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1949 (MCMXLIX)was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1949th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 949th year of the 2nd millennium, the 49th year of the 20th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1940s decade.
Harry S. Truman as Full Terms 33rd President of the United States
- January 1 – A United Nations-sponsored ceasefire brings an end to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. The war results in a stalemate and the division of Kashmir, which still continues as of 2019.
- January 2 – Luis Muñoz Marín becomes the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico.
- January 4–February 22 – A series of winter storms in Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado and Nevada, with winds of up to 72 mph, cause tens of thousands of cattle and sheep to perish.
- January 4 – The RMS Caronia of the Cunard Line departs Southampton for New York, on her maiden voyage.
- January 5 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman unveils his Fair Deal program.
- January 9–January 12 – The Los Angeles area is hit with a massive snow storm.
- January 11 – The first "networked" television broadcasts take place, as KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania goes on the air, connecting the east coast and mid-west programming.
- January 16 – Şemsettin Günaltay forms the new government of Turkey. It is the 18th government, last single party government of the Republican People's Party.
- February 1
- Rationing of clothes ends in Britain.
- Belgian astronomer Jean Meeus asserts that the orbits of all the planets of the Solar System are within the same 90° arc of the Solar System, on this date. The next time it is thought this will occur is on May 6, 2492.
- February 10 – Arthur Miller's tragedy Death of a Salesman opens at the Morosco Theatre in New York City, and runs for 742 performances.
- February 11 – The London Mozart Players perform their first concert at the Wigmore Hall, London.
- February 13 – António Óscar Carmona is re-elected president of Portugal, for lack of an opposing candidate.
- February 17 – Chaim Weizmann begins his term, as the first President of Israel.
- February 19 – Ezra Pound is awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry, by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.
- February 22
- February 28 – Margaret Roberts, the future Margaret Thatcher, is adopted as the Conservative candidate for Dartford. She will go on to fight two elections in the constituency unsuccessfully, in 1950 and 1951.
- February 26 – The Revolutionary Communist Party of India stages attacks at Dum Dum.
- March 1
- World heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis retires.
- Indonesia seizes Yogyakarta from the Dutch.
- March 2 – The B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II (under Captain James Gallagher) lands in Fort Worth, Texas, after completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight (it was refueled in flight 4 times).
- March 17 – The Shamrock Hotel in Houston, Texas, owned by oil tycoon Glenn McCarthy, has its grand opening.
- March 20 – The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, Denver and Rio Grande Western and Western Pacific railroads inaugurate the California Zephyr passenger train between Chicago and Oakland, California, as the first long distance train to feature Vista Dome cars as regular equipment.
- March 21 – WTVJ signs on the air in Miami, Florida, as the first station in the state.
- March 24 – The 21st Academy Awards Ceremony is held. The movie Hamlet wins the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- March 25 – Operation Priboi: An extensive deportation campaign begins in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Soviet authorities deport more than 92,000 people from the Baltic states to remote areas of the Soviet Union.
- March 26 – The first half of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Aida, conducted by legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini, and performed in concert (i.e. no scenery or costumes), is telecast by NBC, live from Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center. The second half is telecast a week later. This is the only complete opera that Toscanini ever conducts on television.
- March 28
- March 30 – The anti-NATO riot takes place, prompted by the decision of the Icelandic parliament to join the newly formed NATO.
- March 31 – The former British colony of Newfoundland joins Canada, as its 10th province.
- April 4 – The North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington, D.C., creating the NATO defense alliance.
- April 7 – Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, starring Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, opens on Broadway, and goes on to become R&H's second longest-running musical. It becomes an instant classic of the musical theatre. The score's biggest hit is the song "Some Enchanted Evening".
- April 8 – Kathy Fiscus, 3½ years old, dies from falling down an abandoned well in San Marino, California.
- April 14 – ON this day, the N'Ko alphabet is held to have been completed by Solomana Kante.
- April 15 – KPFA, the flagship station of the Pacifica Foundation, begins broadcasting in Berkeley, California.
- April 18 – The Republic of Ireland formally becomes a republic, and leaves the British Commonwealth.
- April 20 – Royal Navy frigate HMS Amethyst goes up the Yangtze River, to evacuate British Commonwealth refugees escaping the advance of Mao's Communist forces. Under heavy fire, she grounds off Rose Island. After an abortive rescue attempt on April 26, she anchors 10 miles (16 km) upstream. Negotiations with the Communists to let the ship leave drag on for weeks, during which time the ship's cat Simon raises the crew's morale.
- April 23 – Chinese Communist troops take Nanjing.
- April 26 – Transjordan changes its name, to the Kingdom of Jordan.
- April 28
- May 1 – Nereid, a moon of Neptune, is discovered by Gerard Kuiper.
- May 4 – Superga air disaster: A Fiat G.212 airliner of Avio Linee Italiane, carrying the entire Torino F.C. football team, crashes into the back wall of the Basilica of Superga, killing all 31 on board.
- May 5 – The Council of Europe is founded, by the signing of the Treaty of London.
- May 6 – EDSAC, the first practicable stored-program computer, runs its first program at Cambridge University.
- May 9 – Rainier III becomes Prince of Monaco, upon the death of his maternal grandfather Louis II.
- May 11
- Israel is admitted to the United Nations, as its 59th member.
- Siam officially changes its French name to "Thaïlande" (English name to "Thailand"), having officially changed its Thai name to "Prated Thai" since 1939.
- May 12 – Cold War: The Soviet Union lifts the Berlin Blockade.
- May 16 – The Tokyo Stock Exchange resumes operations, after a four-year shutdown.
- May 20
- May 22 – After two months in Bethesda Naval Hospital, James Forrestal commits suicide, under circumstances that seem suspicious to many.
- May 23 – The Federal Republic of Germany is established.
- May 31 – The first trial of Alger Hiss for perjury begins in New York City, with Whittaker Chambers as principal witness for the prosecution, but will end in a jury deadlock (8 for, 4 against).
- June 5 – Thailand elects Orapin Chaiyakan, the first Thai female member of Thailand's Parliament.
- June 6 – With the passage of the Bodh Gaya Temple Act by the Indian government, Mahabodhi Temple is restored to partial Buddhist control.
- June 7–25 – Dock workers strike in the United Kingdom.
- June 8
- June 14 – Albert II, a rhesus monkey, becomes the first primate to enter space, on U.S. Hermes project V-2 rocket Blossom IVB, but is killed on impact at return.
- June 19 – Glenn Dunaway wins the inaugural NASCAR race at Charlotte Speedway, a 3/4 mile oval in Charlotte, North Carolina, but is disqualified due to illegal springs. Jim Roper is declared the official winner.
- June 24 – The first television western, Hopalong Cassidy, airs on NBC in the United States.
- June 29 – Apartheid: The South African Citizenship Act suspends the granting of citizenship to Commonwealth of Nations immigrants after 5 years, and imposes a ban on mixed marriages.
- September 7 – The Federal Republic of Germany is officially founded. Konrad Adenauer is the first federal chancellor.
- September 9
- September 13 – The Soviet Union vetoes United Nations membership for Ceylon, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Jordan and Portugal.
- September 17 – Canadian steamship SS Noronic burns in Toronto Harbour, with the loss of over 118 lives.
- September 19 – The United Kingdom government devalues the pound sterling from $4.03 to $2.80, leading to many other currencies being devalued.
- September 23 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman announces that the Soviet Union has tested the atomic bomb.
- September 24 – László Rajk, ex-foreign minister of Hungary, is sentenced to death.
- September 25 – U.S. Christian evangelist Billy Graham started the Los Angeles Crusade (1949), his first great evangelistic campaign. It ran for eight weeks. During the campaign Graham spoke to 350,000 people and the event was subsequently described as the greatest revival since the time of Billy Sunday. After this crusade, Graham became a national figure in the United States.
- September 26 – Samuel Putnam publishes his new translation of Don Quixote, the first in contemporary English. It is instantly acclaimed and, in 2008, is still in print.
- September 29
: People's Republic of China is founded.