American History in January (Part 1): A Brand New Year

  • Post category:History

Battle of New Orleans, Emancipation Proclamation, Casablanca Conference and More

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January is a time when people from all walks of life gather to celebrate the ushering in of a new year. With the next decade on the horizon, many have been looking back to the 1920s; a time when America witnessed flappers, alcohol prohibition, speakeasies, “Tommy guns,” and tailored suits. While the 1920s are certainly an interesting time to reflect upon, there are also many other significant events throughout American history that occur during the month of January.

The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Battle of New Orleans, and the publishing of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, “Common Sense,” all occur during this month. Several major events from World War II are also seen in January, including the Casablanca Conference, the Bataan Death March, and the uncovering of the largest spy ring in US history. I hope you enjoy taking a walk down America’s memory lane as we enter the new decade.

American History in January: The Birth of Freedom and the Death of a Spy Ring

January 1, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation. Though Lincoln’s original goal at the outset of the Civil War was the preservation of the union, he soon saw the complete abolition of slavery as a means of achieving that goal. As the war’s early years progressed, he began to envision a new birth of freedom for the country.

Lincoln would turn the tide of the war not just to restoration of the union, but also freedom for African-Americans. Though the proclamation did not take immediate effect, as it only pertained to slavery in states that had seceded from the union, the document paved the way for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which Lincoln pushed for as the war neared its end.

January 2, 1942: The FBI obtains the conviction of 33 members of a German spy ring. Known as the Duquesne Spy Ring, the members each conducted their own mission of espionage against the United States. One member worked on an airline to inform the Germans when Allied ships crossed the Atlantic. Another sent letters that contained technical data on industry and the military. Headed by Frederick Joubert Duquesne, this was the largest case of espionage in US history. The 33 convicted members were sentenced to a total of 300 years in prison.

American History in January: From Cupertino California to the Bataan Peninsula

January 3, 1977: Apple Computer is incorporated. Founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple is considered one of the “Big Four” of the tech world, alongside Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Originally founded on April 1, 1976, it was incorporated on January 3, 1977, without Wayne, who had left and sold his share of the company. As of 2017, Apple is headquartered in Cupertino, California, at Apple Park.

January 4, 1944: Operation Carpetbagger begins. Under the command of General “Wild Bill” Donovan, US and British forces provided supplies and ammunition to Resistance fighters in France, Italy, and the Low Countries via airdrop. The flights were conducted on moonlit nights, for better protection of the operators and resistance fighters. Orchestrated by members of the OSS, the operators have been recognized as the ancestors of today’s Air Force Special Operations.

January 5, 1933: Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins. Located in San Francisco, California, it is considered one of the wonders of the modern world. Designed by Irving Morrow, the bridge is an American icon. Construction was completed on April 19, 1937. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest bridge in the world. In 1987, it was designated a California Historical Landmark, and in 1999, it became a San Francisco designated landmark.

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January 7, 1942: The Siege of Bataan Peninsula begins. This was the first Allied assault against the Japanese Empire following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, US and Filipino troops fought to prevent the Japanese from occupying the Philippines. The outcome was a Japanese victory, resulting in the temporary Japanese occupation of the Philippines and the devastating Bataan Death March. Toward the end of World War II, following an American victory in the Philippines, MacArthur would return to the region to supervise reconstruction.

The Battle of New Orleans, The Casablanca Conference and the Dedication of the Pentagon

January 8, 1815: The Battle of New Orleans is fought. Though the War of 1812 had received a formal end, word had not reached American and British troops in southern Louisiana. Commanded by General Andrew Jackson, US forces won a major victory against the British, securing an effective end to the war’s fighting. This is largely where Jackson gained fame as a successful military leader, and he would go on to be admired for his leadership by both Democrats and Republicans alike. Jackson later served as one of the most controversial presidents in US history from 1829-1837.

January 10, 1776: Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, “Common Sense,” is published. Born in Norfolk, England, Paine was a leading figure during the Era of Enlightenment. His pamphlet became a sensation, and it challenged the American people to fight for an egalitarian government. A Classical Liberal, Paine engaged in debate with his conservative counterpart, Edmund Burke, and often criticized Christianity. Regarding “Common Sense,” John Adams stated, “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”

January 14, 1943: The Casablanca Conference begins. At the Anfa Hotel in Morocco, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met to discuss unconditional surrender for Axis forces, as well as procedure and policy. Also present were Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud, representing Free French forces. Due to the Siege of Stalingrad, Joseph Stalin chose not to not attend. Two outcomes of the conference were the decision to begin an Allied invasion of Italy, and Churchill’s pledge to offer more British troops to the Pacific theater.

January 15, 1943: The Pentagon is dedicated in Arlington, Virginia. Designed by George Bergstrom, it is the headquarters for the US Department of Defense, and is located across the Potomac River from Washington DC. The Pentagon is also one of the world’s largest office buildings. It was struck by American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11, 2001, exactly 60 years following the start of the building’s construction, killing 189 people. The Pentagon is a National Historic Landmark and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stay tuned to New Right Network for more American History in January!

Garrett Smith
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