On this day December Events

December 20th

1790 - The first successful cotton mill in the U.S. began operating at Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

1803 - The Louisiana Purchase was completed as ownership of the territory was formally transferred from France to the United States during ceremonies in New Orleans. The massive land purchase, nearly doubled the size of the young republic, and was Thomas Jefferson's most notable achievement as President.

1860 - South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.

1879 - Thomas A. Edison privately demonstrated his incandescent light at Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1880 - Electric lights were installed throughout Broadway's theater section in New York City.

1892 - The pneumatic tire was patented.

1922 - The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed when 15 eastern European republics merged to form the USSR.

1924 - Adolf Hitler was released from prison after serving less than one year of a five-year sentence for treason.

1938 - The kinescope, now known as the cathode-ray tube, was patented by Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin.

1989 - U.S. armed forces invaded Panama to overthrow military dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega, who had been indicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges and accused of suppressing democracy in Panama.

1999 - The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded couples of the opposite sex.

1999 - Macau reverted to Chinese rule; it had been a Portuguese colony since 1557.

December 21st

A Merry Christmas to all my readers.

68 - Vespian, a general, entered Rome and was named emperor by the Senate.

1620 - The Pilgrims of the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.

1913 - The first crossword puzzle, compiled by Arthur Wynne, was published, appearing in the "New York World."

1923 - Nepal gained independence from Great Britain.

1928 - President Calvin Coolidge signed the Boulder Canyon Project Act, which intended to dam the fourteen hundred mile Colorado River and distribute its water for use in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

1937 - Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was shown in Los Angeles; it was the first full-length animated talking picture.

1948 - The state of Eire (formerly the Irish Free State) declared its independence.

1958 - Charles de Gaulle was elected to a seven-year term as the first president of the Fifth Republic of France.

1968 - Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, Jr. and William Anders aboard.

1971 - The United Nations Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as Secretary-General.

1975 - In Vienna, Austria, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as "Carlos the Jackal," led Arab terrorists on a raid of a meeting of oil ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The terrorists killed three people, and took 70 people hostage, including 11 OPEC ministers. Sanchez evaded authorities until 1994, when French agents captured him hiding in the Sudan. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by a French jury.

1976 - The Liberian-registered tanker Argo Merchant ran aground near Nantucket Island, spilling millions of gallons of oil into the North Atlantic.

1988 - A terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, sending wreckage crashing to the ground and killing 270 people.

1991 - Eleven of the 12 former Soviet Union republics proclaimed the birth of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

1995 - The city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.
1996 - After two years of denials, House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted violating House ethics rules.

December 22nd

1775 - The Continental Navy was organized in the American colonies under the command of Ezek Hopkins.

1807 - Congress passed the Embargo Act, designed to force peace between Britain and France and keep the United States out of their war by cutting off all trade with Europe.

1894 - French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. He was sent to Devil's Island but was later vindicated.

1894 - The United States Golf Association (USGA) was founded.

1895 - German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen made the first X-ray.

1938 - The first coelacanth to be identified was caught in the Bay of Chalumna off South Africa. The fish, thought extinct for 50 million years, was later named Latimeria-Chalumnae.

1944 - During the Battle of the Bulge, General Anthony McAuliffe responded to a German surrender request with a one word answer: "Nuts!"

1956 - The first gorilla was born in captivity, "Colo" in Columbus Ohio.

1961 - James Davis became the first U.S. soldier to die in Vietnam.

1989 - Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausçescu was overthrown in a revolutionary coup.

2001 - Richard C. Reid, a passenger on a flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers.

December 23rd

1783 - George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

1788 - Maryland voted to cede a 100-square-mile area for the seat of the national government; about two-thirds of the area became the District of Columbia.

1823 - The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was first published by Clement Clarke Moore.

1888 - Following a quarrel with Paul Gauguin, Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh cut off part of his own earlobe.

1913 - President Woodrow Wilson signed the Owen-Glass Act, creating the Federal Reserve System.

1921 - President Warren G. Harding freed Socialist Eugene Debs and 23 other political prisoners.

1922 - The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began daily news broadcasts.

1941 - American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese in World War II.

1944 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower confirmed the death sentence of Private Eddie Slovik, the only American shot for desertion since the Civil War.

1947 - John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William Shockley invented the transistor at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey. They won the Nobel Prize for their discovery.

1948 - In Tokyo, Japan, Hideki Tojo, former Japanese prime minister and chief of the Kwantung Army, was executed along with six other top Japanese leaders for their war crimes during World War II.

1968 - The 82 crew members of the U.S. intelligence ship USS Pueblo were released by North Korea, eleven months after they had been captured.

1974 - The B-1 bomber made its first successful test flight.

1975 - Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act declaring that the SI (International System of Units) will be the country's basic system of measurement.

1986 - The experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, round-the-world flight without refueling as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

1997 - A Denver federal court jury convicted Terry Nichols of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.

1997 - Woody Allen, 62, marries Soon-Yi Previn, 27, adopted daughter of Mia Farrow.

2003 - New York Governor George Pataki pardoned the late comedian Lenny Bruce for his 1964 obscenity conviction.

December 24th

1814 - The War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium.

1851 - Fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying around 2/3 of its collection, including 2/3 of Thomas Jefferson's personal library, sold to the institution in 1815.

1865 - Some veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, called the Ku Klux Klan. The name of the Ku Klux Klan is derived from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle, and clan, a Scottish Gaelic word for the traditional tribal units of Scotland that reflects the Scottish ancestry of many of the KKK's founding members.

1871 - Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt, to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.

1914 - In World War I, the first air raid on Britain was made when a German airplane dropped a bomb on the grounds of a rectory in Dover.

1919 - John D. Rockefeller, thought to be the world's richest man, gave away $100 million dollars.

1942 - German rocket engineer Wernher von Braun launched the first surface-to-surface guided missile.

1943 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed the Allied Supreme Commander, even though most thought Chief of Staff George C. Marshall would get the nod.

1951 - Libya achieved independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, under King Idris I.

1963 - New York's Idlewild Airport was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport in honour of the assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

1979 - Afghanistan was invaded by Soviet Union troops as the Kabul government fell.

1992 - President George Bush pardoned six Reagan aides involved in the Iran-Contra Affair, including Caspar W. Weinberger, former secretary of defence, and Robert C. McFarlane, former national security advisor.

2002 - Laci Peterson was reported missing from her Modesto, California home by her husband, Scott, who was later convicted of murdering her and their unborn son.

December 25th

336 - The first recorded celebration of Christmas on December 25 took place in Rome. Church fathers designated December 25th, the birthday of the popular pagan god Mithras, as Jesus’ official birth date. The celebration of the birth of Christ also took over the pagan winter solstice holiday, which like the birthday of the sun god Mithras, fell in late December. From thereon, December 25 was to be observed at a holy mass, or "Christ's Mass."

800 - Charlemagne was crowned first Holy Roman Emperor in Rome by Pope Leo III.

1066 - William the Conqueror was crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey.

1776 - General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.

1818 - "Silent Night" was performed for the first time, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorff, Austria.

1830 - The first regularly scheduled passenger train in the United States began operation, the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company.

1868 - President Andrew Johnson granted unqualified amnesty to all those who participated in the "insurrection or rebellion" against the United States, i.e. the Civil War.

1914 - During World War I, Allied and German troops observed an unofficial truce, even playing football together on the Western Front's "no man's land."

1926 - Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito.

1941 - Hong Kong was surrendered to the Japanese.

1972 - The Nicaraguan capital Managua was devastated by an earthquake which killed over 10,000 people.

1989 - Dissident playwright Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia.

1991 - Soviet Union President Mikhail S. Gorbachev announced his resignation.

December 26th

1492 - Christopher Columbus established the first Spanish settlement in the Americas on the island of Hispaniola, now Haiti.

1776 - The British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

1865 - James H. Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, received a patent for a coffee percolator.

1898 - Scientists Pierre Curie and Marie Curie announced their discovery of the radioactive element radium.

1917 - During World War I, the U.S. government took over operation of the nation's railroads.

1941 - Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, just three weeks after the U.S. entered World War II.

1966 - The first Kwanzaa celebration was organized in Los Angeles, California, by Dr. Maulana Karenga, chairman of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach. Kwanzaa is a non-religious African-American holiday that celebrates family, community, and culture for seven days.

1979 - The Soviet Union began a massive airlift of men into Kabul, Afghanistan, in an effort to reinstate Communist rule in the nation.

1995 - Israel turned dozens of West Bank villages over to the Palestinian Authority in a smooth transfer of power.

2004 - A tsunami triggered by the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean, left more than 275,000 people dead or missing, while inundating coastal communities across South and Southeast Asia.

December 27th

1831 - British naturalist Charles Darwin set out from Plymouth, England, aboard the HMS Beagle, on a five-year surveying expedition of the southern Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

1900 - Militant prohibitionist Carry A. Nation performed her first public smashing of a bar, at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, Kansas.

1927 - Defeated in his struggle for power against Josef Stalin, Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party.

1932 - Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City.

1945 - Twenty-eight nations signed an agreement to create the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development were created.

1945 - After World War II, the former Allied nations of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain agreed to divide Korea into two occupation zones and govern them for five years. The country was split along the 38th parallel, with Soviet forces occupying the northern zone, and Americans stationed to the south. In 1948 self-rule was granted with the establishment of two separate regimes in North Korea and South Korea.

1968 - Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, returned safely to Earth.

1978 - King Juan Carlos ratified Spain's first democratic constitution in nearly five decades.

1979 - Soviet Union forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal. It was the beginning of a 10-year war.

1996 - Muslim fundamentalist Taliban forces retook the strategic air base of Bagram, solidifying their buffer zone around Kabul, the Afghanistan capital.

2002 - North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.

2004 - In a run-off election, opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko declared victory in Ukraine's fiercely contested presidential election.

December 28th

1065 - Westminster Abbey was consecrated under Edward the Confessor.

1832 - John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down over differences with President Andrew Jackson.

1836 - Mexico's independence was recognized by Spain.

1846 - Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union.

1869 - The Knights of Labour, a labour union of tailors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, held the first Labour Day ceremonies in American history.

1869 - Chewing gum was patented by William F. Semple of Mount Vernon, Ohio.

1908 - The most destructive earthquake in European history struck Messina, Italy, flattening the city and killing more than 80,000 people. The earthquake registered 7.5 on the Richter scale.

1937 - The Irish Free State became the Republic of Ireland when a new constitution established the country as a sovereign state under the name of Eire.

1945 - Congress officially recognized the "Pledge of Allegiance."

1989 - Alexander Dubcek, the former Czechoslovak Communist leader who was deposed in a Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, was named chairman of the country's parliament.

December 29th

1607 - Indian chief Powhatan spared John Smith's life because of the pleas of Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas.

1813 - The British burned Buffalo, New York, during the War of 1812.

1837 - Canadian militiamen destroyed the Caroline, a U.S. steamboat docked at Buffalo, New York.

1845 - Texas (comprised of the present state of Texas and part of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming) was admitted as the 28th state of the Union, with the provision that the area should be divided into no more than five states.

1851 - The first U.S. branch Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was established, in Boston. The organization started in London in 1844.

1890 - The Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as some 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops. It was the last major battle between Native Americans and U.S. troops.

1940 - London suffered its most devastating air raid, and approximately 1,500 fires were started, when Germany started dropping incendiary bombs on it during World War II.

1996 - The Guatemalan government and leaders of the leftist Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union signed a peace accord in Guatemala City, ending a war that lasted 36 years.

1998 - Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed one million lives.

December 30th

1853 - The United States bought 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase. The treaty established the final boundaries of the southern United States.

1862 - The Union ironclad ship USS Monitor (famous for her battle with the Merrimac) sank off Cape Hatteras during a storm.

1879 - Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" was first performed, in England.

1880 - In British South Africa, the Transvaal province was declared an independent Boer republic, which set off an armed conflict with Britain.

1911 - Sun Yat-sen was elected the first president of the Republic of China.

1922 - Vladimir I. Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, comprising a confederation of Russia, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation.

1940 - California's first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, was officially opened.

1965 - Ferdinand E. Marcos was sworn in as the Philippine Republic's sixth president.

1972 - The United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam.

December 31st

1600 - Queen Elizabeth I of England granted a formal charter to the London merchants trading to the East Indies, hoping to break the Dutch monopoly of the spice trade.

1775 - The British fought off an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; general Richard Montgomery was killed.

1781 - The first modern bank in the U.S., the Bank of North America, was organized by Robert Morris and received its charter from the Confederation Congress. It began operating in Philadelphia.

1805 - The French Revolutionary calendar (Republican calendar) in use since 1793, was last used officially.

1879 - Thomas Edison first demonstrated his electric incandescent light bulb to the public, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1890 - New York's Ellis Island opened its doors to what would be millions of immigrants to the United States.

1897 - Brooklyn, New York, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.

1911 - Marie Sklodowska Curie received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her isolation of the element of metallic radium and other earlier discoveries in the field of chemistry. She was the first person to be awarded a second Nobel Prize, eight years after she became the first woman ever to be honoured with a Nobel Prize.

1923 - In London, the chimes of Big Ben were broadcast by the BBC for the first time.

1946 - President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed an end to World War II.

1960 - The farthing coin, which had been in use in Great Britain since the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.

1965 - California became the largest U.S. state in population.

1974 - Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.

1990 - Titleholder Gary Kasparov of the USSR won the world chess championship match against his countryman Anatoly Karpov.

1999 - Panama assumed control of the Panama Canal, according to the treaty of 1979.


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