In 1861, Alabama became the fourth state to withdraw from the Union.
In 1913, the first enclosed sedan-type automobile, a Hudson, went on display at the 13th National Automobile Show in New York.
In 1927, the creation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was proposed during a dinner of Hollywood luminaries at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
In 1935, aviator Amelia Earhart began an 18-hour trip from Honolulu to Oakland, California, that made her the first person to fly solo across any part of the Pacific Ocean.
In 1943, the United States and Britain signed treaties relinquishing extraterritorial rights in China.
In 1963, the Beatles’ single “Please Please Me” (B side “Ask Me Why”) was released in Britain by Parlophone.
In 1964, U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry issued “Smoking and Health,” a report that concluded that “cigarette smoking contributes substantially to mortality from certain specific diseases and to the overall death rate.”
In 1978, two Soviet cosmonauts aboard the Soyuz 27 capsule linked up with the Salyut 6 orbiting space station, where the Soyuz 26 capsule was already docked.
In 1989, nine days before leaving the White House, President Ronald Reagan bade the nation farewell in a prime-time address, saying of his eight years in office: “We meant to change a nation and instead we changed a world.”
In 2003, calling the death penalty process “arbitrary and capricious, and therefore immoral,” Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted the sentences of 167 condemned inmates, clearing his state’s death row two days before leaving office.
In 2010, Mark McGwire admitted to The Associated Press that he’d used steroids and human growth hormone when he broke baseball’s home run record in 1998.
In 2020, health authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan reported the first death from what had been identified as a new type of coronavirus; the patient was a 61-year-old man who’d been a frequent customer at a food market linked to the majority of cases there.
Ten years ago: Joran van der Sloot (YOHR’-uhn VAN’-dur-sloht), the longtime suspect in the still unsolved disappearance of American Natalee Holloway in Aruba, pleaded guilty in Lima to the 2010 murder of a Peruvian woman, Stephany Flores; he was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Five years ago: In a combative and freewheeling news conference at Trump Tower in New York, President-elect Donald Trump said for the first time that he accepted that Russia was behind the election year hacking of Democrats that roiled the White House race; looking ahead, he urged Congress to move quickly to replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care law and insisted anew that Mexico would pay the cost of a border wall. Six high-level Volkswagen employees from Germany were indicted in the U.S. in the VW emissions-cheating scandal, while the company agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $4.3 billion — by far the biggest fine ever levied by the government against an automaker.
One year ago: The conservative-friendly social network Parler was booted off the internet over ties to the siege on the U.S. Capitol, but not before digital activists made off with an archive of its posts, including any that might have helped organize or document the riot. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park said several gorillas there had tested positive for the coronavirus in what were believed to be the first cases among such primates in captivity. Pope Francis changed church law to explicitly allow women to do more things during Mass, while reaffirming they cannot be priests. Billionaire casino mogul and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson died at 87. No. 1 Alabama won college football’s national championship game, 52-24 against No. 3 Ohio State, capping a season that was played in a pandemic; thousands of excited football fans ignored pandemic precautions and partied in streets around the University of Alabama after the game.
Today’s Birthdays: Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (zhahn kray-tee-EHN’) is 88. Actor Mitchell Ryan is 88. Movie director Joel Zwick is 80. Country singer Naomi Judd is 76. World Golf Hall of Famer Ben Crenshaw is 70. Singer Robert Earl Keen is 66. Actor Phyllis Logan is 66. Musician Vicki Peterson (The Bangles) is 64. Actor Kim Coles is 60. Actor Jason Connery is 59. Former child actor Dawn Lyn (TV: “My Three Sons”) is 59. Rock musician Tom Dumont (No Doubt) is 54. Movie director Malcolm D. Lee is 52. Singer Mary J. Blige is 51. Musician Tom Rowlands (The Chemical Brothers) is 51. Actor Marc Blucas is 50. Actor Amanda Peet is 50. Actor Rockmond Dunbar is 49. Actor Aja Naomi King is 37. Actor Kristolyn Lloyd is 37. Reality TV star Jason Wahler is 35. Pop singer Cody Simpson is 25.