Today In History Spotlights Dec. 31, 1600, British East India Company Is Chartered

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Today’s History Spotlight

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The British East India Company is chartered. Founded by John Watts and George White, its purpose was to establish trade in the Indian Ocean. The company eventually colonized India, as well as parts of China and a large portion of Southeast Asia.

Trade items included spices, cotton, rice, and indigo dye. In 1857, the Indian Mutiny began, in which thousands of Indians rose in opposition to the British Crown’s rule over the country. The rebellion ended in a British victory on November 1, 1858. The BEIC was considered defunct by June 1, 1874.

What Happened On This Day – December 31

  • 2009 Both a Blue Moon and lunar eclipse occured on the same day. The next such event to happen on New Year’s eve will be in 2028.
  • 1994 Date skipped in Kiribati. The Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands in Kiribati skip December 31st due to a change in their time zone from UTC−11:00 to UTC+13:00 and UTC−10:00 to UTC+14:00, respectively.
  • 1983 Coup in Nigeria. A military coup in Nigeria overthrew the civilian government of Shehu Shagari and installed Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari.
  • 1909 Manhattan Bridge opens for traffic. The Manhattan Bridge, one of the first suspension bridges ever constructed, was opened to traffic on this day. The bridge was designed by Leon Moisseiff and crosses the East River in New York City.
  • 1907 The first annual ball drop at Times Square. The annual tradition of dropping a ball at 11:59 pm to mark the start of the New Year was organized for the first time by Adolph Ochs, the owner of the New York Times.

Births On This Day – December 31

  • 1990 Patrick Chan – Canadian figure skater
  • 1980 Richie McCaw – New Zealand rugby union footballer
  • 1977 Psy – South Korean singer-songwriter, rapper, producer, dancer
  • 1941 Alex Ferguson – Scottish footballer, manager
  • 1869 Henri Matisse – French painter

Deaths On This Day – December 31

  • 2015 Natalie Cole – American singer-songwriter, actress
  • 1985 Ricky Nelson – American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor
  • 1980 Marshall McLuhan – Canadian author, theorist
  • 1972 Roberto Clemente – Puerto Rican baseball player
  • 1889 Ion Creangă – Romanian author, educator

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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