updated 1/1/2007 12:11:06 AM ET 2007-01-01T05:11:06

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states were free.

On this date:

In 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opened.

In 1898, New York City was consolidated into five boroughs.

In 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed.

In 1953, country singer Hank Williams Sr., 29, died of a drug and alcohol overdose while en route to a concert date in Canton, Ohio.

In 1959, Fidel Castro led Cuban revolutionaries to victory over Fulgencio Batista.

In 1979, the United States and China held celebrations in Washington and Beijing to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In 1984, the breakup of AT&T took place as the telecommunications giant was divested of its 22 Bell System companies under terms of an antitrust agreement.

In 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two new countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect.

In 1999, the euro, the new single currency of 11 European countries (later 12), officially came into existence with the start of the New Year.

Ten years ago: An off-duty Israeli soldier with a history of mental problems opened fire on a crowded vegetable market in Hebron, wounding five people and touching off a stone-throwing demonstration by angry Palestinians. Kofi Annan assumed the title of United Nations secretary-general.

Five years ago: The euro became legal tender in 12 European nations. Michael Bloomberg succeeded Rudolph Giuliani as New York City’s mayor. Eduardo Duhalde was named Argentina’s fifth president in two weeks. No. 2 Oregon defeated No. 3 Colorado 38-16 in the Fiesta Bowl.

One year ago: President Bush strongly defended his domestic spying program, calling it legal as well as vital to thwarting terrorist attacks. The Medicare prescription drug plan went into effect. American teenager Farris Hassan, who’d traveled alone to Iraq to experience the lives of its people, returned home to Florida after three weeks in the Middle East.

Today’s Birthdays: Author J.D. Salinger is 88. Former Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., is 85. Actor Ty Hardin is 77. Actor Frank Langella is 67. Rock singer-musician Country Joe McDonald is 65. Writer-comedian Don Novello is 64. Actor Rick Hurst is 61. Country singer Steve Ripley (The Tractors) is 57. Rapper Grandmaster Flash is 49. Actress Ren Woods is 49. Actress Dedee Pfeiffer is 43. Actress Embeth Davidtz is 41. Actor Morris Chestnut is 38. Actor Verne Troyer is 38.

Thought for Today: “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” — James Thurber, American humorist (1894-1961).

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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