Jan. 9, 1324 – Italian merchant and explorer Marco Polo died at the age of 69 in Venice, Republic of Venice.
Jan. 9, 1431 – Judges' investigations for the trial of Joan of Arc began in Rouen, France, the seat of the English occupation government.
Jan. 9, 1493 - While sailing near the Dominican Republic, Christopher Columbus described seeing three "mermaids" who were "not half as beautiful as they are painted." In reality, he was actually observing manatees.
Jan. 9, 1643 - Giovanni Riccioli first reported the elusive phenomenon known as the Ashen Light of Venus, a faint luminescence on the night side of our sister planet.
Jan. 9, 1776 - Writer Thomas Paine published his 47-page pamphlet “Common Sense,” setting forth his arguments in favor of American independence. Although little used today, pamphlets were an important medium for the spread of ideas in the 16th through 19th centuries. Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” advocated independence for the American colonies from Britain and is considered one of the most influential pamphlets in American history.
Jan. 9, 1788 – Connecticut became the fifth state to be admitted to the United States.
Jan. 9, 1829 – Confederate officer William Joel Lee born in Conecuh County.
Jan. 9, 1829 – German botanist and explorer Adolf Schlagintweit was born.
Jan. 9, 1836 – The Alabama State Legislature created Cherokee County, DeKalb County and Marshall County. Cherokee County was named for the Cherokee Indians who controlled the territory until the early 19th century. DeKalb County was named for the Revolutionary War hero, General John B. DeKalb. Marshall County was named in honor of John Marshall, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. The new counties were created from Cherokee land acquired in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, which ceded all Cherokee Nation land east of the Mississippi and stated that the Cherokees would remove in two years.
Jan. 9, 1836 – William Barrett Travis (commander of the ill-fated Alamo) and Rosanna Cato Travis were officially divorced by the Marion County, Ala. courts by Act No. 115.
Jan. 9, 1858 – Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic of Texas, committed suicide.
Jan. 9, 1861 – Mississippi became the second state to secede from the Union before the outbreak of the American Civil War. Mississippi followed South Carolina in seceding from the Union when a state convention at Jackson ratified an article of secession by a vote of 84 to 15.
Jan. 9, 1861 - The Union ship Star of the West was fired upon by South Carolina artillery as it tried to bring supplies to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. This event was the first time that shots were fired between the North and South, and it is considered by some historians to be the "First Shots of the American Civil War."
Jan. 9, 1861 – During the Civil War, Fort Johnston, North Carolina was seized by rebellious citizens of Smithville, N.C.
Jan. 9, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Columbus, Mo. and at Elk Run and Pohick Run, Va.
Jan. 9, 1863 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Fort Hindman began in Arkansas.
Jan. 9, 1863 – During the Civil War, a Federal operation began between Huntsville and Kingston, Ark. The Confederate salt works in the vicinity of St. Joseph, Fla. were also destroyed. A two-day Federal evacuation of Holly Springs, Miss. also began. The Federal garrison at Hartville, Mo. also surrendered to Confederate Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke. Skirmishes were also fought at Brentville, Fairfax Court House, Grove Church and Providence Church, Va.
Jan. 9, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Terman's Ferry, on the Sandy River between Louisa and Catlettsburg, Ky.
Jan. 9, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Pine Bluff, Ark.; at Mount Sterling, Ky.; in Texas County, Mo.; and near Disputanta Station, Va. President Abraham Lincoln dispatched Edwin Stanton, U.S. Secretary of War, to Savannah, Ga. for a meeting with Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, addressing military strategy and his alleged mistreatment of freed slaves. Federal reconnaissance began from Eastport to Iuka, Miss. as remnants of the once mighty Confederate Army of Tennessee begin arriving in Tupelo, Miss., as they fell back from their resounding defeat at Nashville.
Jan. 9, 1885 – George and Charlie Davis, who were brothers charged with the murder of D. Morris near Hunter’s Mill in Monroe County, Ala., escaped from the Wilcox County Jail with seven other prisoners. The Bell’s Landing postal carrier spotted the Davis brothers near River Ridge on Jan. 16 as they made “their way back to their families in South Monroe.” The Davis brothers were later recaptured and returned to the Wilcox County Jail. The murder they were charged with was described as “one of the most cowardly and brutal in the criminal annals of Monroe.”
Jan. 9, 1886 - Alabama author and theatrical manager Noah Ludlow died in St. Louis, Mo.
Jan. 9, 1900 – Adventurer and author Richard Halliburton was born in Brownsville, Tenn. He is best known for his 1925 book, “The Royal Road to Romance.”
Jan. 9, 1908 – Novelist and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris, France.
Jan. 9, 1909 – Ernest Shackleton, leading the Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole, planted the British flag 97 nautical miles from the South Pole, the farthest anyone had ever reached at that time.
Jan. 9, 1913 - Richard Milhous Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. He went on to become the 37th President of the United States.
Jan. 9, 1913 – On this Thursday morning, the James T. Staples, which was nicknamed the “Big Jim” reached the Coffeeville landing in Clarke County, Ala. The boat needed wood to fire its boilers and to warm its passengers and there was freight to take on so the boat tied up. Later that day, shortly after noon, the “Big Jim,” while tied up a Powe’s Landing, would be rocked by a devastating explosion that killed 26 people and injured 21 others.
Jan. 9, 1929 – Brian Friel, the playwright sometimes described as the “Irish Chekhov,” was born near Omagh in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
Jan. 9, 1932 – Conecuh County, Ala. teachers were called to a meeting at the Conecuh County Courthouse by Superintendent M.A. Hanks for the purpose of starting an educational survey of the county for the State Department of Education.
Jan. 9, 1934 – Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr was born in Montgomery, Ala. After starring at Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery, he went on to play for the University of Alabama from 1952 to 1956. He went on to play for the Green Bay Packers from 1956 to 1971. He was the head coach of the Packers from 1975 to 1983.
Jan. 9, 1936 - Alabama author Anne Rivers Siddons was born in Atlanta, Ga.
Jan. 9, 1937 - The first issue of "LOOK" magazine went on sale. Within a month, "LOOK" became a biweekly magazine.
Jan. 9, 1941 - Alabama journalist Grover C. Hall died in Montgomery, Ala.
Jan. 9, 1947 – Elizabeth "Betty" Short, the Black Dahlia, was last seen alive.
Jan. 9, 1952 - Jackie Robinson became the highest paid player in Brooklyn Dodger history.
Jan. 9, 1953 – During their annual meeting at the Evergreen (Ala.) Community House, the Conecuh County Cattlemen’s Association elected M.M. “Bill” Cardwell as its new president, succeeding Howard Dees. Cardwell had previously served as vice president during 1952 before becoming the association’s third president. C.E. Robinson was the first president. Other officers elected include the following Vice-President Carl M. Stacey, Secretary M.H. Huggins and Treasurer Rutland Rowe (re-elected) and members of the board of directors, Howard Dees (State Association Director), H.S. Barrow, Melvin Johnson, C.E. Robinson and Hugh Brown.
Jan. 9, 1953 – Holtville High School’s boys basketball team beat Evergreen High School in Evergreen, Ala. Shirley Frazier led Evergreen with 23 points.
Jan. 9, 1955 - The western TV series "Rawhide" premiered. The show was cancelled in 1966.
Jan. 9, 1957 - A radio version of Alabama author Ambrose Bierce's story, "The Man and the Snake," was broadcast as part of the “Sleep No More” series.
Jan. 9, 1962 - The NFL banned the grabbing of face masks.
Jan. 9, 1965 – Battleship Park, which featured the USS Alabama, in Mobile, Ala. officially opened. The battleship USS Alabama was dedicated in Mobile as a World War II memorial. Commissioned in August 1942, the Alabama served primarily in the Pacific, earning nine battle stars. She was awarded to the state in 1964 through the efforts of the USS Alabama Battleship Commission, and since her dedication has become a primary Mobile tourist attraction.
Jan. 9, 1965 – During the Vietnam War, under pressure from United States officials, Gen. Nguyen Khanh and the newly formed Armed Forces Council – generals who participated in the bloodless coup on Dec. 19, 1964 – agreed to support the civilian government of Premier Trran Van Huong. The coup occurred when Khanh and a group of generals, led by Air Commodore Nguyen Cao Ky and Army Maj. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, arrested three dozen high officers and civilian officials and took control of the government. The coup was part of the continuing political instability that followed the November 1963 coup that resulted in the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem.
Jan. 9, 1967 – During the Vietnam War, the Agency for International Development (AID) attempted to respond to reports in the American media of widespread corruption and thievery of commodities sent to South Vietnam by the United States. In a report to the president, AID officials asserted, “No more than 5-6 percent of all economic assistance commodities delivered to Vietnam were stolen or otherwise diverted.
Jan. 9, 1971 – National Baseball Hall of Fame right fielder Elmer Flick died at the age of 94 in Bedford, Ohio. During his career, he played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Bronchos/Naps. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963.
Jan. 9, 1976 – Singer-songwriter Hayes Carll was born in The Woodlands, Texas.
Jan. 9, 1976 – Sportscaster Todd Grisham was born in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Jan. 9, 1977 - Super Bowl XI set a pro attendance record with 103,438. The NBC telecast was viewed by 81.9 million.
Jan. 9, 1979 – Conecuh County High School’s varsity boys basketball team beat Southern Normal, 65-64. William Griffin led CCHS with 26 points and three rebounds. Paige Stokes had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Jan. 9, 1989 – National Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman Bill Terry died at the age of 90 in Jacksonville, Fla. During his career, he played for the New York Giants (1923-1936), and he managed the Giants from 1932 to 1941. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954.
Jan. 9, 1991 - A special committee of Major League Baseball authorities officially banned Pete Rose from being elected into the Hall of Fame.
Jan. 9, 1991 – Representatives from the United States and Iraq met at the Geneva Peace Conference to try to find a peaceful resolution to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Jan. 9, 1992 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Sparta Academy senior Steven Gall had been named the Most Valuable Player during the AISA All-State Football Game in Selma, Ala. Gall was chosen MVP for the West Squad after catching four passes for 65 yards, completing a pass and scoring his team’s only touchdown.
Jan. 9, 2004 - A movie version of Alabama author Daniel Wallace's book “Big Fish” was released.
Jan. 9, 2005 - Randy Moss of the Minnesota Vikings pretended to pull down his pants and moon the Green Bay Packer crowd during a playoff win. On Jan. 13, the NFL fined Moss $10,000 for the act.
Jan. 9, 2009 – English mountaineer and explorer Rob Gauntlett, 21, was killed after accidentally, falling whilst ice climbing at Chamonix in the Alps.
Jan. 9, 2012 - No. 2-ranked University of Alabama defeated No. 1-ranked Lousiana State University, 21-0, to earn the BCS National Championship in New Orleans, making it the third national championship won by Coach Nick Saban.