This Day In History, January 29th

What happened on this day in history: Common Sense author Thomas Paine is born, the Bear River Massacre takes place in Idaho, and more.

1737: Thomas Paine Is Born

Thomas Paine is born in Thetford, England. A writer and philosopher who emigrated to North America in 1774, Paine’s ideas heavily influenced American colonists as the Revolutionary War escalated. His popular pamphlet, Common Sense, critiqued the English monarchy, bolstering the argument for independence.


1863: The Bear River Massacre Takes Place

Today In History January 29

Public DomainChief Sagwitch, a survivor of the Bear River Massacre, with his wife. Circa 1875 to 1880.

The Bear River Massacre takes place in present-day Franklin County, Idaho. After years of escalating tensions between local Native Americans and white settlers living near Bear River, the U.S. Army attacked a Shoshone tribe settlement. An estimated 250 men, women, and children were killed.


1891: Liliʻuokalani Is Crowned Queen Of Hawaii

Queen Liliuokalani

Unknown/Library of CongressA signed photograph of Queen Liliuokalani.

Liliʻuokalani is crowned queen of Hawaii. During her reign, Liliʻuokalani attempted to restore the monarchy to its full strength. But just two years after ascending to the throne, American sugar planters overthrew the queen, eventually leading to Hawaii’s annexation and statehood in 1959.


1979: Brenda Ann Spencer Commits A Mass Shooting At An Elementary School

Brenda Ann Spencer

Bettmann/Getty ImagesWhen asked why she fired at the school, Brenda Ann Spencer replied: “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”

Sixteen-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer kills two adults and injures eight children as well as a first responder, at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California.

Firing dozens of rounds from her house across the street from the school, Spencer later claimed that she was motivated to commit the mass shooting out of a dislike for Mondays. After pleading guilty, Spencer was sentenced to concurrent terms of 25 years to life in prison.