On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states shall be “forever free.” (Baltimore Sun files)
Jan. 1, 1913: The U.S. Parcel Post system went into operation.
Jan. 1, 1994: The North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect.
Jan. 1, 1995: The World Trade Organization (WTO) came into being, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Sweden, Finland and Austria joined the European Union.
Jan. 1, 2014: The nation's first legal recreational pot shops opened in Colorado at 8 a.m. Mountain time.
Jan. 2, 1921: Religious services were broadcast on radio for the first time as KDKA in Pittsburgh aired the regular Sunday service of the city's Calvary Episcopal Church.
Jan. 2, 1960: Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts launched his successful bid for the presidency.
Jan. 3, 1793: Lucretia Mott, one of the founders of the American women's rights movement, was born Lucretia Coffin in Nantucket, Mass.
Jan. 3, 1938: The “March of Dimes” campaign to fight polio was organized.
Jan. 3, 1961: The United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Jan. 3, 2004: NASA's Mars rover Spirit touched down on the Red Planet.
Jan. 4, 1943: Soviet dictator Josef Stalin made the cover of TIME as the magazine's 1942 “Man of the Year.”
Jan. 4, 2007: Nancy Pelosi was elected the first female speaker of the House as Democrats took control of Congress.
Jan. 5, 1781: A British naval expedition led by Benedict Arnold burned Richmond, Virginia.
Jan. 5, 1914: Auto industrialist Henry Ford announced he was going to pay workers $5 for an 8-hour day, as opposed to $2.34 for a 9-hour day. (Employees still worked six days a week; the 5-day work week was instituted in 1926.)
Jan. 5, 1949: In his State of the Union address, President Harry S. Truman labeled his administration the Fair Deal.
Jan. 6, 1838: Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail gave the first successful public demonstration of their telegraph in Morristown, New Jersey.
Jan. 6, 1974: Year-round daylight saving time began in the United States on a trial basis as a fuel-saving measure in response to the OPEC oil embargo.
Jan. 7, 1610: Astronomer Galileo Galilei began observing three of Jupiter's moons (he spotted a fourth moon almost a week later).
Jan. 7, 1789: America held its first presidential election as voters chose electors who, a month later, selected George Washington to be the nation's first chief executive.
Jan. 7, 1904: The Marconi International Marine Communication Company of London announced that the telegraphed letters “CQD” would serve as a maritime distress call (it was later replaced with “SOS”).
Jan. 7, 1942: The Japanese siege of Bataan began during World War II. (The fall of Bataan three months later was followed by the notorious Death March.)
Compiled by Lori Sears and Paul McCardell.