On This Day … 19 January


  • 379 – Emperor Gratian elevates Flavius Theodosius at Sirmium to Augustus, and gives him authority over all the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire.
  • 649 – Conquest of Kucha: The forces of Kucha surrender after a forty-day siege led by Tang dynasty general Ashina She’er, establishing Tang control over the northern Tarim Basin in Xinjiang.
  • 1419 – Hundred Years’ War: Rouen surrenders to Henry V of England, completing his reconquest of Normandy.
  • 1511 – The Italian city-fortress of Mirandola surrenders to the French.
  • 1520 – Sten Sture the Younger, the Regent of Sweden, is mortally wounded at the Battle of Bogesund and dies on 03 February.
  • 1764 – Bolle Willum Luxdorph records in his diary that a mail bomb, possibly the world’s first, has severely injured the Danish Colonel Poulsen, residing at Børglum Abbey.
  • 1788 – The second group of ships of the First Fleet arrive at Botany Bay.
  • 1795 – The Batavian Republic is proclaimed in the Netherlands, bringing to an end the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.
  • 1806 – Britain occupies the Dutch Cape Colony after the Battle of Blaauwberg.
  • 1817 – An army of 5,423 soldiers, led by General José de San Martín, crosses the Andes from Argentina to liberate Chile and then Peru.
  • 1839 – The British East India Company captures Aden.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: Georgia joins South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama in declaring secession from the United States.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Mill Springs: The Confederacy suffers its first significant defeat in the conflict.
  • 1871 – Franco-Prussian War: In the Siege of Paris, Prussia wins the Battle of St. Quentin. Meanwhile, the French attempt to break the siege in the Battle of Buzenval will end unsuccessfully the following day.
  • 1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.
  • 1899 – Anglo-Egyptian Sudan is formed.
  • 1915 – Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube for use in advertising.
  • 1915 – German strategic bombing during World War I: German zeppelins bomb the towns of Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn in the United Kingdom killing at least 20 people, in the first major aerial bombardment of a civilian target.
  • 1917 – Silvertown explosion: A blast at a munitions factory in London kills 73 and injures over 400. The resulting fire causes over £2,000,000 worth of damage.
  • 1920 – The United States Senate votes against joining the League of Nations.
  • 1940 – You Nazty Spy!, the first Hollywood film of any kind to satirize Adolf Hitler and the Nazis premieres, starring The Three Stooges, with Moe Howard as the character “Moe Hailstone” satirizing Hitler.
  • 1941 – World War II: HMS Greyhound and other escorts of convoy AS-12 sink Italian submarine Neghelli with all hands 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Falkonera.
  • 1942 – World War II: The Japanese conquest of Burma begins.
  • 1945 – World War II: Soviet forces liberate the Łódź Ghetto. Of more than 200,000 inhabitants in 1940, less than 900 had survived the Nazi occupation.
  • 1946 – General Douglas MacArthur establishes the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo to try Japanese war criminals.
  • 1960 – Japan and the United States sign the US–Japan Mutual Security Treaty
  • 1969 – Student Jan Palach dies after setting himself on fire three days earlier in Prague’s Wenceslas Square to protest about the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union in 1968. His funeral turns into another major protest.
  • 1974 – China gains control over all the Paracel Islands after a military engagement between the naval forces of China and South Vietnam
  • 1977 – President Gerald Ford pardons Iva Toguri D’Aquino (a.k.a. “Tokyo Rose”).
  • 1978 – The last Volkswagen Beetle made in Germany leaves VW’s plant in Emden. Beetle production in Latin America continues until 2003.
  • 1981 – Iran hostage crisis: United States and Iranian officials sign an agreement to release 52 American hostages after 14 months of captivity.
  • 1983 – Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie is arrested in Bolivia.
  • 1991 – Gulf War: Iraq fires a second Scud missile into Israel, causing 15 injuries.
  • 1999 – British Aerospace agrees to acquire the defence subsidiary of the General Electric Company plc, forming BAE Systems in November 1999.
  • 2014 – A bomb attack on an army convoy in the city of Bannu kills at least 26 Pakistani soldiers and injures 38 others.
  • Confederate Heroes Day (Texas), and its related observance:
    • Robert E. Lee Day (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi).

People (Births)

  • 1752 – James Morris III, American captain (d. 1820).
  • 1788 – Pavel Kiselyov, Russian general and politician (d. 1874).
  • 1807 – Robert E. Lee, American general and academic (d. 1870).
  • 1848 – Matthew Webb, English swimmer and diver (d. 1883).
  • 1879 – Boris Savinkov, Russian soldier and author (d. 1925).
  • 1936 – Ziaur Rahman, Bangladeshi general and politician, 7th President of Bangladesh (d. 1981).
  • 1970 – Kathleen Smet, Belgian triathlete.
  • 1973 – Yevgeny Sadovyi, Russian swimmer and coach.
  • 1985 – Pascal Behrenbruch, German decathlete.

People (Deaths)

  • 1661 – Thomas Venner, English rebel leader (b. 1599).
  • 1847 – Charles Bent, American soldier and politician, 1st Governor of New Mexico (b. 1799).
  • 1945 – Gustave Mesny, French general (b. 1886).
  • 1964 – Firmin Lambot, Belgian cyclist (b. 1886).
  • 1965 – Arnold Luhaäär, Estonian weightlifter (b. 1905).
  • 2006 – Geoff Rabone, New Zealand cricketer and World War II Lancaster bomber pilot (b. 1921).
  • 2014 – Christopher Chataway, English runner, journalist, and politician (b. 1931).

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