Jan. 17, 1524 – Giovanni da Verrazzano set sail westward from Madeira to find a sea route to the Pacific Ocean.
Jan. 17, 1706 – Prominent Freemason Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Mass. He was a printer, a scientist, an inventor, a writer, the founder of America's first lending library, and one of the Founding Fathers of America itself.
Jan. 17, 1773 - Captain James Cook's ship, the Resolution, became the first ship to cross the Antarctic Circle, and Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to sail below the Antarctic Circle.
Jan. 17, 1781 – During the American Revolutionary War’s Battle of Cowpens, Continental troops under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeated British forces under Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the battle in South Carolina. The British lost 110 men and more than 200 more were wounded, while an additional 500 were captured. The American losses totaled only 12 killed and 60 wounded in the first Patriot victory to demonstrate that the American forces could outfight a similar British force without any other factors—such as surprise or geography—to assist them.
Jan. 17, 1814 – Lt. Joseph Morgan Wilcox was buried at Fort Claiborne, two days after getting killed in a fight with Creek war party. Wilcox County, Ala. was named in his honor.
Jan. 17, 1820 – Anne Bronte, the youngest of the literary Bronte sisters, was born in Thornton, Yorkshire.
Jan. 17 1862 – During the Civil War, a demonstration by Federal Navy took place on the Tennessee River at Fort Henry, Tenn.
Jan. 17, 1863 – During the Civil War, the Federal Army of the Mississippi, under the command of political general Major General John McClernand was ordered by Major General Ulysses S. Grant to re-embark for Milliken’s Bend, La., above Vicksburg, Miss., after storming Arkansas Post, Ark. without proper authorization to do so. A five-day Federal operation between New Erne and Onslow, N.C., also began, with skirmishes taking place at White Oak Creek and near Jacksonville, N.C. Skirmishes were also fought near Newtown, Virginia and near Newtown, West Virginia.
Jan. 17, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Lewisburg and Brownsville, Ark.; at Chucky Road and Dandridge, Tenn.; and near Ely's Ford and near Ellis' Ford, Va.
Jan. 17, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Ivey's Ford, Ark.
Jan. 17, 1865 – During the Civil War, 10 days of heavy rain (the heaviest rainfall in 20 years) began in Savannah, Ga. Union General William T. Sherman's army waited 10 days before conducting a campaign against South Carolina. Sherman's army did not begin moving until the end of the month. When the army finally did move, it conducted a campaign against South Carolina that was worse than that against Georgia. Sherman wanted to exact revenge on the state that had led secession and started the war by firing on Fort Sumter.
Jan. 17, 1897 – The Jackson & Jernigan steam saw mill at Kempville in Monroe County, Ala. burned, causing a loss of several thousand dollars.
Jan. 17, 1906 – The home of Mr. and Mrs. E.E. Henderson at Drewry in Monroe County, Ala. burned down after a faulty stove flue ignited a fire while the family was eating breakfast. The house was one of the few antebellum homes remaining in the area. E.E. Henderson died a week later from typhoid fever.
Jan. 17, 1912 - English explorer Capt. Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole. Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten him there by one month. Scott and his party died during the return trip.
Jan. 17, 1914 – National Book Award-winning poet William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Jan. 17, 1916 - The mid-winter term of the Monroe County (Ala.) Law and Equity Court convened on on this Monday with Judge W.G. McCorvey presiding. “The court is grinding away on the civil docket this week, the number of cases, however, is not unusually large,” The Monroe Journal reported. “Few beside jurors, witnesses, court officials and parties litigant are in attendance.”
Jan. 17, 1917 – Confederate veteran Joseph R. Bass of Evergreen, Ala. passed away in Caddo Mills, Texas at the age of 79 and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery at Caddo Mills.
Jan. 17, 1944 - A radio version of Alabama author Octavus Roy Cohen's book “I Love You Again” was broadcast as part of “The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre” series.
Jan. 17, 1945 – The Nazis began the evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp as Soviet forces closed in.
Jan. 17, 1949 – In an incident attributed to the Bermuda Triangle, within 12 days before of the first anniversary of the disappearance of the Star Tiger, her sister ship, the Star Ariel, carrying a crew of seven and 13 passengers, disappeared between Bermuda and Kingston, Jamaica.
Jan. 17, 1950 - The second television version of Alabama author William March's story "The Little Wife" was broadcast.
Jan. 17, 1955 – James “Big Jim” Folsom began his second term as Alabama’s governor, replacing Gordon Persons. Folsom’s second term ended on Jan. 19, 1959, when he was succeeded by John Malcolm Patterson.
Jan. 17, 1959 – Early on this Saturday morning, Floyd Bennett Dees, 69, a “well known and much esteemed citizen” of Evergreen, Ala., was found dead a few hundred yards from his home on Rural Street. He’d been missing since mid-afternoon of the previous day and a search was made for him all through the night, but it wasn’t until around daylight that he was found by his grandson, Wayne Peacock. He was lying in a ditch not far from the highway and had apparently died several hours earlier from a heart attack.
Jan. 17, 1970 - The Doors played the first of several shows at the Felt Forum in New York City. The shows were recorded for use on their "Absolutely Live" album.
Jan. 17, 1971 – During the Vietnam War, led by South Vietnamese Lt. Gen. Do Cao Tri, and with U.S. air support and advisers, some 300 paratroopers raided a communist prisoner of war camp near the town of Mimot in Cambodia on information that 20 U.S. prisoners were being held there. They found the camp empty, but captured 30 enemy soldiers and sustained no casualties.
Jan. 17, 1972 - Roger Staubach and Bob Griese appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.
Jan. 17, 1972 – During the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon warned South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu in a private letter that his refusal to sign any negotiated peace agreement would render it impossible for the United States to continue assistance to South Vietnam. Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger had been working behind the scenes in secret negotiations with North Vietnamese representatives in Paris to reach a settlement to end the war. However, Thieu stubbornly refused to even discuss any peace proposal that recognized the Viet Cong as a viable participant in the post-war political solution in South Vietnam. As it turned out, the secret negotiations were not close to reaching an agreement because the North Vietnamese launched a massive invasion of South Vietnam in March 1972. With the help of U.S. airpower and advisers on the ground, the South Vietnamese withstood the North Vietnamese attack, and by December, Kissinger and North Vietnamese representatives were back in Paris and close to an agreement. Among Thieu’s demands was the request that all North Vietnamese troops had to be withdrawn from South Vietnam before he would agree to any peace settlement. The North Vietnamese walked out of the negotiations in protest. In response, President Nixon initiated Operation Linebacker II, a massive bombing campaign against Hanoi, to force the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table. After 11 days of intense bombing, Hanoi agreed to return to the talks in Paris. When Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the main North Vietnamese negotiator, met again in early January, they quickly worked out a settlement. The Paris Peace Accords were signed on January 23 and a cease-fire went into effect five days later. Again, President Thieu refused to sign the Accords, but Nixon promised to come to the aid of South Vietnam if the communists violated the terms of the peace treaty, and Thieu agreed to sign. Unfortunately for Thieu and the South Vietnamese, Nixon was forced from office by the Watergate scandal in August 1974, and no U.S. aid came when the North Vietnamese launched a general offensive in March 1975. South Vietnam succumbed in 55 days.
Jan. 17, 1980 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Sparta Academy placed three players on the Alabama Private Schools Association’s All-District III football team. Those players included Ronnie McKenize, Terry Peacock and Greg Crabtree.
Jan. 17, 1982 – On what is now known as "Cold Sunday," in numerous cities in the United States, temperatures fell to their lowest levels in over 100 years.
Jan. 17, 1983 - Alabama Gov. George C Wallace began serving his fourth and final term as Alabama’s governor. His term would end on Jan. 19, 1987.
Jan. 17, 1983 – A number of Conecuh County, Ala. public officials were administered their oaths of office and officially began serving their terms in office. Probate Judge Frank T. Salter began his fourth term in office. District Judge Sue A. Bell and Circuit Clerk Jean E. Ralls were beginning their first full terms in office. County commissioners beginning their first term in office included Percy Salter, Jerold Dean, C.W. Salter and Freddie Stallworth, who was the county’s first black commissioner. Coroner Danny Garnett was also beginning his first term in office.
Jan. 17, 1991 – Operation Desert Storm began early on this morning. Iraq fired eight Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation.
Jan. 17, 1994 – Weather reporter Harry Ellis reported 1.11 inches of rain in Evergreen, Ala.
Jan. 17, 1995 - The Los Angeles Rams announced that they would be moving to St. Louis.
Jan. 17, 1995 - Probate Judge Rogene Booker swore in retired state trooper Tom Hall as Conecuh County, Alabama’s new Sheriff on this Tuesday afternoon. Hall’s wife, Velois, held the Bible for the ceremony while his brother-in-law and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Milsted, looked on. Jeff T. Brock was sworn in as Conecuh County’s new District Judge. He was sworn in by his uncle, Evergreen City Judge Joe Nix. Jo Ann Harper was sworn in as Conecuh County’s new coroner. She was sworn in by Booker, and Libby Biggs held the Bible for the ceremony.
Jan. 17, 1995 - A ribbon-cutting was held on this Tuesday for ABC Computers, located at Colony Square Mall, in Evergreen, Ala. The new business was owned by Andy Gladwell.
Jan. 17, 1996 - Pink Floyd was officially inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Jan. 17, 1999 - The Atlanta Falcons beat the Minnesota Vikings to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in team history.