This Week in History: January 8-14

History from Around the World

This week in history: The United States and England share the stage.  Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

An image of The original cover of Thomas Paine's pamphlet "Common Sense"
The original cover of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense”

January 10th, 1776 – Common Sense Published

Thomas Paine anonymously published his independence-advocating pamphlet Common Sense. It was read (and read aloud) widely through the 13 colonies during the early years of the American Revolution. Paine’s rhetoric structures the pamphlet to read as if a sermon. Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era.”

Learn more about Paine and politics in A History of the United States, 2nd Edition.


January 11th, 1908 – Grand Canyon National Monument

A 1938 poster of Grand Canyon National Park
A promotional tourism poster for Grand Canyon National Park – 1938

As the United State’s 15th oldest national park, Grand Canyon National Park covers 1.2 million acres in Arizona. Renowned outdoors-man and conversationalist Theodore Roosevelt visited the site and said: “The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world… Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.” A mile deep, 9-18 miles wide, and 277 miles long, the Grand Canyon, carved by the Colorado River, might be the most celebrated geological feature in the United States and among the most celebrated on Earth.

Learn more about the Grand Canyon and other spectacular US National Parks in Wonders of the National Parks: A Geology of North America.

January 15th, 1559 – Elizabeth I Crowned Queen

Image of Elizabeth I in her coronation robes, patterned with Tudor roses and trimmed with ermine.
Queen Elizabeth I in her coronation robes

Known as “The Virgin Queen,” Elizabeth I ruled England and Ireland from her coronation on January 15, 1559 to her death on March 24, 1603. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She never married (though had many offers) and was childless, though history reveals that she was in love with her childhood friend Robert Dudley. Her reign is marked by successful raids against the Spanish and a defender of Protestant nations, though she’s also remembered for being very cautious in her foreign policies. Her death was mourned by many, but not all, of her subjects.

Learn more about Elizabeth’s legacy in A History of England from the Tutors to the Stuarts.