Georgia’s royal governor is arrested
On the evening of January 18, 1776, the Council of Safety in Savannah, Georgia, issues an arrest warrant for the colony’s royal governor, James Wright. Patriots led by Major Joseph Habersham of the Provincial Congress then took Wright into custody and placed him under house arrest. Wright remained under guard in the governor’s mansion in Savannah until February 11, 1776, when he escaped to the British man-of-war, HMS Scarborough. After failing to negotiate a settlement with the revolutionary congress, he sailed for London.
Cook discovers Hawaii
On January 18, 1778, the English explorer Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands when he sails past the island of Oahu. Two days later, he landed at Waimea on the island of Kauai and named the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of John Montague, who was the earl of Sandwich and one his patrons. In 1768, Cook, a surveyor in the Royal Navy, was commissioned a lieutenant in command of the H.M.S. Endeavor and led an expedition that took scientists to Tahiti to chart the course of the planet Venus. In 1771, he returned to England, having explored the coast of New Zealand and Australia and circumnavigated the globe. Beginning in 1772, he commanded a major mission to the South Pacific and during the next three years explored the Antarctic region, charted the New Hebrides, and discovered New Caledonia. In 1776, he sailed from England again as commander of the H.M.S. Resolution and Discovery and in 1778 made his first visit to the Hawaiian Islan
Heavy rain leads to landslides in Southern California
On this day in 1969, a spate of heavy rain begins in Southern California that results in a tragic series of landslides and floods that kills nearly 100 people. This was the worst weather-related disaster in California in the 20th century. Although January typically features relatively high precipitation in Southern California, the first month of 1969 saw an extraordinary amount of rain throughout the region. Mt. Baldy, east of Los Angeles, received more than 50 inches in the nine-day period beginning January 18. By January 26, the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) had declared it a federal disaster area.
Peace conference opens in Paris
On this day in Paris, France, in the sumptuous Salle d’Horloge on the Quai d’Orsay, delegates convene for the official opening of the peace conference that will end the Great War. For Germany, already laid low in defeat, opening the peace conference on January 18 was an affront to national pride. On that same day in 1871, the efforts of Otto von Bismarck to unify Prussia and the German kingdoms into a single nation had culminated in the glorious coronation of Wilhelm I as kaiser of the new Germany. This was not a coincidence—George Clemenceau, the prime minister of the host country, had specially chosen the date.
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