This Day In History, January 17th

What happened on this day in history: Prohibition goes into effect, Betty White is born, Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky is first reported, and more.

1706: Benjamin Franklin Is Born

Writing Of The Constitution

Library of CongressBenjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson review a draft of the Declaration of Independence in 1776./span>

Benjamin Franklin is born in Boston, Massachusetts. An American founding father, writer, and inventor, Franklin played a crucial role in the American Revolution, helping to draft the Declaration of Independence and attending the Constitutional Convention. Franklin also put his keen mind to other uses, producing a number of inventions like bifocals and the lightning rod.

1874: Conjoined Twins Chang and Eng Bunker Die

Conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker die at the age of 62 in North Carolina. Chang died first of a blood clot, and Eng died soon afterward.

1893: Queen Liliuokalani Of Hawaii Is Overthrown

Today In History January 17

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesQueen Liliuokalani was overthrown with the tacit support of the American government.

Queen Liliuokalani is overthrown by sugar planters led by Sanford Ballard Dole, with the implied support of the U.S. government. The queen of Hawaii, Liliuokalani had ascended to the throne two years earlier and had attempted to return power to the Hawaiian monarchy. Following Dole’s coup d’état, however, the American government eventually agreed to annex the islands, and Hawaii became a U.S. state in 1959.

1920: Prohibition Goes Into Effect

Prohibition begins in the United States as the 18th amendment goes into effect. The new law — which banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of intoxicating liquors — resulted in the proliferation of illegal bootlegging by gangsters like Al Capone, and the loss of millions of dollars in tax revenue. It lasted until 1933 with the ratification of the 21st amendment.

1922: Betty White Is Born

Young Betty White

Bettmann/Getty ImagesWhen asked if there was one thing in Hollywood that she hadn’t done yet that she’d like to do, her response was, “Robert Redford.”

Betty White is born in Oak Park, Illinois. An American actress and comedian, White starred in iconic television shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973–1977) and The Golden Girls (1985–1992). By the time of her death in 2021, White had won numerous acting awards, including eight Emmy Awards and one Grammy Award, and was an adored pop culture icon.

1961: Patrice Lumumba Is Assassinated

Patrice Lumumba

Douglas Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesPatrice Lumumba in July 1960, about six months before his assassination.

Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba is assassinated in Lubumbashi, in the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. Young and charismatic, Lumumba became the first prime minister of the country in 1960. But his anti-Western, anti-imperialist views rankled some in the West, who likely played a role in his assassination shortly after his ascension to power.

1998: The Monica Lewinsky Scandal Breaks

The Monica Lewinsky scandal breaks after the Drudge Report publishes a story saying that Newsweek was withholding information about Lewinsky’s affair with President Bill Clinton. Indeed, Lewinsky, a White House intern, and Clinton, the married president, had an affair that started in November 1995. The subsequent scandal engulfed the country and led to Clinton’s acquittal at an impeachment trial in February 1999.