What Happened on January 17?

  • The United Nations Security Council held its first meeting. (1946) The Security Council is one of the main arms of the UN, and is often involved in international peacekeeping missions. Among the first actions taken by the Council were the condemnation of the Soviet presence in Iran, as well as the condemnation of dictator Franco's reign in Spain.

  • US President Eisenhower warned America about the growing influence of the military-industrial complex. (1961) This was a striking warning, coming from such a militarily-involved President. In his farewell address on this day Eisenhower also warned America about its consumerist habits, and urged Americans to look more to the future.

  • The first child was born in the White House. (1809) James Madison Randolph was born to Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Martha. Randolph was also Jefferson's first grandson, and the first of only about ten people to be born in the White House ever.

  • A group of American businessmen overthrew the monarchy of Hawaii. (1893) Queen Liliuokalani, the monarch of Hawaii, was overthrown by a group of sugar plantation owners who wanted a more pro-American government. The coup took place with the tacit approval of the United States, though the new leader of Hawaii, Sanford Dole, refused to step down when asked to do so by President Cleveland. Hawaii and the US finally resumed full diplomatic relations in 1897, under President McKinley.

  • The Great Brinks Robbery occurred (1950) The robbery took place in Boston, Massachusetts, when 11 men stole more than $2 million US Dollars (USD) from an armored Brinks truck. No one was hurt in the robbery, but virtually no clues were left behind. Eight of the 11 men were caught six years later, just days before the statute of limitations for prosecuting them for the crime would have expired.

  • The Papacy was moved from Avignon to Rome. (1377) The papacy had controversially been moved to Avignon in 1309 because of conflict between the French royalty and the Papacy. Pope Gregory XI was the last of the Avignon popes, and moved the papacy back to Rome shortly before his death. The move back to Rome ended the schism that had lasted for almost 80 years.

  • Ferdinand Marcos became "President for Life" in the Philippines. (1973) Marcos was known for his pilfering of the country's treasury to the extent that the Filipino government was still paying off debts incurred by Marcos more than 40 years later. His wife, Imelda Marcos, was also known for her extravagant shopping trips, and was said to own hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes at a time when most of the country was in poverty.

  • Soviet forces entered Warsaw. (1945) Warsaw had been occupied since the early days of World War II, and the Soviet invasion was seen as a great step forwards in liberating Europe. The USSR's welcome didn't last very long though, as Soviet soldiers watched German forces decimate the city without doing anything.

  • Captain James Cook became the first European to sail within the Antarctic Circle. (1773) Cook was a famous explorer in his day, and was also the first European to make contact with Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

  • The cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man first appeared in print. (1929) Best known for the magical strength he gets from eating spinach, Popeye, his girlfriend Olive Oyl, and his nemesis Bluto became beloved cartoon characters and have since appeared in multiple movies, cartoons and TV shows.

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