1865, President Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude. The Senate had passed the measure in April the year prior and by the House of Representatives on January 31st. Lincoln and the Republicans believed an amendment was needed since his Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 really didn’t free any slaves nor abolish slavery in the Confederate states, then in rebellion to the Union. It was the first new amendment in more than sixty years.
1957, inventor Felix Wankel’s first working rotary engine prototype worked producing high and smooth rpm. His engines became licensed by NSU Motorwerken, which Volkswagen acquired in 1969. Wankel’s engines were purchased and used in the Rolls Royce, Mazda RX-7 and RX-8 up to the 2012 model year, as well as in motorcycles and Arctic Cat snowmobiles.
1925, with an outbreak of diphtheria in Nome, Alaska, dogsled teams rushed serum to the town, inspiring the future dogsled race known as “The Iditarod.”
1834, Wake Forest University was established to train Baptist ministers and laymen. Originally named Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute as both staff and students were expected to labor half a day everyday doing manual labor on its 600 acre plantation. It did not drop the “manual labor” from its name until 1838 when it changed to Wake Forest College.
1933, Missouri ratified the 20th amendment to the Constitution thereby effectively changing the start and end of office for federal elected officials. The new president’s term would begin on the 20th of January.
1943, shoe rationing was announced in the U.S. for all footwear which included rubber or leather.
1855, the “devil’s footprints” mysteriously appeared in southern Devon, England, overnight after a heavy snowfall. Cloven hoof-prints were found in a course of over 40 miles, which up walls and over housetops, and over hay stacks, no obstacle was circumnavigated, the prints went right up over any object in its path. The cause is not known as to how the prints were made.
1752, Benjamin Franklin opened the first hospital in America, called “Pennsylvania Hospital” in Center City, Pennsylvania.
1855, Michigan State University is established by the governor of Michigan, Kinsley S. Bingham, naming the institution the Agriculture College of the State of Michigan. Classes began in May of 1857 with five faculty and 63 students. It required three hours minimum of daily manual labor, which helped keep costs down.
1914, the first stone to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. was set.
1778, the U.S. Flag is formally recognized by a foreign naval vessel for the first time when French Admiral Picquet de la Motte rendered a nine-gun salute to the USS Ranger which was commanded by Captain John Paul Jones.
1764, the city of St. Louis, Missouri, was established. It had been a large center of early native American-Mississippian culture with several earthwork temples and mounds, earning it the nickname of “Mounds City.”
1852, Studebaker Brothers Wagon Company is established, a fore-runner to their automobile manufacturing company.
1877, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
1943, the Paricutin volcano began as a fissure in the cornfield of Sr. Dionisio Pulido. It quickly grew, spewing ash and stones to over five stories high in one week, creating a large cinder cone. Its spectacular eruptions, some of which were filmed and used by 20th Century Fox, buried two nearby villages of Paricutin and San Juan Parangaricutiro. The volcano grew over 1100 feet high within the first year and is believed to be a monogenetic volcano, meaning it will most likely never erupt again.
1896, the Tootsie Roll was invented.
1944, the all volunteer long-range penetrating light infantry special operations unit known as Merrill’s Marauders, began their 1,000 mile long journey from India to Burma, behind Japanese lines. The U.S. Army’s official name was the 5307th Composite Unit. It was consolidated with the 475th Infantry in August and ten years later, re-designated the 75th Infantry, becoming the parent and bearing the 75th Infantry Regiment. Of the original 2,370 Marauders, 130 survived the trek and battles. Only two men made it through without major illness, injury or wounds.
1836, Samuel Colt received a patent for his new-fangled Colt revolver.
1933, the USS Ranger was launched, and was the first U.S. Navy ship to be built solely as an aircraft carrier.
1946, the first reported “ghost rockets” were made in Sweden when several missiles or rockets were seen and photographed. It is uncertain as to the origin but a very possible explanation was the Soviets were test firing captured German rockets and missiles. About 2,000 sitings were recorded between February and December of 1946 by the Swedish government. Scoffed at as nothing more than meteors, the reports were scrutinized more closely when it appeared that the rockets showed maneuverability while in flight. Sometimes they flew in formation, sometimes horizontal to the ground, not typical behavior for a meteor, also, sometimes they were seen in broad daylight.
2012, the Tokyo Skytree tower was completed, becoming the world’s tallest tower. Besides being a broadcasting tower, it is also a restaurant and observation tower. It is currently the world’s second tallest structure, second only to the Burj Khalifa. The tower broadcasts eight television stations and two FM radio stations.