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• On Jan. 5, 1643, in the first record of a legal divorce in the American colonies, Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a divorce after being deserted by her husband, Denis Clarke.
• On Jan. 2, 1811, Timothy Pickering, a Federalist from Massachusetts, becomes the first senator to be censured. Pickering was accused of violating congressional law by publicly revealing secret documents communicated by the president to the Senate.
• On Jan. 1, 1863, a farmer named Daniel Freeman submits the first claim under the new Homestead Act for a property in Nebraska. The act legalized the long-standing practice of squatting on the vast federal landholdings in the West.
• On Jan. 6, 1925, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Finnish long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi makes his first American appearance. He would run a total of 55 races before returning home, losing only his last race, a half-mile sprint. Some newspapers speculated that Nurmi had lost only out of politeness to his hosts.
• On Jan. 7, 1947, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” becomes the No. 1 song on the U.S. pop charts. The story of Rudolph began in 1939, when retailer Montgomery Ward created a holiday book to give away to children. Johnny Marks later used the story to write the song, which sold more than 2 million units in its first year alone.
• On Jan. 4, 1974, President Richard Nixon refuses to hand over tape recordings and documents that had been subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee. Nixon would resign from office in disgrace eight months later.
• On Jan. 3, 1990, Panama’s Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega surrenders to U.S. military troops to face charges of drug trafficking. In 1992, the former dictator was convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
© 2017 King Features Syndicate, Inc.
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