Today In History, 23 January

Today is 23 January, another apparently ordinary and mundane day in January. However, 23rd January is a defining day in world history.

Keep reading to find out what major events happened on this day (Jan. 23) in sports, politics and art, along with famous birthdays and deaths in world history.

Historical Events On This Day

  • In 1571, the Royal Exchange in London was opened by Queen Elizabeth I.
  • In 1656, French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal published the first of his Lettres provinciales, about the controversy between the Jansenists and the Jesuits.
  • In 1789, Georgetown College, the first Catholic university in the United States, was founded in Washington DC.
  • In 1795, the French cavalry captured 14 Dutch ships and 850 guns, in a rare occurrence of a battle between ships and cavalry, in the War for the First Coalition in Zuiderzee.
  • In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman in the US to earn a medical degree after graduating from New York’s Geneva Medical College.
  • In 1945, Nazi naval commander Karl Donitz launched Operation Hannibal to evacuate over 2 million German soldiers and civilians from Prussia by sea.
  • In 1957, Fred Morrison sold the rights to his flying disc to the toy company Wham-O, which later named it frisbee.
  • In 1957, Indian nationalist politician and diplomat V.K. Krishna Menon gave the longest speech (8 hours) in the history of the UN, defending India’s stance on Kashmir.
  • In 1978, Sweden became the first country to ban aerosol sprays linked to damage to the earth’s ozone layer.
  • In 1996, the first version of the Java computer programming language was released.
  • In 2002, American journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan and later gruesomely beheaded.
  • In 2020, China locks down the 9 million-populated city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sports Events Today

  • In 1983, Swedish tennis legend Bjorn Borg announced his retirement at the age of 26.
  • In 2018, American basketball player LeBron James became the youngest NBA player to reach the 30,000-point milestone.

Art and Culture Events Today

  • In 1943, American musician and jazz icon Duke Ellington delivered his first performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
  • In 1977, the television adaptation of Alex Haley’s best-selling novel, Roots, based on the author’s African-American lineage, debuted on ABC to high ratings and critical acclaim.
  • In 1986, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley were among the inductees to the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Notable Deaths On This Day

Sr NoDeath YearPersonality
11931Anna Pavlova, Russian dancer and one of the most famous ballerina of all time
21981Samuel Barber, American composer, pianist, conductor and educator who is considered the greatest composers of the 20th century
31989Salvador Dali, Spanish surrealist artist known for his flamboyant persona and iconic mustache, who made the famous painting “The Persistence of Memory”
42005Johnny Carson, American television host, comedian and writer who hosted the popular The Tonight Show
52015Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia from 2005 to 2015, known for bringing economic, liberal and military reforms in the country
62021Larry King, one of the most famous television hosts in history

Famous Birthdays On This Day

Sr NoBirth YearPersonality
11737John Hancock, American Founding Father and the first governor of Massachusetts
21897Subash Chandra Bose, Indian freedom fighter and revolutionary leader who sought independence from the British through violence and led the Indian National Army with Japanese and German help in the 1940s
31926Bal Thackeray, Indian politician, journalist and cartoonist who founded the right-wing pro-Marathi and pro-Hindu party Shiv Sena
41944Rutger Hauer, acclaimed Dutch actor who rose to prominence through his sympathetic antagonist in Blade Runner
51975Tito Ortiz, American martial artist and politician who competed in the UFC and later became the temporary mayor of Huntington Beach
61984Arjen Robben, Dutch footballer who is considered one of the best wingers of the generation and scored 170 goals in his career
71986Michael Stevens, American educator and entertainer who created and hosts the popular YouTube education channel Vsauce
81988XXXTentacion, American rapper known for his controversial persona and versatile music