India declared itself a republic. (1950) India became a democratic republic under Jawaharlal Nehru, the protege of Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi had campaigned for Indian freedom and democracy for over 30 years before he was assassinated in 1948. His legacy was clearly influential in India's becoming a republic.
Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz. (1945) The capture of Auschwitz was one of the first times that allied troops saw the atrocities committed in concentration camps. The Soviet troops found more than 7,000 starving survivors, and warehouses filled with hundreds of thousands of articles of clothing and personal items that had yet to be burned.
The first female presidential physician was appointed. (1961) US President Kennedy appointed Janet Travell as his personal physician, making her the first female presidential physician. It was later found that she prescribed over five painkillers to the president at one time, as well as a variety of sleep aids and orthopedic shoes.
The Rum Rebellion of 1808 occurred. (1808) Australia had only been founded as a penal colony two decades earlier before this first and only successful armed rebellion in Australia took place. William Bligh, known for being mutinied against on the HMS Bounty, was overthrown by rival military officers, who ruled Australia under martial law before a new governor arrived from England.
A whale exploded in Taiwan. (2004) A decomposing sperm whale exploded while in transport in Tainan City, Taiwan. The whale was being moved to a laboratory for study when a critical build-up of gas caused it to explode, covering people and shop fronts in Tainan City with offal. Though decomposing whales are regularly exploded with dynamite to clear beaches, it is thought to be the first time a whale exploded in a city.
General Franco captured Barcelona. (1939) The capture of Barcelona was a major point in the Spanish Civil War. Three months later, Franco would capture Madrid, killing over 1 million people and ending the war.
St. Petersburg became Leningrad. (1924) The city's name was changed in the hysteria following Lenin's death, which had occurred just three days earlier. It remained named Leningrad until the fall of the USSR in 1991, when it reverted to its old name of St. Petersburg.
Brazil was discovered. (1500) Vicente Yanez Pinzon, a former member of Christopher Columbus' expeditions, was the first European to set foot in Brazil. Despite the discovery, no settlements were made in Brazil until 30 years later.
The Union army began allowing African-American troops to serve. (1863) John Albion Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, received permission on this day to start recruiting African-American troops for a Union militia. He was the force behind the creation of the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the busiest units in the Civil War, which was also the first official African-American army unit in the US.
Maria von Trapp was born. (1905) Von Trapp was a singer in Austria before escaping to America. Her story later became famous in the movie The Sound of Music.