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Famous events that have taken place January 1

January 1 is all about new beginnings. Upon waking up on the

first day of a new year, it’s not uncommon for people to turn over

a new leaf or look ahead to the months to come. But the first day

of the new year also merits a look back, as many historical events

have taken place on January 1.

• 45 BC: Of the many memorable events to take place on January

1, perhaps none had a more lasting effect than January 1 in

45 BC. That’s the day when the Roman Empire officially adopted

the Julian calendar, which established January 1 as the first day of

the new year.

• 404: Gladiatorial fights are banned by Christian Emperor

Honorius, who issues the ban after the Christian monk Telemachus

is stoned to death by a crowd as he tries to stop a gladiatorial

fight in a Roman ampitheater.

• 1500: The coast of Brazil is discovered by Portuguese explorer

Pedro Álvares Cabral. Cabral is acknowledged as the first

European to discover Brazil and during his voyage in 1500 became

the first human in history to be in four continents.

• 1600: More than 1,600 years after the Roman Empire recognized

January 1 as the start of the new year, Scotland follows suit.

Until this point, Scotland had considered March 25 as the start of

its new year.

• 1776: In the midst of the Revolutionary War, General George

Washington hoists the Grand Union Flag, a precursor to the American

flag, at Prospect Hill in Somerville, Massachusetts. Historians

cite this as the first time any American flag was raised.

• 1801: The United Kingdon of Great Britain and Ireland is

proclaimed. The sovereign state would remain in existence until

1922, when the Irish Free State was established.

• 1863: The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate

territory. The proclamation from U.S. President Abraham

Lincoln changed the legal status of more than 3.5 million African

Americans from enslaved to free.

• 1898: The City of Greater New York is created when New

York, NY, annexes land from surrounding counties. Four boroughs

(Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx) are established,

and a fifth (Staten Island) joined less than a month later.

• 1912: The Republic of China is established. The People’s

Republic of China, which rules the mainland today, cites 1949 as

the official end of the Republic of China.

• 1934: Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay becomes a United

States federal prison. High costs of running the prison would be

one of the major contributing factors to its closure as a detention

facility in 1963. The prison is now a popular tourist attraction.

• 1971: A ban on television ads promoting cigarettes goes into

effect in the United States.

• 1990: David Dinkins is sworn in as the first African American

Mayor of New York City. It was not Dinkins’ first turn as a trailblazer,

as he also was among the first African American U.S. Marines.


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