World Facts

What Happened On January 1st Of...?

Many major shifts of power have occurred on the first day of January through history.

Most people associate January 1st with New Year’s Day, the first day of the upcoming 365-day year. This date has been celebrated as New Year’s Day since 45 BC with the implementation of the Julian calendar in the Roman Empire, but not as it is celebrated today. It has continued to be the first day of the year since the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar. But, that holiday is not the only important thing to have occurred on January 1st. This article takes a look at some of the significant historical events of January 1st.

Important Historical Events of January 1

In 1515, on January 1st, Francis I became the King of France. His reign was of particular importance to the country particularly because of his continued support of the Renaissance movement. He was a patron of many great artists, including Leonardo da Vinci. Under his reign, the French kings’ art collection began to grow. Today, it is on display at the Louvre Museum. In addition, he contributed to the royal library and commissioned several architectural projects.

Haiti, on the 1st of January in 1804, won its independence from France. This change made Haiti the first country to earn independence by a successful slave revolt and result in a non-white rule. It was also the second country to win independence in the Americas, after the US. The revolution was influential to the entire practice of slavery throughout the Western Hemisphere. What was once the widely accepted belief that Africans were an inferior race was suddenly questioned.

Fifty-nine years after the independence of Haiti, the Emancipation Proclamation became law. Abraham Lincoln signed this new executive order on January 1, 1863, changing the legal status of over 3 million slaves to free people. Unfortunately, this proclamation did not take effect immediately, was only intended for the southern states during the Civil War, and therefore, did not free all slaves in the country. If a slave could escape Confederate-ruled states and reach a Union-controlled area, he or she would be free. It allowed for prior slaves to be employed by the US military. The Emancipation Proclamation did not, however, make slavery illegal nor give citizenship to newly freed slaves.

On January 1, 1958, the European Economic Community was established. Its objective was to create an integrated economy among its member states. The first member states were: France, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and West Germany. This integration included a shared market, customs union, and several specialized communities (the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Atomic Community, specifically). It became the basis and model for the European Union (EU) and in 2009, was incorporated into the EU.

A more comprehensive list of important January 1st event is published below.

A New Beginning

Remembering the history of this date and the many changes it has initiated throughout world history is critical for understanding, respecting, and memorializing the past. Because January 1st represents a new beginning and a chance to start over, it will continue to be chosen for celebrating important events in the future. It will be interesting to see what changes and celebrations will occur on future January 1st dates.

Notable Historical Events Occurring on January 1stYear
January 1st becomes the first day of the year on the new Julian Calendar in the Roman Empire.45 BC
Francis I becomes King of France.1515 AD
Traveler's checks appear for the first time in London, ready to be used by Brits headed to Europe.1772 AD
Haiti becomes independent from France as the first "black republic".1804
Incoming slaves no longer legally allowed to be received into the United States.1808
The Emancipation Proclamation comes into force.1863
Ellis Island begins receiving immigrants into the United States.1892
The European Economic Community is effectively established.1958
Forces led by Fidel Castro overthrow Fulgencio Batista in Cuba.1959
The Euro begins to be used as a common currency across much of the European Union.1999

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