Year
1997

Albright sworn in as secretary of state

The day after her unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Madeline Albright is sworn in as America’s first female secretary of state by Vice President Al Gore at the White House. As head of the U.S. State Department, Albright was the highest ranking female official in U.S. history, a distinction that led some to declare that the “glass ceiling” preventing the ascension of women in government had been lifted.

Albright was born Maria Jana Korbelova in Czechoslovakia in 1937 and fled to the United States with her family in 1948 after the communist takeover. She studied law and government at Columbia University in New York City and graduated with a Ph.D. During the 1970s, she served as a staff member on the National Security Council and at the White House and in 1989 became president of the nonprofit Center for National Policy. In January 1993, she was appointed the permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations by President Bill Clinton, where she earned a reputation as a tough, straight-talking negotiator with a personal touch. In December 1996, she was nominated by Clinton to replace Warren Christopher as secretary of state, the most important and powerful post in the president’s Cabinet.

On January 26, 2005, Condoleezza Rice was sworn in by President George W. Bush as the nation’s second female secretary of state.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

USS Pueblo captured

On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, is engaged in a routine surveillance of the North Korean coast when it is intercepted by North Korean patrol boats. According to U.S. reports, the Pueblo was in international waters almost 16 miles from shore, but ...read more

First woman M.D.

Elizabeth Blackwell is granted a medical degree from Geneva College in New York, becoming the first female to be officially recognized as a physician in U.S. history. Blackwell, born in Bristol, England, came to the United States in her youth and attended the medical faculty of ...read more

Toy company Wham-O produces first Frisbees

On this day in 1957, machines at the Wham-O toy company roll out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs–now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees. The story of the Frisbee began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where William Frisbie opened the Frisbie ...read more

Derek Walcott is born

On this day, poet and playwright Derek Walcott is born in St. Lucia, in the Carribbean. Walcott will win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Walcott’s family descended from slaves in the West Indies, and the legacy of slavery is a common theme in his work. Both his parents ...read more

Deadliest earthquake in history rocks China

On this day in 1556, an earthquake in Shaanxi, China, kills an estimated 830,000 people. Counting casualties is often imprecise after large-scale disasters, especially prior to the 20th century, but this disaster is still considered the deadliest of all time. The quake struck in ...read more

Videotaped murder leads to convictions in Texas

Darrell Lunsford, a county constable in Garrison, Texas, is killed after pulling over a traffic violator. His murder was remarkable because it was captured on a camera set up in Lunsford’s patrol vehicle. The videotape evidence led to the conviction of the three men who beat, ...read more

North Korea seizes U.S. ship Pueblo

The U.S. intelligence-gathering ship Pueblo is seized by North Korean naval vessels and charged with spying and violating North Korean territorial waters. Negotiations to free the 83-man crew of the U.S. ship dragged on for nearly a year, damaging the credibility of and ...read more

Hood removed from command

On this day in 1865, Confederate General John Bell Hood is officially removed as commander of the Army of Tennessee. He had requested the removal a few weeks before; the action closed ableak chapter in the history of the Army of Tennessee. A Kentucky native, Hood attended West ...read more