Highlight in History
On Jan. 26, 1784, in a letter to his daughter Sarah (also called “Sally”), Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the choice of the bald eagle as the symbol of America, and stated his own preference: the turkey, calling it “a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America.”
On this date
In 1788, the first European settlers in Australia, led by Capt. Arthur Phillip, landed in present-day Sydney.
In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state.
In 1870, Virginia rejoined the Union.
In 1934, the 125th Street Apollo Theater opened in New York City’s Harlem district.
In 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, rebel forces led by Gen. Francisco Franco captured Barcelona. Principal photography began for David O. Selznick’s movie version of “Gone with the Wind.”
In 1942, the first American Expeditionary Force soldiers to go to Europe during World War II arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In 1950, India officially proclaimed itself a republic as Rajendra Prasad took the oath of office as president.
In 1962, the United States launched Ranger 3 to land scientific instruments on the moon — but the probe ended up missing its target by more than 22,000 miles.
In 1979, former Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller died in New York at age 70.
In 1988, Australians celebrated the 200th anniversary of their country as a grand parade of tall ships re-enacted the voyage of the first European settlers. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Phantom of the Opera” opened at Broadway’s Majestic Theater.
In 1993, Vaclav Havel was elected president of the newly formed Czech Republic.
Ten years ago
The Bush administration retreated from its once-confident claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Democrats swiftly sought to turn the about-face into an election-year issue. Lionel Tate, the Florida teen who’d killed a six-year-old playmate and became the youngest defendant in the nation to be locked away for life, was released after three years behind bars. (Tate is currently serving 30 years in prison for robbing a pizza delivery man in 2005, a crime which violated his probation in the murder case.) At least 16 people were killed in the collapse of a building in Nasr City, Egypt.