On This Day in History: December 31

What happened in history on New Year’s Eve? One event was another European country declaring war on Germany during World War II.

Elizabeth I1600: Formal Charter Granted with the East India Company

Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter with the East India Company, hoping to bring an end to the spice trade monopoly owned by the Dutch. It took decades to see an advancement, and it led to the Indian Mutiny, which was crushed in 1858. India was taken over by the British Government and the East India Company was dissolved in 1873.

1775: Patriots Lose at Quebec

Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery had originally met on the outskirts of Quebec, demanding that the country surrender. However, on this day, the British defeated the Patriots. The Patriots had forced an advancement while the city was covered in a blizzard, but the British were ready and fired a barrage of musket and artillery fire. Montgomery was killed immediately. Arnold retreated, and later became the famous traitor after surrendering at the Hudson River.

1857: Queen Victoria Makes Ottawa New Canadian Capital

America isn’t the only country to go through capital city changes. Canada went through a change on this day in history, when Queen Victoria of Great Britain decided to make Ottawa, Ontario the new capital. It remains the capital today. The decision didn’t make sense at first, as it was a logging town out of the way from other major cities. The main benefit was that it was on the border of Quebec and Ontario, known as Canada East and Canada West at the time. It was also out of the way, so protected from major attacks. It now has a population of 800,000 people and is the fourth largest city in the whole of the country.

1944: Hungary Declares War

Hungary officially entered World War II on this day in history by declaring war on Germany. Before now, Hungary had cooperated—both freely and through coercion. It all happened because Soviet troops had managed to liberate most of Hungary from German rule through Ferenc Szalasi. The Provisional National Assembly was created on December 31, immediately declaring war.Bonnie Prince Charlie

1968: The End of Vietnam War’s Bloodiest Year

On this day in history, the bloodiest year in the Vietnam War came to a close. More than 500,000 American soldiers were stationed in Vietnam by the end of the year; an increase by 50,000 soldiers from the year before. The communists’ attack decisions led to the higher casualty rate; something that the Americans and South Vietnamese soldiers weren’t expecting.

1998: Exchange Rates Fixed for Euro and Legacy Currencies

The countries that would later make the switch to the Euro would see their exchange rate fixed today in history. It was a major step forward to one currency for the European Union, a decision that the majority of the member states decided to take. The likes of the Franc, Marks, and Lira were phased out for the new Euro.

Famous Birthdays on December 31

Explorer Jacques Cartier–1491

Japanese Emperor Go-Yozei–1572

Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie—1720

French artist Henri Matisse—1869

Military leader George Marshall–1880

Nazi Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal—1908

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia–1935

Actor Anthony Hopkins–1937

Singer Donna Summer–1948

All Blacks Rugby player Richie McCaw–1980

Sources:

 

Featured image from Deposit Photos

Birthdays from HistoryNet.com and OnThisDay.com

Image of Elizabeth I in the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_I_of_England#/media/File:Elizabeth_I_when_a_Princess.jpg)

Image of Charles Edward Stuart in the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Edward_Stuart#/media/File:Lost_Portrait_of_Charles_Edward_Stuart.jpg)


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