What Happened on January 4?

  • US President Nixon refused to hand over his tapes in the Watergate scandal. (1974) Despite being subpoenaed by a Senate committee, Nixon refused to hand over crucial tapes and documents. The fact that the Watergate incident reached the presidency rocked the nation, and Nixon resigned eight months later.

  • Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant. (1903) In an ongoing war against Westinghouse's alternating current, Edison tried many extreme stunts to prove that alternating current (AC) power was dangerous so people would use his direct current (DC) model. One of these stunts included electrocuting an elephant named Topsy who had killed three men. Topsy was scheduled to be hung, but the ASPCA protested, so Edison was allowed to electrocute her. He filmed the electrocution and distributed it as "proof" that using AC power was dangerous.

  • North Korean and Chinese forces captured Seoul. (1951) The UN forces had expected a quick end to the war, but that expectation was shattered when Chinese forces became involved. The capture of Seoul was a clear — and demoralizing — sign that the war wouldn't end any time soon.

  • The first successful appendectomy was performed in the US. (1885) Dr. William Grant performed the procedure on 22-year-old Mary Gartside, whose appendix had perforated. Gartside recovered with no ill side effects, and the medical community learned that the appendix was not necessary for living.

  • Firearms manufacturer Samuel Colt sold his first gun to the US government. (1847) Colt's business was failing before he landed a contract to provide 1,000 .44 caliber handguns to the government. Before this time, handguns weren't at all common in the US; most people used knives for close fighting. Colt's guns went on to become the symbol of cowboys and the West.

  • President Lyndon B. Johnson outlined his plans for the "Great Society". (1965) The speech played a large role in pulling America back together after the assassination of Kennedy. It outlined many social reform programs, including Medicare/Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act, and the National Endowment for the arts.

  • Columbus left the new world. (1493) Spanish explorer Columbus had been sailing around the Caribbean for about a year after he discovered Hispaniola (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic). During that time, he established several settlements and became the first European to observe many previously unseen cultures, plants, and animals.

  • Sir Edmund Hillary reached the South Pole. (1958) Hillary was the first overland explorer to reach the South Pole since Robert Scott did so in 1912.

  • GM announced that it would build an electric car. (1996) The EV1 debuted later that year, and more than 2,000 were produced before GM pulled the plug on the program in 2003, citing high production costs.

  • Utah was admitted to the Union. (1896) Though the territory had been governed by Americans for years, politicians were unwilling to let it become a state because of the widespread practice of polygamy among the large Mormon community there. Eventually Mormonism founder Brigham Young's successor renounced the practice of polygamy, and Utah became a state.

Discussion Comments


The first electric cars were being produced in the UK and Europe between 1828 and 1832. They gained popularity in the USA around 1899 especially among female drivers, as they weren't dirty, smelly or noisy vehicles. By 1912 a third of production cars in America were electric. The bullet point only stated that GM built it's first electric car in 1996, not the first electric car was produced.


Thomas Edison was crazy, but in the most brilliant way possible. I find it very funny that he was willing to electrocute elephants just to get his point across about his inventions and theories.

It really shows the lengths that some people are willing to go in order in order to show that their technology works. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, does anyone know if there were other scientists and inventors that were as extreme as him? Either way, it's very amusing when you think about it.

Sure it may seem a little extreme to some, but in my opinion, it really shows how much technology was advancing, and what some people have to go through in order to ensure that their inventions and theories are able to go through. I mean, after all, there's no progress without risks, risks?


Christoper Columbus made some interesting discoveries, but over the years, I've learned a lot more about him then I'd originally thought. A few years ago, in one of my college culture classes, my professor was teaching about him, and made note of several things that I wasn't taught about him in my grade school classes.

In spite of his interesting discoveries, the guy wasn't all that he was cracked up to be, which I actually found to be pretty funny. You mean to tell me that all these years, I've been believing a lie?

Not only was he a liar and a scoundrel, but he also managed to deceive many people, and even claimed some of their ideas.

The reason why this interests me so much, is because it really shows the difference between what we've learned in school, and the actual facts of history, which aren't sugarcoated at all. Sometimes, we don't find out the truth until later, and when we do, it's both amusing and shocking.


So, the electric car first began production as recent as 1996? The reason why I wonder this, is because I've always thought that cars had been around for much longer than that.

I mean after all, people were driving cars long before 1996, right? However, it's possible that before '96, not only were cars powered in a different way, but even more so, they were a lot more limited then they are now.

After all, don't forget that back in 1996, technology wasn't as advanced as it is in this day and age.

Based on this, I guess it's easy to assume that cars didn't have a lot of unneeded entertainment features, and were used a lot more for driving. In fact, now that you mention it, I do remember when I was a kid, cars certainly didn't have a lot of features back then that they did have now.

Overall, I think it really shows how far we've come in the realm of technology. Besides, who knows how advanced cars will be in the future.

Post your comments
Forgot password?