On This Day … 26 January


  • 1564 – The Grand Duchy of Lithuania defeats the Tsardom of Russia in the Battle of Ula during the Livonian War.
  • 1699 – For the first time, the Ottoman Empire permanently cedes territory to the Christian powers.
  • 1788 – The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sails into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on Australia. Commemorated as Australia Day.
  • 1808 – The Rum Rebellion is the only successful (albeit short-lived) armed takeover of the government in New South Wales, Australia.
  • 1841 – James Bremer takes formal possession of Hong Kong Island at what is now Possession Point, establishing British Hong Kong.
  • 1855 – Point No Point Treaty is signed in Washington Territory.
  • 1856 – First Battle of Seattle: Marines from the USS Decatur drive off American Indian attackers after all-day battle with settlers.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: The state of Louisiana secedes from the Union.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: General Ambrose Burnside is relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac after the disastrous Fredericksburg campaign.
    • He is replaced by Joseph Hooker.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: Governor of Massachusetts John Albion Andrew receives permission from the Secretary of War to raise a militia organisation for men of African descent.
  • 1870 – Reconstruction Era: Virginia is readmitted to the Union.
  • 1885 – Troops loyal to The Mahdi conquer Khartoum, killing the Governor-General Charles George Gordon.
  • 1918 – Finnish Civil War: A group of Red Guards hangs a red lantern atop the tower of Helsinki Workers’ Hall to symbolically mark the start of the war.
  • 1926 – The first demonstration of the television by John Logie Baird.
  • 1930 – The Indian National Congress declares 26 January as Independence Day or as the day for Poorna Swaraj (“Complete Independence”) which occurred 17 years later.
  • 1934 – German-Polish declaration of non-aggression is signed.
  • 1939 – Spanish Civil War: Catalonia Offensive: Troops loyal to nationalist General Francisco Franco and aided by Italy take Barcelona.
  • 1942 – World War II: The first United States forces arrive in Europe, landing in Northern Ireland.
  • 1945 – World War II: Audie Murphy displays valour and bravery in action for which he will later be awarded the Medal of Honour.
  • 1950 – The Constitution of India comes into force, forming a republic.
    • Rajendra Prasad is sworn in as the first President of India.
    • Observed as Republic Day in India.
  • 1956 – Soviet Union cedes Porkkala back to Finland.
  • 1986 – The Ugandan government of Tito Okello is overthrown by the National Resistance Army, led by Yoweri Museveni.
  • 1991 – Mohamed Siad Barre is removed from power in Somalia, ending centralized government, and is succeeded by Ali Mahdi.
  • 2015 – Syrian civil war: The People’s Protection Units (YPG) recaptures the city of Kobanî from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), marking a turning point in the Siege of Kobanî.

People (Births)

  • 1436 – Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset, Lancastrian military commander (d. 1464).
  • 1716 – George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville, English general and politician, Secretary of State for the Colonies (d. 1785).
  • 1880 – Douglas MacArthur, American general, Medal of Honour recipient (d. 1964).
  • 1887 – Marc Mitscher, American admiral and pilot (d. 1947).
  • 1917 – Louis Zamperini, American runner and captain (d. 2014).
  • 1937 – Joseph Saidu Momoh, Sierra Leonean soldier and politician, 2nd President of Sierra Leone (d. 2003).
  • 1981 – Juan José Haedo, Argentinian cyclist.
  • 1984 – Luo Xuejuan, Chinese swimmer.
  • 1990 – Peter Sagan, Slovak professional cyclist.

People (Deaths)

  • 1744 – Ludwig Andreas von Khevenhüller, Austrian field marshal (b. 1683).
  • 1799 – Gabriel Christie, Scottish general (b. 1722).
  • 1869 – Duncan Gordon Boyes, English soldier; Victoria Cross recipient (b. 1846).
  • 1885 – Charles George Gordon, English general and politician (b. 1833).
  • 1886 – David Rice Atchison, American general and politician (b. 1807).
  • 1891 – Nicolaus Otto, German engineer, invented the Internal combustion engine (b. 1833).
  • 1893 – Abner Doubleday, American general (b. 1819).
  • 1948 – Kâzım Karabekir, Turkish general and politician, 5th Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (b. 1882).
  • 1952 – Khorloogiin Choibalsan, Mongolian general and politician, 12th Prime Minister of Mongolia (b. 1895).
  • 2016 – Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, Pakistani military leader, foreign minister, and diplomat (b. 1920).
  • 2017 – Barbara Howard, Canadian sprinter and educator (b. 1920).

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