On This Day

Events in History on December 31

MurderAssassination Attempt

192 Roman Emperor Commodus survives poisoning attempt by his mistress only to be strangled in the bath in assassination plot

Roman Emperor Commodus
Roman Emperor
  • 406 80,000 Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine at Mainz, beginning invasion of Gallia
  • 535 Byzantine General Belisarius completes the conquest of Sicily, defeating Ostrogothic garrison of Syracuse, and ending his consulship for the year
  • 765 Coffin of Ho-tse Shen-hui interred in a stupa built in China
  • 870 Skirmish at Englefield: Ethelred of Wessex beats Danish invasion army
  • 1229 James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (Palma) consummating Christian conquest of the island of Majorca
  • 1492 100,000 Jews expelled from Sicily
  • 1502 Cesare Borgia (son of pope Alexander VI) occupies Urbino
  • 1564 Willem van Orange demands freedom of conscience/religion
  • 1600 British East India Company chartered
  • 1604 Admiral Steven van der Haghen's fleet reaches Bantam

AgreementTreaty of Interest

1621 Hungarian King Bethlen Gabor and Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II sign the Treaty of Mikulov

Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II
Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand II
  • 1660 James II of England is named Duke of Normandy by Louis XIV of France.
  • 1669 France & Brandenburg sign secret treaty
  • 1670 France & England sign Boyne-treaty
  • 1687 1st Huguenots depart France to Cape of Good Hope

  • 1688 Pro-James II-earl of Devonshire occupies Nottingham [OS=Dec 21]
  • 1695 A window tax is imposed in England, causing many shopkeepers to brick up their windows to avoid the tax.

Gregory Conquers Julius CaesarGregory Conquers Julius Caesar

1700 Frisia and Groningen adopt Gregorian calendar, tomorrow is 1/12/1701

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Pope Gregory XIII with the calendar that was to make his name
Pope Gregory XIII with the calendar that was to make his name
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Event of interestEvent of Interest

1711 John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, fired as English army commander

InventionScientific Discovery

1744 English astronomer James Bradley announces discovery of Earth's nutation motion (wobble)

Astronomer James Bradley
James Bradley
  • 1756 Russia joins the Alliance of Versailles
  • 1758 British expeditionary army occupies Goree (Dakar) Senegal
  • 1775 Battle of Quebec in American Revolutionary War; Americans defeated trying to take British stronghold
  • 1776 Rhode Island establishes wage & price controls to curb inflation: Limit is 70 cents a day for carpenters, 42 cents for tailors
  • 1779 British fleet beat Dutch Merchant vessels
  • 1781 Bank of North America, 1st US bank opens
  • 1783 Import of African slaves banned by all of the Northern US states
  • 1805 End of French Republican calendar; France returns to Gregorianism
  • 1831 Gramercy Park is deeded to New York City
  • 1841 Alabama becomes 1st state to license dental surgeons

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1857 Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as new capital of Canada

Queen of the United Kingdom Queen Victoria
Queen of the United Kingdom
Queen Victoria
  • 1859 Dutch colony in Dutch Indies counts 4,800 slaves
  • 1861 22,990mm of rain falls in Cherrapunji Assam in India in 1861, a world record
  • 1862 -Jan 20th) Battle of Stone's River (Battle of Murfreesboro), Tennessee in US Civil War

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1862 President Abraham Lincoln signs act admitting West Virginia to the Union

16th US President Abraham Lincoln
16th US President
Abraham Lincoln

  • 1862 Skirmish at Parker Cross Roads, Tennessee
  • 1862 Union ironclad ship "Monitor" sank off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
  • 1870 J D Schneiter patents rocket mail in France, (not done)
  • 1879 Cornerstone laid for Honolulu's Iolani Palace (only royal palace in US)
  • 1879 Edison gives 1st public demonstration of his incandescent lamp
  • 1897 Brooklyn's last day as a city, it incorporates into NYC (1/1/1898)
  • 1901 In the first election under their new constitution, Cuba elects a Congress and their first president, Tomas Estrada Palma
  • 1904 First New Year's Eve celebration held in Times Square, New York City
  • 1906 French, British and Italian treaty concerning rights on Abyssinia
  • 1907 For 1st time, a ball drops at Times Square to signal the New Year
  • 1907 Gustav Mahler conducts the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City
  • 1910 US tobacco industry produced 9 billion cigarettes in 1910

Nobel prizeNobel Prize

1911 Marie Curie receives her second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, for her work with radioactivity

Physicist Marie Curie
Marie Curie
  • 1917 Dutch Social-democratic trade union NVV counts 159,450 members
  • 1921 Last San Francisco firehorses retired
  • 1923 1st transatlantic radio broadcast of a voice, Pittsburgh-Manchester

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1924 Italian Fascist Mussolini orders the suppression of opposition newspapers

Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini
Italian Dictator
Benito Mussolini
  • 1925 14th congress of CPSU decides to accelerate industry
  • 1927 Ponsford scores 336 against SA, giving him 1146 for month

BeatificationCatholic Encyclical

1929 Pope Pius XI publishes encyclical Divini illius magistri

259th Pope Pius XI
259th Pope
Pius XI

  • 1930 Pontifical encyclical Casti connubii against mixed marriages
  • 1930 US tobacco industry produced 123 billion cigarettes in 1930
  • 1932 John P O'Brien sworn-in as mayor of NYC
  • 1934 Helen Richey becomes 1st woman to pilot an airmail transport
  • 1935 CPH becomes Dutch Communist Party
  • 1935 Charles Darrow patents the board game Monopoly, goes on to be the 1st millionaire game designer
  • 1938 Dr R N Harger's "drunkometer", 1st breath test, introduced in Indiana
  • 1938 Dutch national debt hits ƒ3,986,629,805.70
  • 1939 Dutch national debt hits ƒ4,218,553,180.99
  • 1941 Young Park (2) in the Bronx named in honor of Samuel Young
  • 1942 Battle of the Barents Sea between British Navy and German Kriegsmarine off North Cape, Norway
  • 1944 48 people die in a train accident in Ogden, Utah
  • 1944 Japanese army evacuates harbor city Akyab
  • 1944 World War II: Hungary declares war on Germany.

United NationsUnited Nations Charter

1945 Ratification of United Nations Charter completed

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Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations
Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations
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  • 1946 French troops leave Lebanon

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1946 US President Harry Truman officially proclaims end of WW II

33rd US President Harry Truman
33rd US President
Harry Truman
  • 1948 Dutch police actions up Java gone on strike
  • 1949 18 countries recognize Republic Indonesia
  • 1951 1st battery to convert radioactive energy to electricity announced

  • 1953 Hulan Jack sworn in as Manhattan Borough president
  • 1953 Bill Shoemaker shatters record, riding 485 winners in a year

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1955 The General Motors Corporation becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion USD in a year.

President of General Motors Harlow Curtice
President of General Motors
Harlow Curtice
  • 1957 AAU awards Bobby Morrow, James Sullivan Memorial Trophy

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1958 Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista tells his Cabinet he is fleeing the country

Cuban President and Dictator Fulgencio Batista
Cuban President and Dictator
Fulgencio Batista
  • 1958 International Geophyscial Year ends
  • 1961 The Beach Boys play their debut gig under that name
  • 1961 Failed coup by Syrian group in Lebanon
  • 1961 Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than $12 billion
  • 1962 Dutch leave New Guinea
  • 1962 Katanga becomes part of Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 1962 Ohio ends suit against Reds when they agree to stay in Cin for 10 yrs
  • 1964 Donald Campbell (UK) sets world water speed record (276.33 mph)
  • 1964 Indonesia proclaims expelled from the UN
  • 1966 Pirate Radio 390 (Radio Invicata) off England, resumes transmitting
  • 1966 Toboggan Chutes begin operation in Cleveland Metroparks

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1967 Evel Knievel fails in his attempt to jump the Caesar's Palace Fountain, Las Vegas, breaking his pelvis, femur, wrist, hip and both ankles

Motorcycle Daredevil Evel Knievel
Motorcycle Daredevil
Evel Knievel
  • 1968 1st supersonic airliner flown (Russian TU-144)
  • 1969 Congo-Brazzaville becomes People's republic, under major Ngouabi

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1970 Congress authorizes Eisenhower dollar coin

34th US President & WWII General Dwight D. Eisenhower
34th US President & WWII General
Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • 1970 President Allende nationalizes Chilean coal mines
  • 1971 Lt Gen Robert E Cushman, Jr, USMC, ends term as deputy director of CIA
  • 1971 Edmund Compton, then Northern Ireland Ombudsman, is replaced by John Benn
  • 1972 Leap second day; also in 1973-79, 1987

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1972 Martin McGuinness is arrested and held under the new Republic of Ireland legislation

Sinn Féin Leader Martin McGuinness
Sinn Féin Leader
Martin McGuinness
  • 1974 Gold legal in US, Franklin Mint strikes Panama's Gold 100 balboa coin
  • 1974 Popular Electronics displays Altair 8800 computer
  • 1976 TV soap "Somerset" ends 6 year run
  • 1976 The Cars played their 1st gig
  • 1977 Amir Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah becomes leader of Kuwait
  • 1977 Cambodia drops diplomatic relations with Vietnam
  • 1977 Donald Woods, a banned anti-Apartheid white editor flees South Africa

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1977 Ted Bundy escapes from jail in Colorado

Serial Killer Ted Bundy
Serial Killer
Ted Bundy
  • 1977 WFAT (Brooklyn New York pirate radio station) begins broadcasting on 1620 AM
  • 1977 Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is imprisoned for co-writing a play critical of the Kenyan government
  • 1978 CIA director, Admiral Stansfield Turner retires from the Navy
  • 1978 Iran shah names Chapour Bakhtiar premier
  • 1978 Taiwan's final day of diplomatic relations with US
  • 1980 After being struck by an orange thrown from the crowd West Indian fast bowler Sylvester Clarke knocks out a spectator with a brick during 4th Test against Pakistan in Multan
  • 1980 A Jewish owned hotel in Nairobi Kenya is bombed killing 18

  • 1980 Senegal president Leopold Senghor resigns
  • 1981 Lt Jerry Rawlings becomes head of Ghana, suspends constitution
  • 1981 Netherlands unemployment stands at record 475,000
  • 1982 TV soap "Doctors" ends 19 year run
  • 1983 Brunei gains complete independence from Britain
  • 1983 Jose Happart installed as mayor of Voeren, Belgium
  • 1983 Nigeria's National Assembly dissolves after military coup

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1983 Benjamin Ward appointed 1st African American NY City Police Commissioner by Mayor Ed Koch

Congressman and NYC Mayor Ed Koch
Congressman and NYC Mayor
Ed Koch

BattleCoup d'état

1983 President Shagari of Nigeria is overthrown in a military coup and Major General Muhammadu Buhari is installed as Head of State

President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari
President of Nigeria
Muhammadu Buhari
  • 1984 NYC subway gunman Bernhard Goetz surrenders to police in NH
  • 1984 US leaves UNESCO
  • 1986 Dupont Plaza Hotel fire in San Juan, Puerto Rico kills 97
  • 1986 Russian TU-144 flies for 1st time faster than sound
  • 1986 WIS-AM in Columbia SC changes call letters to WVOC (now WOMG)

Sports AwardsThe 1988 Fog Bowl

1988 "The Fog Bowl", a heavy, dense fog rolls over Soldier Field in Chicago during second quarter of the Bears vs Eagles NFC Divisional Playoff Game, cuts visibility to 15-20 yards (Bears win 20-12)

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A photo taken as the Bears and Eagles face off in the 1988
A photo taken as the Bears and Eagles face off in the 1988 "Fog Bowl"
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  • 1990 Iraq begins a military draft of 17 year olds
  • 1990 United Somali Congress seizes Presidential Palace
  • 1991 CPN, Communist Party of Netherland, last day of existence
  • 1991 Dow Jones closes at record high 3168.83
  • 1994 1st snowless December in Baltimore Maryland

  • 1994 Anti Apartheid Group of Netherlands (AABN) disbands
  • 1994 This date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones from UTC-11 to UTC+13 and UTC-10 to UTC+14, respectively.
  • 1995 Cartoonist Bill Watterson ends his "Calvin & Hobbes" comic strip after 10 years, believing he had achieved all he could in the medium

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1997 Intel cuts price of Pentium II-233 MHz from $401 to $268

Semiconductor Pioneer and CEO of Intel Andrew Grove
Semiconductor Pioneer and CEO of Intel
Andrew Grove
  • 1997 Microsoft buys Hotmail email service for $400 million and re-launches it as MSN Hotmail
  • 1997 More Swedes died than were born in 1997, 1st time since 1809
  • 1997 Orlando Hernandez, half-brother of pitcher Livan, defects from Cuba
  • 1997 South African & US surgeons separate Zambian Siamese twins joined at the head
  • 1998 Exchange rates between the euro and legacy currencies in the Eurozone become fixed.
  • 1999 Control of Panama Canal reverts to Panama

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1999 Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as acting President

Russian President Boris Yeltsin
Russian President
Boris Yeltsin
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President
Vladimir Putin
  • 2004 Official opening of Taipei 101, then the tallest skyscraper in the world, at a height of 509 metres (1,670 feet)

Event of interestEvent of Interest

2005 Jamie Dimon named as CEO of JPMorgan Chase

CEO of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon
CEO of JPMorgan Chase
Jamie Dimon
  • 2007 Bocaue Fire. Seven people injured when a fire razed several fireworks stores in the Municipality of Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines.
  • 2007 The Massive Big Dig construction project in Boston, Massachusetts ends.
  • 2014 36 die and 47 are wounded during a stampede of New Year revellers on Shanghai's Bund riverfront

Electoral defeatElection of Interest

2014 Beji Caid Essebsi is sworn in as Tunisia's 1st ever freely elected President

President of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi
President of Tunisia
Beji Caid Essebsi
  • 2015 US law enforcement kills 1,134 in 2015, young black men 9x more likely to be victims

AppointmentAppointment of Interest

2016 Chris Ofili is appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to art

Painter Chris Ofili
Chris Ofili
  • 2017 Bus crash at Migaa near Molo, central Kenya, kills at least 30
  • 2017 Ban on ivory trade in China comes into effect
  • 2018 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wins third term in Bangladesh elections with 17 people killed in violent clashes
  • 2019 Iraqi militiamen and protesters breach the outer wall of the US embassy in Baghdad following US airstrikes against Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, on December 29
  • 2020 WHO grants the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine emergency authorization, paving the way for worldwide distribution