Gregson, Premier of Tasmania (b. 1798)
  • 1877 – Cornelius Vanderbilt, American entrepreneur (b. 1794)
  • 1882 – John William Draper, English scientist, photographer (b. 1811)
  • 1883 – Antoine Eugène Alfred Chanzy, French general (b. 1823)
  • 1891 – Antoine Labelle, Quebec catholic priest (b. 1833)
  • 1896 – Joseph Hubert Reinkens, German Old Catholic bishop (b. 1821)
  • 1903 – Gulstan Ropert, Roman Catholic prelate (b. 1839)
  • 1903 – Topsy the elephant (b. circa 1875)
  • 1919 – Georg von Hertling, Chancellor of Germany (b. 1843)
  • 1920 – Benito Pérez Galdós, Spanish novelist (b. 1843)
  • 1924 – Alfred Grünfeld, Austrian pianist, composer (b. 1852)
  • 1931 – Art Acord, American actor (b. 1890)
  • 1941 – Henri Bergson, French philosopher, Nobel laureate (b. 1859)
  • 1944 – Kai Munk, Danish playwright, Lutheran pastor (b. 1898)
  • 1960 – Albert Camus, Algerian-born French philosopher and writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1913)
  • 1961 – Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1887)
  • 1962 – Hans Lammers, German SS officer (b. 1879)
  • 1965 – T. S. Eliot, American-born writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1888)
  • 1967 – Donald Campbell, English motorboat racer (b. 1921)
  • 1969 – Daisy and Violet Hilton, British conjoined twins (b. 1908)
  • 1970 – Jean-Étienne Valluy, French general (b. 1899)
  • 1971 – Arthur Ford, American clairaudient (b. 1896)
  • 1975 – Carlo Levi, Italian anti-fascist painter, writer and activist (b. 1902)
  • 1981 – Ruth Lowe, Canadian pianist and composer (I’ll Never Smile Again) (b. 1914)
  • 1985 – Brian Horrocks, British general (b. 1895)
  • 1985 – Lovro von Matacic, Croatian conductor (b. 1899)
  • 1986 – Christopher Isherwood, English writer (b. 1904)
  • 1986 – Phil Lynott, Irish musician (Thin Lizzy) (b. 1949)
  • 1988 – Lily Laskine, French harpist (b. 1893)
  • 1990 – Harold Edgerton, American electrical engineer (b. 1903)
  • 1990 – Sir Henry Bolte, Premier of Victoria 1955-1972 (b. 1908)
  • 1993 – Charles Bridgford, Australian politician
  • 1994 – RD Burman, Indian musician (b. 1939)
  • 1995 – Sol Tax, American anthropologist (b. 1907)
  • 1995 – Eduardo Mata, Mexican conductor and composer (b. 1942)
  • 1996 – Ramón Vinay, Chilean operatic tenor (b. 1911)
  • 1997 – Harry Helmsley, American real estate mogul (b. 1909)
  • 1998 – Mae Questel, American actress (b. 1908)
  • 1998 – John Gary, U.S. popular singer (b. 1932)
  • 1999 – Iron Eyes Cody, American actor (b. 1904)
  • 2000 – Tom Fears, American football player (b. 1922)
  • 2001 – Les Brown, American bandleader (b. 1912)
  • 2003 – Sabine Ulibarri, Mexican American writer (b. 1919)
  • 2003 – Yfrah Neaman, Lebanese-born violinist (b. 1923)
  • 2003 – Conrad Hall, American cinematographer (b. 1927)
  • 2004 – John Toland, American historian (b. 1912)
  • 2004 – Joan Aiken, English author (b. 1924)
  • 2004 – Jake Hess, American singer (b. 1927)
  • 2004 – Jeff Nuttall, English writer (b. 1933)
  • 2004 – Brian Gibson (director), English film director (b. 1944)
  • 2005 – Alton Tobey, American artist (b. 1914)
  • 2005 – Robert Heilbroner, American economist (b. 1919)
  • 2005 – Frank Harary, American mathematician (b. 1921)
  • 2005 – Bud Poile, Canadian ice hockey player (b. 1924)
  • 2005 – Guy Davenport, American author, artist, and scholar (b. 1927)
  • 2005 – Humphrey Carpenter, English author (b. 1946)
  • 2005 – Ali al-Haidri, Iraqi governor of Baghdad (assassinated)
  • 2006 – Irving Layton, Canadian poet (b. 1912)
  • 2006 – Robert Howard White, Mayor of Papatoetoe, New Zealand (b. 1914)
  • 2006 – Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai (b. 1946)
  • 2007 – Marais Viljoen, former State President of South Africa (b. 1915)
  • 2007 – Sir Lewis Hodges, British Air Chief Marshal (b. 1918)
  • 2007 – Steve Krantz, American film and TV producer (Fritz the Cat) (b. 1923)
  • 2007 – Osman Waqialla, Sudanese artist and calligrapher (b. 1925)
  • 2007 – Gren, Welsh newspaper cartoonist (b. 1934)
  • 2007 – Sandro Salvadore, Italian footballer (b. 1939)
  • 2007 – Jan Schröder, Dutch cyclist (b. 1941)
  • 2007 – Gáspár Nagy, Hungarian poet and writer (b. 1949)
  • 2007 – Ben Gannon, Australian theatre film and television producer (b. 1952)
  • 2007 – Helen Hill, American independent film-maker (b. 1970)
  • 2008 – Joyce Carlson, American artist (b. 1923)
  • 2008 – Xavier Chamorro Cardenal, Nicaraguan print editor (b. 1932)

January 4 – Holidays:

  • National Day of Burma
  • Feast day of St Elizabeth Ann Seton
  • The eleventh night and tenth day of Christmas in Western Christianity
  • Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People
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