Today in History

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 26, 2018

Today is Friday, Jan. 26, the 26th day of 2018. There are 339 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 26, 1788, the first European settlers in Australia, led by Capt. Arthur Phillip, landed in present-day Sydney.

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On this date:

In 1531, a major earthquake struck Lisbon in the Kingdom of Portugal, followed by a tsunami and several strong aftershocks; an estimated 30,000 people died.

In 1784, in a letter to his daughter Sarah, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the choice of the bald eagle as the symbol of America, and stated his own preference: the turkey.

In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state.

In 1870, Virginia rejoined the Union.

In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Rocky Mountain National Park Act, which created America’s 10th national park.

In 1942, the first American Expeditionary Force to head 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.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton forcefully denied having an affair with a former White House intern, telling reporters, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

Ten years ago: Barack Obama routed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic primary. Maria Sharapova won the Australian Open, beating Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 6-3 for her third Grand Slam singles title. Mirai Nagasu, at 14, became the second-youngest female (after Tara Lipinski) to win the ladies’ title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships held in St. Paul, Minnesota. Christian Brando, the troubled eldest son of the late actor Marlon Brando, died in Los Angeles at age 49. Radical PLO leader George Habash died in Amman, Jordan, at age 81.

Five years ago: Thousands of people, many holding signs with names of gun violence victims, joined a rally in Washington, D.C. for gun control. Victoria Azarenka won her second consecutive Australian Open title, beating Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Ashley Wagner became the first woman since Michelle Kwan in 2005 to win back-to-back titles in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, holding off up-and-comer Gracie Gold in Omaha, Nebraska.

One year ago: Tensions flared between President Donald Trump and Mexico, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto scrapping a planned visit to Washington and the White House threatening a 20 percent tax on imports to pay for Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border. Actor Mike Connors, 91, who starred as TV’s hard-hitting private eye “Mannix,” died in Los Angeles. Actress Barbara Hale, 94, who played steadfast secretary Della Street on “Perry Mason,” died at her home in Sherman Oaks, California.

Today’s Birthdays: Cartoonist Jules Feiffer is 89. Sportscaster-actor Bob Uecker is 83. Actor Scott Glenn is 79. Singer Jean Knight is 75. Activist Angela Davis is 74. Actor Richard Portnow is 71. Rock musician Corky Laing (Mountain) is 70. Actor David Strathairn (streh-THEHRN’) is 69. Producer-director Mimi Leder is 66. Alt-country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams is 65. Rock singer-musician Eddie Van Halen is 63. Reggae musician Norman Hassan (UB40) is 60. Actress-comedian-talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is 60. Rock musician Charlie Gillingham (Counting Crows) is 58. Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky is 57. Musician Andrew Ridgeley is 55. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jazzie B. (Soul II Soul) is 55. Actor Paul Johansson is 54. Director Lenny Abrahamson is 52. Actor Bryan Callen is 51. Gospel singer Kirk Franklin is 48. Actor Nate Mooney is 46. Actress Jennifer Crystal is 45. Rock musician Chris Hesse (Hoobastank) is 44. Actor Gilles Marini (ZHEEL ma-REE’-nee) is 42. Gospel singer Tye Tribbett is 42. NBA player Vince Carter is 41. Actress Sarah Rue is 40. Actor Colin O’Donoghue is 37. Country musician Michael Martin (Marshall Dyllon) is 35.