46 BC – Julius Caesar fought Titus Labienus in the Battle of Ruspina.
1649 – English Civil War: The Rump Parliament voted to put Charles I on trial.
1853 – After having been kidnapped and sold into slavery in the American South, Solomon Northup regained his freedom; his memoir Twelve Years a Slave later became a national bestseller.
1854 – The McDonald Islands were discovered by Captain William McDonald aboard the Samarang.
1896 – Utah was admitted as the 45th U.S. state.
1903 – Topsy, an elephant, was electrocuted by the owners of Luna Park, Coney Island. The Edison film company recorded the film Electrocuting an Elephant of Topsy’s death.
1936 – The first pop music chart based on national sales was published by Billboard magazine.
1944 – World War II: Operation Carpetbagger, involving the dropping of arms and supplies to resistance fighters in Europe, began.
1950 – RCA Victor announced that it would manufacture long-playing (LP) records.
1951 – Korean War: Chinese and North Korean forces captured Seoul for the second time.
1957 – Boxer Joe Louis appeared on The Steve Allen Show to introduce singer Solomon Burke.
1958 – Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, fell to Earth from orbit.
1959 – Luna 1 became the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon.
1965 – Leo Fender sold the Fender Guitar Company to CBS for $13 million.
1972 – “Roundabout” was released by Yes.
1987 – The Maryland train collision: An Amtrak train en route to Boston from Washington, D.C., collided with Conrail engines in Chase, Maryland, United States, killing 16 people.
1998 – A massive ice storm hit eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It continued through January 10 and caused widespread destruction.
1999 – Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was sworn in as governor of Minnesota, United States.
2004 – Spirit, a NASA Mars rover, landed successfully on Mars at 04:35 UTC.
2007 – The 110th United States Congress convened and elected Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history.
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