Today in 1661,Oliver Cromwell – aka Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England – was ritually executed after having been dead for two years. Basically, it was considered the ultimate insult. His corpse was hanged in chains and disinterred before being thrown into a pit. His severed head was displayed on a pole outside London’s Westminster Hall until 1685.
Today in 1797, Congress refused to accept the first anti-slavery petition, which had been filed by four African American men. Their aim? The men – Jacob Nicholson, Jupiter Nicholson, Joe Albert and Thomas Pritchet - had been freed by their owners in North Carolina over a decade earlier and had moved north to Philadelphia. They sought "redress of grievances," as guaranteed in the First Amendment (as in, they sought federal protection for all freed slaves from state laws allowing their capture and re-enslavement).
Today in 1835,the first attempt to assassinate a President was made. Unemployed house painter Richard Lawrencefired two shots at President Andrew Jackson, but missed. He spent the rest of his life in a mental institution.
Today in 1847,San Francisco got its name. Before then, the area had been called “Yerba Buena.”
Today in 1911,the first airplane rescue at sea was made by the Navy destroyer, ‘Terry.’Downedaviator J.A. Douglas McCurdy– who was the first Canadian to pilot an aircraft – had been forced to land in the ocean about 10 miles from Havana, Cuba.
Today in 1933,Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany.
Today in 1934,President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) devalued the US dollar in relation to gold at $35 per ounce –with the signing of the Gold Reserve Act.
Today in 1940,the first Social Security checks were first distributed. It was authorized as an aid to State administration of unemployment compensation laws, the assignment of Social Security accounts to employees of the age of 65 years old and over who were covered by the State unemployment compensation laws.
Today in 1948,Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse shot and killed Indian political andspiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi. Godse thought Gandhi favored the political demands of India's Muslims during the partition of India. While Gandhi’s sons had plead for his death sentence to be commuted to life in prison, their requests were denied. Godse was hanged November 15th, 1949.
Today in 1951,the TV show, "Buck Rogers,"last aired on ABC. A revamped version: “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” later arrived on the small screen in 1979 and ran until 1981.
Today in 1958,Yves Saint Laurent held his first major fashion show in Paris. He was 22.
Today in 1958,the first two-way moving sidewalk was put in service at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. The length of the walkway through the airport was 1,435-feet.
Today in 1962,two members of the "Flying Wallendas" high-wire act were killed when their seven-person pyramid collapsed during a performance in Detroit.
Today in 1964,the United States launched "Ranger Six,"an unmanned spacecraft carrying television cameras that was to crash-land on the moon. It did on February 2nd.
Today in 1972,the incident that inspired U2's "Sunday, Bloody Sunday"took place. British soldiers in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, shot more than a dozen Roman Catholic civil rights marchers.
Today in 1973,Gordon Liddy and James McCord were convicted of burglary, wire-tapping and attempted bugging of the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington, DC. McCord,who served four months, has lived a quiet life since. As for Liddy, he spent more than four-years in prison – and after his 1977 release he became a conservative talk-show host and military and weapons expert.
Today in 1977,the TV show, "Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries,"debuted on ABC.
Today in 1977,the eighth and final part of the "Roots" mini-series aired and at the time, it was the most-watched entertainment show ever as it pulled a 36.4 rating on ABC.
Today in 1981,two-million New Yorkers braved the cold for a ticker tape parade honoring the former hostages of Iran.
Today in 1987,calling it a "budget-buster," President Reagan vetoed a measure renewing the Clean Water Act as it was expected to cost up to $20-billion through 1994. Congress, however,overrode the veto.
Today in 1989,former criminal lawyer Joel Steinberg was convicted in New York of first-degree manslaughter in the death of his illegally adopted six-year-old daughter, Lisa. Heserved 17-years of his 25-year sentence– and was released in 2004. He remains unrepentant – and beyond maintaining his innocence,shows zero emotion for the child he murdered.
Today in 1990,a federal judge ordered former President Reagan to provide excerpts of his personal diaries to John M. Poindexter for the former national security adviser's upcoming Iran-Contra trial. However, the judge later reversed himself, deciding the material was not essential.
Today in 1994,Peter Leko became the world's youngest-ever grandmaster in chess. He was 14.
Today in 1998,the movies,"Zero Effect"(starring Bill Pullman) and“Great Expectations"(starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke) opened in theaters nationwide.
Today in 2000,Elian Gonzalez's grandmother returned home to a hero's welcome in Cuba, vowing to continue the struggle to wrest the six-year-old shipwreck survivor from relatives in Miami.
Today in 2000,the St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl 34, defeating the Tennessee Titans 23-to-16.
Today in 2002,in his first State of the Union address, President Bush focused on Iran, Iraq and North Korea. He charged that the three nations constitute "an axis of evil."
Today in 2002,Utah's Karl Malone became the third player in NBA history to register 34,000 career points by scoring 18 in a 90-78 win over Chicago at the Delta Center. He trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).
Today in 2003,“Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid was sentenced to life in prison for trying to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in his shoes in December 2001.He has since only expressed “tactical regrets,”but remains unrepentant about his actions.
Today in 2003,Belgium became the second country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage.
Today in 2013, the spy drama "The Americans" (starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys)premiered on FX.
Today in 2017,scientists in central China revealed the oldest known human ancestor– the 540-million-year-old Saccorhytus in a fossil.