This Day In History, January 12th

What happened on this day in history: Founding Father John Hancock is born, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes Haiti, and more.

1737: John Hancock Is Born

John Hancock Portrait

Boston Museum of Fine Arts John Hancock, oil on canvas by John Singleton Copley, 1765.

John Hancock is born in Braintree, Massachusetts. One of America’s Founding Fathers, Hancock presided over the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1777 and was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. He later served as the long-time governor of Massachusetts and died in 1793.

1879: Anglo-Zulu War Begins

The Anglo-Zulu War begins in South Africa. After the British North America Act of 1867 granted Canada independence, leaders in the Zulu Kingdom of South Africa believed a combination of military campaigns and political appeals would grant them the same opportunity. Britain sent troops the the region after peace talks failed, and bloody battles took place for nearly five months. In the end, British troops prevailed, and the Zulu kingdom was portioned.

1910: Bass Reeves Dies

Bass Reeves, the Black Wild West lawman who purportedly arrested 3,000 outlaws during his career, dies of Bright’s disease in Muskogee, Oklahoma, at the age of 71.

1919: Big Four Leaders Meet In Paris

Big Four

Public DomainThe “Big Four” leaders from left to right: Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Great Britain, Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy, Premier Georges Clemenceau of France, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America.

Following the end of World War I in November 1918, the leaders of the victorious “Big Four” nations meet in Paris. Great Britain’s David Lloyd George, France’s Georges Clemenceau, Italy’s Vittorio Orlando, and the United States Woodrow Wilson gathered to determine peace terms. They would eventually produce the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations.

1995: Christa Pike Murders Colleen Slemmer

Christa Pike

YouTubeChrista Pike was just 18 when she murdered Colleen Slemmer.

Eighteen-year-old Christa Pike murders Colleen Slemmer near the campus of the University of Tennessee. Convinced that Slemmer wanted to steal her boyfriend, Pike and her friends lured Slemmer into the woods where they carved a pentagram into her chest and bashed in her skull. Pike later became the youngest woman in American history to be sentenced to death.

2010: A Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Hits Haiti

A devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes Haiti. One of the world’s worst natural disasters, it displaced a million people and killed somewhere between 40,000 and 316,000 people. Haitians also suffered in the weeks that followed as a cholera outbreak killed several thousands more.