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What Happened on January 16?

  • The Persian Gulf War began. (1991) After the UN deadline for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait ran out at midnight, US and UK forces launched the first attacks on the morning of the 16th. The war lasted just over a month, and Kuwait itself was liberated in four days.

  • Prohibition began in the United States. (1919) The 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale and manufacture of alcohol within the US, was ratified on this day. Though it was intended to decrease alcohol-related crime in America, it actually helped organized crime flourish. The amendment was repealed four years later, and the movement was generally considered a failure.

  • The British Parliament outlawed Roman Catholicism. (1581) Heavily influenced by Elizabeth I, the parliament outlawed Catholicism throughout England. The move was popular at the time because Mary, Queen of Scots — Elizabeth I's predecessor — persecuted Protestants in an attempt to re-establish Catholicism in Britain.

  • The first book of "Don Quixote" was published in Madrid. (1605) Widely considered the first novel, Cervantes' Don Quixote was actually published in two volumes over the course of a decade. It is often credited as one of the most influential works of literature ever written.

  • Adolf Hitler moved into the Fuhrerbunker. (1945) He remained in the bunker for over 100 days before committing suicide. The shelter was fully self-sufficient, and was even the site of his wedding to Eva Braun. Shortly after the two were married in April, they committed suicide together.

  • Two USSR Soyuz spaceships became the first craft to dock and exchange personnel in space. (1969) The Soyuz program was one of the first series of manned space flights, and are still used for transport to and from the International Space Station.

  • The Columbia Space Shuttle took off on its last mission. (2003) The shuttle's last mission ended in tragedy when it disintegrated upon re-entry, killing all of the crew members. The disaster shocked the nation, and set the space shuttle program back.

  • The Shah of Iran fled Iran with his family. (1979) The last monarch of Iran, the Shah, was known for his controversial policies, which included holding some 2,000 political prisoners. He was eventually overthrown in a revolution which resulted in Iran becoming an Islamic Republic.

  • Architect, scientist and author, Buckminster Fuller received the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. (1970) Fuller was perhaps most known for developing the geodesic dome structure, which is now commonly used for military radar stations as well as the "Spaceship Earth" dome at Epcot.

  • The Medici family was established as the official bankers of the papacy. (1412) The Medici were an extremely politically influential family in Florence and Europe as a whole. They were also great patrons of the arts, and patronized Michelangelo, Donatello, and Leonardo da Vinci. The family remained close with the papacy for some centuries, sparking conspiracy theories as to the full extent of their power.
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