January 4th, 1809
In the small town of Coupvray in France, Louis Braille was born. At the age of five, he was blinded in an accident. As a school student, he invented a revolutionary form of communication – a system of reading and writing used by people who are blind or visually impaired – that transformed the lives of millions of individuals.
Till now, the Braille system remains an invaluable mean of communication for the blind, and it has been adapted all over the world.
January 4th, 1896
Originally, Utah was not a State but a territory: it was created as part of the Compromise of 1850, with Fillmore as the capital. It was given the name of Utah after the Ute tribe of Native Americans. Salt Lake City replaced Fillmore as the capital in 1856. The most influential community was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – commonly called the Mormon Church – whose members were known to practice polygamy. This latter aspect – more than any other consideration – has significantly delayed the admission of Utah as a State. Only after Mormon abandonment of polygamy (officially sanctioned in their 1890 Manifesto) and after the polygamy ban was written in its Constitution, Utah’s application for statehood was accepted and officially granted on January 4th, 1896. Utah was the 45th State to join.
January 4th, 1948
Burma became an independent state, no longer under British domination. This followed the liberation from Japanese occupation in 1943.
Since then, this country has undergone quite a few changes: it is now the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
January 4th, 1974
US President Richard Nixon received a subpoena requiring him to show tapes regarding a 1972 burglary at the Democratic National Headquarters located in the Watergate complex. This case will be world-wide known as “Watergate” and will lead to Nixon’s impeachment and destitution.
January 4th, 1932
British East Indies Viceroy Freeman Freeman-Thomas, First Marquess of Willingdon, arrests Gandhi: it was the fifth time for Gandhi. According to Sankar Ghose in his Mahatma Gandhi, it was the negotiations conducted while the Viceroy was Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, First Earl of Halifax – known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and as The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944 –
“(….) that had lowered British prestige and boosted up Gandhi. (….) So Willingdon decided that Gandhi should be arrested at once, Congress organisations outlawed and the press muzzled. In January 1932 itself the number of persons arrested were 14,800 and the number for the next month rose to 17,800. Between January 1932 and March 1933 as many as 1,200,000 people were arrested, which was bait 30,000 more than the total number of arrests made during the first civil disobedience movement of 1930-31.”
January 4th, 1958
As already described in this other post, the first object dropped into space was a 58cm-diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennae: Sputnik-1(Спутник-1). It was launched on October 4th 1957. The radio signals it was transmitting continued until it ran out of batteries on October 26th 1957. Sputnik-1 burned up while falling from orbit on January 4th 1958.
January 4th, 1960
European Free Trade Association (EFTA) formed in Stockholm, as an association of Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and UK. Finland became an associate member in 1961 and a full member in 1986. Iceland joined in 1970.
Then, UK and Denmark joined the EEC (to become later the EU) in 1973, hence ceasing to be part of EFTA. The same thing did Portugal in 1986. Liechtenstein joined in 1991. Austria, Sweden and Finland joined the EU in 1995 and hence leaving EFTA.
So, now EFTA is the association of four countries: Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
January 4th, 1981
The Broadway show Frankenstein opened and closed on the same night, producing a financial loss of about 2 millions dollars.
As reported by Frankensteinia blog, New York Times’ Frank Rich commented that:
We feel nothing except the disappointment that comes from witnessing an evening of misspent energy. “Frankenstein” may be the last word in contemporary theatrical technology, but its modern inventions are nothing without the alchemy of plain, old-fashioned drama.
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