January 2, 533
A priest from the Basilica di San Clemente is named Pope of the Catholic Church on January 2, 533. His name was Mercurius, a name honoring the Roman god Mercury, so he changed his hame to Pope John II. He was the first pope to adopt a new name upon gaining the papacy.
January 2, 1777
During the American Revolutionary War, General George Washington and his 6,000 men met Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis and 5,000
Washington had won a battle several days earlier. The British were expected to counter attack, and did so. The American held firm and repulsed the British three times on January 2, 1777. The British pulled back to wait the night, planning on attacking again the next day.
Washington pulled all his troops out, went around Cornwallis and attacked Princeton the next day, defeating them. The British pulled out of Southern New Jersey. The winter battles were over, and although these were relatively minor skirmishes, the Americans had shown they could beat the British, and morale soared.
January 2, 1788
Georgia becomes the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution. The new US Constitution, written by the Philadelphia Convention to replace the Articles of Confederation, needed nine states to ratify it before it could go into effect. The first, Delaware, ratified it on December 7, 1787. Georgia was the fourth on January 2, 1788, with a unanimous vote in favor of ratification. New Hampshire made the ninth on June 21, 1788.
The Continental Congress, the ruling body of the Articles of Confederation, passed a resolution putting the new Constitution into effect on September 13, 1788.
The new Constitution said only nine states were needed, but the old Articles of Confederation actually called for all states to agree before revising the Articles, so this was a tricky time. Eventually all thirteen states ratified the Constitution with Rhode Island being the last in May 1790.
January 2, 1860
Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier announced at a meeting of the Academie des Sciences in Paris that a planed inside the orbit of Mercury had been discovered. This planet was called Vulcan. Th
Credit was given to Edmond Modeste Lescarbault for the discovery, as he recorded in great detail observations he had made. Other observers, some considered very trustworthy, later confirmed sightings also. However, even with the observations, so reliable orbits figures could be determined and sometimes years passed without any sighting at all. Finally, in 1915 Einstien’s theory of relativity was able to explain the orbit of Mercury, without the aid of another planet.
There have still been unexplained sightings, even as late at 1970. It is thought there may be some comets or asteroids in orbit between the Sun and Mercury, but it is hard to observe this area because of the closeness of the sun to observations. These are called Vulcanoid asteroids, and it is still not known for sure if they exist.
January 2, 1935
The trail of Bruno Hauptmann starts for the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr. Hauptmann was found guilty of the kidnapping and murder, and put to death on April 3, 1936.
Numerous movies and books have been written about this case, and some have said that Hauptmann was guilty, while others say he was innocent, and blame it on everything from a friend of Haupltmann’s, police misconduct, or a cover up by the Lindberghs.
Hauptmann’s wife tried several times to get the case re-opened or to sue the state as new evidence came to light, but she was never able to gain traction with proving her husband innocent in court.
January 2, 1974
In October of 1973 OPEC started an oil embargo of the United States and Western Europe in retaliation for their support of Israel against Arab nations during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Among other energy saving measures taken, Congress passed a law making official the recommendation of President Nixon that citizens should reduce their speed to 55 mph to conserve fuel. The President signed the law on January 2, 1974.