This Day in History: January
01: January 11, 49 BC: Julius Caesar Crosses the Rubicon
Julius Caesar was known as a decisive general. When he chose to step forward, cross the Rubicon, and march on Rome with nothing but a single legion, this was one of the riskiest decisions in military history. Ultimately it resulted in the end of the Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.
02: January 15, 1929: Martin Luther King Jr. Is Born
January 15, 1929: Martin Luther King Jr. is born. From this tiny beginning came huge change. Follow his footsteps through his involvement with the NAACP and the tremendous impact Ida B. Wells had on his leadership within the civil rights movement.
03: January 15, 1559: Elizabeth I Is Crowned Queen of England
Get to know Queen Elizabeth I, who turned a country ripe with religious and political turmoil into a golden age of English history.
04: January 19, 1809: Edgar Allan Poe Is Born
Get to know Edgar Allen Poe and discover how his writing influenced a wide range of writers and literary genres.
05: January 6, 1066: Harold Godwinson Seizes England’s Throne
Professor Jennifer Paxton uncovers the drama and controversy behind the crowning of Lord Harold Godwinson in 1066. She’ll provide insights and context for this pivotal moment—just one of many that made that year so momentous.
06: January 13, 532: The Nika Riots Erupt in Constantinople
Join esteemed history professor Joyce E. Salisbury to recount the dramatic details of the Nika Riots in Constantinople.
07: January 20, 1945: FDR Begins a Fourth Term
Take a deeper look at the short but meaningful impact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had in his last days as president of the United States.
08: January 10, 1776: Thomas Paine Publishes "Common Sense"
Examine whether one little pamphlet written by an impoverished, immigrant corset-maker, and published this day in history—January 10, 1776—started the American Revolution. Understand why Tom Paine’s "Common Sense" is credited with catalyzing a mass movement focused keenly on the cause of independence.
09: January 23, 1943: "Casablanca" Is Released
Join screenwriting professor Angus Fletcher to better understand why "Casablanca" made such a strong impact on American audiences, and still does. Explore why the cognitive effect of the last scene was so important—concluding with Rick strolling off into a heavy mist with his unethical counterpart Renault, affirming the start of a new friendship.
10: January 1, 1818: "Frankenstein" Is Published
Few could have guessed that a horror story written by a teenage girl would become a powerful myth with global impact, but that is exactly what Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein did. Travel back to 1816, the “year without a summer,” to trace the origins and influence of this iconic novel as an exploration of philosophy, science, and the eternal human battle with mortality.
11: January 23, 1368: The Ming Dynasty Is Founded
In the wake of Mongol destruction, China’s Ming dynasty emerged as a deeply conservative society dedicated to maintaining stability and tradition. These were peaceful—yet economically stagnant—years marked by problems such as piracy, an inept and disinterested government, famines, and rebellions.