This Day in History

January 23


3102BC  Kali Yuga stage as described in Indian scriptures begins   5120
971      war elephant corps of the Southern Han are soundly defeated at Shao by crossbow fire from Song dynasty troops   1048
1368      Zhu Yuanzhang ascends to the throne of China as the Hongwu Emperor, initiating Ming Dynasty rule over China   651
1556      deadliest known earthquake—Shaanxi, China–830,000 deaths   463
1570      regent James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray is assassinated—throws Scotland into civil war   449
1571      Royal Exchange in London is opened by Elizabeth I   448
1579      Union of Utrecht treaty is signed establishing a Protestant republic in the northern provinces of the Netherlands   440
1656      Blaise Pascal publishes the first of his Lettres provinciales   363
1719      Principality of Liechtenstein is created within the Holy Roman Empire   300
1774      "legge sui pazzi" (law on the insane) was established in Tuscany—first such law to be introduced in all Europe   245
1785      Scottish mathematician and minister of religion Matthew Stewart dies, age 67   234
1789      English novelist, essayist, playwright and translator Frances Brooke dies, age 65   230
1789      Georgetown University is founded as Georgetown College—the first Roman Catholic college in the U.S.   230
1790      HMS Bounty purposely burned at anchor off Pitcairn Island   229
1805      French inventor of the semaphore system that eventually spanned all of France, Claude Chappe dies, age 41   214
1849      Elizabeth Blackwell graduates with first medical degree earned by a woman in the U.S.   170
1855      first permanent bridge over the Mississippi River opens in what is now Minneapolis, Minnesota   164
1862      German mathematician David Hilbert born   157
1870      Marias Massacre:  U.S. cavalrymen massacre a friendly Native American village in Montana, killing over 200 mostly women and children   149
1879      Battle of Rorke's Drift—small garrison of British soldiers defeats an overwhelming force of Zulu warriors   140
1893      Spanish Romantic poet and dramatist José Zorrilla y Moral dies in Madrid, age 75   126
1907      birth of Japanese theoretical physicist and the first Japanese Nobel laureate (1949) Hideki Yukawa in Tokyo   112
1909      SS Florida collides with the RMS Republic off the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts—first use of radio to get help—Republic sinks next day   110
1931      Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlovna (Matveyevna) Pavlova dies in The Hague, Netherlands, age 49   88
1944      Norwegian painter Edvard Munch dies in Oslo, age 80   75
1957      American inventor Walter Frederick "Fred" Morrison sells rights for Pluto Platter to the Wham-O Toy Co—markets it as the Frisbee   62
1958      Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park established in Northern Territory, Australia   61
1960      USS Trieste descends to bottom of Challenger Deep, 35,820 ft below sea level   59
1981      American composer Samuel Osmond Barber II dies, age 70   38
1989      Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech dies, age 84   30
1993      American gospel music writer, "the father of black gospel music," Thomas Andrew Dorsey dies in Chicago, age 93   26
1997      Madeleine Albright sworn in as first woman Secretary of State of the U.S.   22
1999      launch of Columbia with Eileen Collins as the first woman commander of a space mission   20
2003      last signal received from Pioneer 10—distance of 82 AU (almost 31 years after launch)   16
2004      Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo, dies, age 76   15
2011      American fitness, exercise, and nutritional expert Francois Henri "Jack" LaLanne dies, age 96   8
2012      Briton Felicity Aston becomes the first woman to ski solo across Antarctica—completed the over 1000 mile journey in 59 days   7
2015      Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia, dies after a reign of 10 years, age 90   4
2015      Chicago Cubs shortstop and first baseman Ernest "Ernie" Banks, "Mr. Cub," dies in Chicago, age 83   4
2015      in the third period of a game against the Kings, Warriors Klay Thompson set NBA records of 9 3-pointers and 37 total points   4
2018      Meryl Streep receives her record 21st Academy Award nomination—next most nominations for one person:  12   1
2018      NBA Cavaliers' LeBron James becomes the seventh and youngest (33 years 24 days) player to score 30,000 points   1
2018      double car bombing in Benghazi, Libya, kills at least 33 and wounds "dozens" of others   1
2018      7.9 earthquake occurs in the Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak Island—no casualties or damage reported   1
2019      gunman storms a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida and kills at least 5 people   0

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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