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December 1, 1640 - A nationalist revolution in Portugal led to independence from Spain
as the Spanish garrisons were driven out of Portugal.
December 1, 1822 - Dom Pedro, founder of the Brazilian Empire, was crowned as the first
emperor of Brazil.
December 1, 1918 - Iceland was granted independence by the Danish parliament.
December 1, 1919 - Lady Nancy Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons.
December 1, 1925 - The Locarno Treaties were signed by France, Belgium and Germany, as a preventitive measure to avoid another war, in the aftermath of World War I. Terms of the Locarno Pact were guaranteed by
Britain and Italy.
December 1, 1941 - The American Civil Air Patrol (CAP), a U.S. Air Force auxiliary, was founded
as Director of Civilian Defense, former New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia,
signed the formal order. The CAP currently provides aerospace education,
a CAP cadet program, and emergency services such as locating missing
December 1, 1942 - The Beveridge Report was published in Britain envisioning the welfare
state including insurance for the entire population.
December 1, 1955 - The birth of the modern American civil rights movement occurred as
Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give
up her seat to a white man and move to the back section of a municipal
bus. Her arrest resulted in a year-long boycott of the city bus system
by African Americans and led to legal actions ending racial segregation
on municipal buses throughout the South.
December 1, 1988 - Benazir Bhutto was nominated to become prime minister of Pakistan,
the first woman to govern a Muslim nation.
December 1, 1989 - Mikhail Gorbachev became the first Soviet Russian leader to visit the Vatican
and meet the Pope, thus ending 72 years of strict atheist policy in Communist Russia.
December 1, 1990 - England was connected to mainland Europe for the first time since the
Ice Age as engineers digging a railway tunnel under the English Channel
broke through the last rock layer.
December 1, 1994 - The head of the U.N. Commission on Rwanda estimated 500,000 deaths
had resulted from genocide.
December 2, 1804 - Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France by Pope Pius VII
December 2, 1805 - Napoleon defeated Russia and Austria in the Battle of Austerlitz.
December 2, 1823 - President James Monroe introduced his "Monroe Doctrine"
during his annual message to the Congress, prohibiting any further colonization
of the American continents by European powers, stating, "we
should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to
any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety..."
December 2, 1852 - The Second Empire was proclaimed in France with Napoleon III as emperor.
December 2, 1859 - Abolitionist leader John Brown was executed for treason at Charles Town, West Virginia, following his
raid on the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry.
December 2, 1942 - Physicists led by Enrico Fermi carried out the world's first successful nuclear chain reaction at the
University of Chicago.
December 2, 1954 - The U.S. Senate condemned Senator Joseph McCarthy for misconduct following
his ruthless investigations of thousands of alleged Communists.
December 2, 1971 - The United Arab Emirates was formed, consisting of seven Arab kingdoms
on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula including the former Trucial
states Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah.
Ras al-Khaimah became a member in 1972. The area has some of the world's
largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas.
December 2, 1979 - Electors in Iran voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new constitution
granting absolute power to Ayatollah Khomeini.
December 2, 1982 - The first permanent artificial heart was implanted in 61-year-old
Barney C. Clark by Dr. William De Vries at the University of Utah Medical
Center in Salt Lake City. Clark, who was near death at the time of the
operation, survived 112 days after the implantation.
Birthday - French
painter Georges Seurat (1859-1891) was born in Paris. He was a leader
in the neo-impressionist movement of the late 19th Century.
December 3, 1931 - British dominions gained complete legislative independence as the
Statute of Westminster gave equal status to the dominions of Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and Newfoundland.
December 3, 1962 - Edith Sampson was sworn in as the first African American female judge,
after she was elected associate judge of the Municipal Court in Chicago.
December 3, 1967 - The first successful heart transplant was performed by Dr. Christiaan
Barnard at Cape Town, South African, on Louis Washkansky, who lived
for 18 days.
December 3, 1984 -
A deadly gas leak (of methyl isocyanate) at a Union Carbide plant in
Bhopal, India, killed at least 3,000 persons and injured more than 200,000.
December 3, 1993 - Britain's Princess Diana announced she was stepping out of the public
spotlight, desiring more privacy amid unyielding attention from the
tabloid press and 'paparazzi.'
Birthday - American
portrait painter Charles Stuart (1755-1828) was born near Narragansett,
Rhode Island. Best known for his portraits of George Washington, James
Madison, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson.
Birthday - Polish
novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was born in the Ukraine (as Josef
Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski). Although he could speak no English at age
20, he went on to become an outstanding novelist, best known for his
tales of seafaring life including Heart of Darkness and Lord
December 4, 1791 - The Observer, now the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world,
was first published in Britain.
December 4, 1829 - The British banned the practice of "suttee" in India
in which Indian females traditionally burned themselves to death on their husband's
December 4, 1918 - The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed.
December 4, 1943 - During World War II, the second Cairo Conference took place, attended
by Prime Minister Churchill, President Roosevelt and President Inonu
December 4, 1991 - The last American hostage held in Lebanon was released. Journalist
Terry Anderson of the Associated Press had been kidnapped on March 16,
1985 and held for 2,454 days by Islamic Jihad (Holy War) captors. He
was one of 15 Americans held hostage for periods ranging from two months
to more than six years. Three of the hostages; William Buckley, Peter Kilburn
and Lieutenant Colonel William Higgins, were killed during their captivity.
The others were released one or two at a time.
Birthday - Scottish
essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was born in the
village of Ecclefechan, Scotland. He wrote a three volume history of
the French Revolution. Other works included; Heroes and Hero-Worship, Life and Letters of Oliver Cromwell and Frederick the Great.
December 5 Return
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December 5, 1492 - Haiti was discovered by Christopher Columbus.
December 5, 1791 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died a pauper at age 35 in Vienna, Austria.
He had become seriously ill and rapidly declined, leading
to speculation that he had been poisoned, although this was later proven
false. During his brief life, he created over 600 musical compositions
and is widely considered one of the finest composers who ever lived.
December 5, 1876 - President Ulysses S. Grant delivered a speech of apology to Congress
claiming mistakes he made as president were "errors of judgment,
December 5, 1933 - The 18th Amendment (Prohibition Amendment) to the U.S. Constitution
was repealed. For nearly 14 years, since January 29, 1920, it had outlawed
the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages in
December 5, 1955 - In Alabama, the Montgomery bus boycott began in response to the arrest
of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to
a white man. Organized by the African American community, the boycott
lasted until December 20, 1956, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling integrated
the public transportation system.
December 5, 1955 - The AFL-CIO was founded after two separate labor organizations, the
American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations,
joined together following 20 years of rivalry, thus becoming the leading
advocate for trade unions in the U.S.
Birthday - Martin van Buren (1782-1862)
the 8th U.S. President was born in Kinderhook, New York. He was the
first President who was born a citizen of the United States. He served
from March 4, 1837 to March 3, 1841.
Birthday - George Armstrong Custer was
born in New Rumley, Harrison County, Ohio. He graduated from West Point
at the bottom of his class in 1861, then became a dashing cavalry officer in
the Civil War and fought at Bull Run. He was appointed brigadier general
and served gallantly at Gettysburg and in the Virginia campaigns. After
the war, he took part in the Western expedition against the Sioux Indians.
In June of 1867, Custer and over 200 of his soldiers from the U.S. 7th
Cavalry were killed by Sioux warriors at Little Bighorn in Montana.
Birthday - Walt
Disney (1901-1966) was born in Chicago, Illinois. As a little boy, he
liked to draw farm animals and eventually got a job as an artist. He
moved to Hollywood and in 1928 produced Steamboat Willie, starring
Mickey Mouse, in the first cartoon with synchronized sound. In 1937,
he released his full length animated film, Snow White and the Seven
Dwarfs. He opened the Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, California,
in 1955. Five years after his death, Disney World opened in Florida.
The company he founded has since grown into a global entertainment empire.
December 6, 1492 - The island of Hispaniola was discovered by Christopher Columbus. Today
the island is divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
December 6, 1865 - The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified abolishing
slavery, stating, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, save
as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,
shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their
December 6, 1877 - At his laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, Thomas Edison spoke
the children's verse "Mary had a Little Lamb..." while demonstrating
his newly invented phonograph which utilized a revolving cylinder wrapped
in tinfoil to record sounds.
December 6, 1917 - Two ships collided at Halifax, Nova Scotia, resulting in an explosion
that killed more than 1,500 persons and injured 8,000. The Norwegian
ship Imo collided with the French munitions ship Mont Blanc which was loaded with supplies for the war in Europe, including
5,000 tons of TNT. A tidal wave caused by the explosion destroyed much
of the city.
December 6, 1921 - The Irish Free State became an independent member of the British Commonwealth.
December 6, 1971 -
The Democratic Republic of Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, was recognized
by India. Pakistan then broke off diplomatic relations with India.
December 6, 1973 - Gerald Ford was sworn in as vice president under Richard Nixon following
the resignation of Spiro Agnew who pleaded no contest to charges of
income tax evasion.
December 6, 1978 - In Spain, a new constitution was approved by referendum, providing
for a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary form of government.
Birthday - American
poet Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918) was born in New Brunswick, New
Jersey. Best known for his poem Trees, published in 1913. He
was killed in action during World War I near Ourcy, France. The U.S.
Army's Camp Kilmer was named in his honor.
Birthday - American
lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) was born in New York City. He collaborated
with his brother George to create many Broadway successes including; Lady Be Good, Funny Face, Strike Up the Band, and
songs such as The Man I Love, Someone to Watch Over Me, and I Got Rhythm.
Birthday - Photojournalist
Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995) was born in Dirschau, Prussia. Best known
for his Life magazine cover photos, including the sailor kissing
a nurse in Time's Square, celebrating the end of World War II.
December 7, 43 B.C. -
Cicero (Marcus Tullius) died. He was a writer, statesman, and was considered
ancient Rome's greatest orator.
December 7, 1787 - Delaware became the first state to adopt the new constitution of the
United States of America.
December 7, 1941 - The U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by nearly 200 Japanese aircraft in a raid that lasted just over one
hour and left nearly 3,000 Americans dead.
Birthday - Wax modeler
Marie Tussaud (1761-1850) was born in Bern, Switzerland. She established
Madame Tussaud's waxworks in London in 1802 and later added a Chamber of
December 8, 1940 - During the Blitz, the House of
Commons and Tower of London were seriously damaged amid an overnight
air raid by German bombers on London.
December 8, 1941 - A day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States
and Britain declared war on Japan.
December 8, 1980 - Former Beatle musician John Lennon was assassinated in New
December 8, 1987 - President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Russia's General Secretary Mikhail
Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty eliminating
all intermediate-range and shorter-range nuclear missiles.
December 8, 1991 - The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) ceased to exist, as
the leaders of Russia, Byelorussia and the Ukraine signed an agreement
creating the Commonwealth of Independent States. The remaining republics of the former USSR,
with the exception of Georgia, joined the new Commonwealth.
Birthday - Cotton
gin inventor Eli Whitney (1765-1825) was born in Westboro, Massachusetts. His
invention used comb-like teeth to remove seeds from harvested cotton
and had a tremendous impact on the economy of the South. By 1800, cotton
production increased from about 3,000 bales a year to 73,000. He also
developed the concept of mass production of interchangeable parts and
the assembly line.
Birthday - General
Motors founder William C. "Billy" Durant (1861-1947) was born
in Boston, Massachusetts.
Birthday - Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. He created large works for
display in the U.S. which aroused controversy due to his political point
of view as a Communist. In 1933, his fresco Man at the Crossroads was removed from Rockefeller Center in New York City amid claims it
included a figure resembling Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. A year earlier,
a mural done for the Detroit Institute of Arts had been criticized as
irreligious. Following these controversies, he was denied further commissions
in the U.S., although his work remained popular in Mexico.
Birthday - American
humorist and artist James Thurber (1894-1961) was born in Columbus,
Ohio. Best known for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
December 9, 1941 - During World War II, China issued a formal declaration of war against
Japan, Germany and Italy.
December 9, 1948 - The United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It took effect
on January 12, 1951, following ratification by 20 member nations.
December 9, 1958 - The John Birch Society was founded in the U.S. by Robert H.W. Welch
as an anti-Communist political organization named for Capt. John Birch,
a U.S. Army officer killed in 1945 by Chinese Communists.
December 9, 1990 - Lech Walesa won a landslide victory in the Polish presidential election.
December 9, 1992 - Buckingham Palace announced the separation of Prince Charles and Princess
of Wales, Dianna.
December 9, 1993 - A five-day repair job in space on the $3 billion Hubble Space Telescope
was finished by U.S. astronauts.
December 9, 1994 - Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army's political wing, held its
first formal talks with Britain in over 70 years.
December 9, 1998 - Swiss politicians elected Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss as
president, making her the first woman to lead the Swiss government.
Birthday - British poet John Milton (1608-1674) was born in London. Considered
second only to Shakespeare in importance, his works include; Paradise
Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, the pamphlets Of Reformation
Touching Church Discipline, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates and Pro Populo Anglicano.
Birthday - American
industrialist Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956) was born in Brooklyn, New
York. He developed a method of deep-freezing foods and was one of the
founders of General Foods Corp.
December 10 Return
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December 10, 1896 - Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel died at San Remo, Italy. His will stipulated
that income from his $9 million estate be used for awards recognizing
persons who have made valuable contributions to humanity. Nobel recipients
are chosen by a committee of the Norwegian parliament. Prizes for Peace,
Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Economics are presented
annually in a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, on the anniversary of his
death. Each prize is valued at about $1 million.
December 10, 1898 - The Treaty of Paris was signed between American and Spanish representatives
following Spain's defeat in the Spanish-American War. Under the treaty,
the U.S. gained the Philippine Islands, the islands of Guam and Puerto
Rico, and an agreement by Spain to withdraw from Cuba. The treaty passed
by a single vote in the U.S. Senate on February 6, 1899, and was signed
by President William McKinley four days later.
December 10, 1941 - During World War II, British Battleships Repulse and Prince of Wales were sunk by Japanese warplanes in the South China Sea, killing nearly
December 10, 1948 - The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted
and proclaimed the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
December 10, 1950 - Dr. Ralph Bunche became the first African American man awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize, for his efforts in mediation between Israel and nearby
Arab states the previous year.
December 10, 1989 - The first non-Communist government since 1948 assumed power in Czechoslovakia.
Birthday - Educator
Thomas Gallaudet (1787-1851) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He co-founded the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut,
Birthday - Poet
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her poetry became
known only after her death when her sister discovered nearly 2,000 poems
locked in her bureau, written on the backs of envelopes and scraps of
paper. They were published gradually over the next 50 years, beginning
Birthday - American
librarian Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) was born in Adams Center, New York.
He invented the Dewey decimal book classification system, advocated
spelling reform, and urged use of the metric system.
December 11, 1845 - The first Anglo-Sikh War in India began as the Sikhs attacked British
colonial forces. The Sikhs were defeated after four battles. Part of
the Punjab region of northwestern India was then annexed by the British.
December 11, 1901 - The first transatlantic radio signal was transmitted by Guglielmo
Marconi from Cornwall, England, to St. John's, Newfoundland.
December 11, 1936 - King Edward VIII abdicated
the throne of England to marry "the woman I love," a twice-divorced
American named Wallis Warfield Simpson. They were married in France
on June 3, 1937, and then lived in Paris.
December 11, 1941 - A major turning point in World War II occurred as Japan's Axis partners,
Italy and Germany, both declared war on the United States. The U.S.
Congress immediately declared war on them. President Roosevelt then
made the defeat of Hitler the top priority, devoting nearly 90 percent
of U.S. military resources to the war in Europe.
December 11, 1994 - Russia sent tanks and troops into Chechnya to end the rebel territory's
three-year drive for independence.
December 11, 1998 - The House Judiciary Committee approved three articles
of impeachment charging President Bill Clinton with perjury and
obstruction of justice.
Birthday - New York Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia (1882-1947) was born in New York City. A beloved, gregarious politician,
"The Little Flower" (the meaning of Fiorello) served as a
U.S. Congressman and was then elected three times as mayor of New York
City beginning in 1933. He was a liberal Republican who supported organized
labor, women's rights and child labor laws. As mayor of New York, he
reformed the city government and battled corruption, but kept his sense of humor. "When I make
a mistake it's a beaut!" he once joked.
December 12, 1870 - Joseph Hayne Rainey of Georgetown, South Carolina, became the first
African American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. He filled
a seat which had been declared vacant by the House and served until
December 12, 1998 - The House Judiciary Committee approved a fourth and final article
of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with
making false statements in his answers to written questions from Congress.
Birthday - American
statesman John Jay (1745-1829) was born in New York City. He was a diplomat
and the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He co-wrote (with
Alexander Hamilton and James Madison) the Federalist Papers.
Birthday - Abolitionist William LLoyd Garrison (1805-1879) was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He founded the Liberator anti-slavery newspaper in 1831 and published it for the next fifty years.
He also traveled throughout America delivering scathing antislavery
speeches, even advocating that the North should secede from the South. In
1854, he burned a copy of the U.S. Constitution, declaring, "So
perish all compromises with tyranny!"
Birthday - French
author Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) was born in Rouen. Best known for
the novel Madame Bovary, a tale of a woman's revolt against
middle class society.
December 13, 1545 - The Council of Trent, summoned by Pope Paul III, met to discuss doctrinal
matters including the rise of Protestantism.
December 13, 1577 - Francis Drake departed Plymouth, England, in the Golden Hind on his voyage around the world.
December 13, 1642 - New Zealand was discovered by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman of the Dutch
East India Company.
December 13, 1862 - During the American Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg occurred in
Virginia as the Union Army of the Potomac under General Burnside suffered
a costly defeat, losing 12,653 men after 14 frontal assaults
on well entrenched Rebels on Marye's Heights. "We might as well
have tried to take hell," a Union soldier remarked. Confederate
losses were 5,309. "It is well that war is so terrible - we should
grow too fond of it," stated Confederate General Robert E. Lee during
December 13, 1937 - The beginning of one of the worst atrocities of World War II as the
Chinese city of Nanking (Nanjing) was captured by the Japanese. Over
the next six weeks, the Rape of Nanking occurred in which Japanese
soldiers randomly attacked, raped and indiscriminately killed an estimated
200,000 Chinese persons.
December 13, 1981 - In its struggle to maintain Communism, the Polish government imposed
martial law and took steps to stifle the growing power of the pro-democratic
trade union Solidarity.
December 13, 1991 - North and South Korea signed a treaty of reconciliation and nonaggression
which also formally ended the Korean War, although actual fighting had
ceased in 1953.
Birthday - German
writer Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) was born in Dusseldorf. Best known
for his statement made a hundred years before the advent of book-burning Nazis
in Germany - "Where books are burned, human beings are destined
to be burned too."
Birthday - Mary Todd (1818-1882) was born in Lexington, Kentucky. She became
the wife of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President.
Birthday - American
clergyman and composer Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) was born in Boston,
Massachusetts. He wrote the lyrics for the popular Christmas Carol, O Little Town of
December 14, 1799 - George Washington died at Mount Vernon.
December 14, 1861 - In Britain, Prince Albert died of typhoid at Windsor Castle. He was
the consort and husband of Queen Victoria of England. Following his
death, the Queen went into an extended period of mourning.
December 14, 1911 - Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach
the South Pole.
December 14, 1918 - British women voted for the first time in a general election and were
allowed to run for office.
December 14, 1927 - Britain recognized independent Iraq and supported Iraqi admission
to the League of Nations.
December 14, 1935 - Thomas Masaryk, founder and first president of the Czechoslovak Republic,
resigned and was succeeded by Edvard Benes.
December 14, 1939 - The League of Nations expelled Soviet Russia for its aggression
December 14, 1962 - The Mariner II space probe sent back information from the planet Venus,
the first information ever received from another planet.
December 14, 1995 - A Bosnian peace treaty was signed in Paris by leaders from the former
Yugoslavia. The treaty ended Europe's worst conflict since World War
Birthday - French
physician Nostradamus (1503-1566) was born in St. Remy, Provence, France
(as Michel de Notredame). He wrote astrological predictions in rhymed
quatrains, believed by many to foretell the future.
Birthday - World War II General James
Doolittle (1896-1993) was born in Alameda, California. On April
18, 1942, he led a squadron of B-25 bombers launched
from the aircraft carrier Hornet to conduct the first American
air raid of the war against mainland Japan. He also headed the Eighth Air Force during the
Normandy invasion and was awarded the Medal of Honor.
December 15 Return
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December 15, 1791 - The Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution)
became effective following ratification by Virginia.
December 15, 1840 - Napoleon was buried in Les Invalides in Paris. He had died in exile
on the island of Saint Helena after his fall from power.
December 15, 1890 - Sioux leader Sitting Bull (native name Tatanka-yatanka) was killed
in a skirmish with U.S. soldiers along the Grand River in South Dakota
as his warriors tried to prevent his arrest.
December 15, 1939 - Gone with the Wind had its world premiere in Atlanta, introduced
by producer David O. Selznick and featuring appearances by Vivien Leigh
and Clark Gable.
December 15, 1943 - The Battle of San Pietro took place during World War II as a German
panzer battalion devastated American forces trying to take the 700-year-old
Italian village. Hollywood director John Huston, serving as an army
lieutenant, filmed the battle and left behind a graphic account.
December 15, 1961 - Nazi SS-Colonel Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death in Jerusalem
for his role in the Holocaust. Eichmann had organized the deportation
of Jews from all over occupied Europe to Nazi death camps.
December 15, 1964 - Canada adopted a new national flag featuring a red maple leaf on a
December 15, 1989 - The dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet ended in Chile. Pinochet
had come to power in 1973 after a military overthrow of the democratically
December 15, 1993 - The GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) Treaty was approved
by delegations from 117 countries. The treaty was designed to reduce
international tariffs, eliminate trade quotas, and protect intellectual
December 15, 1995 - European Union leaders announced their new currency would be known
as the Euro.
Birthday - French
engineer Alexandre Eiffel (1832-1923) was born in Dijon, France. He
designed the Eiffel Tower for the Paris International Exposition of
1889. He also helped design the Statue of Liberty.
December 16, 1653 - Following the defeat of King Charles I in the English Civil War, Oliver
Cromwell, leader of the Parliamentary forces, was declared Lord Protector
December 16, 1773 - The Boston Tea Party occurred as colonial activists disguised as Mohawk
Indians boarded British ships anchored in Boston Harbor and dumped 342
containers of expensive tea into the water.
December 16, 1835 - A massive fire erupted in New York City, destroying more than 600
buildings, causing an estimated $20 million in damages.
December 16, 1944 - American big-band leader Glenn Miller disappeared in a small plane
over the English Channel and was presumably killed. Best remembered
for Moonlight Serenade and In the Mood.
December 16, 1944 - During World War II in Europe, the Battle of the Bulge began as the Germans
launched a big counter-offensive in the Ardennes Forest along a 75-mile
front, taking American troops by surprise. Aided by foggy, snowy weather,
the Germans penetrated 65 miles into Allied lines by the end of December.
The German advance was eventually halted by Montgomery on the Meuse
and Patton at Bastogne. As the weather cleared, Allied aircraft attacked
German ground forces and supply lines and the counter-offensive failed.
There were an estimated 77,000 Allied and 130,000 German casualties.
December 16, 1969 - The British House of Commons voted 343-185 to abolish the death penalty
December 16, 1991 - The United Nations voted to revoke Resolution 3379, originally approved
on November 10, 1975, which had equated Zionism (a movement supporting
the Jewish national state of Israel) with racism.
Birthday - Ludwig
van Beethoven (1770-1827) was born in Bonn, Germany. He created powerful,
emotional music and is widely consider the greatest orchestral composer
who ever lived. He suffered from hearing loss before he was 30 and by
the time of his last (Ninth) symphony, he was completely deaf. In 1824,
he conducted the Ninth Symphony at its world premier in Vienna although
he was unable to hear either the orchestra or the applause. In all,
he composed nine symphonies, 32 piano sonatas, five piano concerti,
17 string quartets, ten sonatas for violin and piano, the opera Fidelio,
the Mass in C Major, Missa Solemnis, and other chamber music.
British novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817) was born in Hampshire, England. She
wrote love stories concerning the lives of gentry in rural England.
Best known for Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger
Abbey, and Emma. In recent years her works have been made
into very popular TV mini-series and movies.
Birthday - Philosopher
George Santayana (1863-1952) was born in Madrid, Spain. As a child he
emigrated to the U.S. and eventually became a teacher at Harvard University.
Best known for stating, "Those who cannot remember the past are
condemned to repeat it."
Birthday - Anthropologist
Margaret Mead (1901-1978) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She
studied primitive peoples in the Southwest Pacific and was known for
her outspoken manner regarding social issues such as women's rights,
child rearing, population control and world hunger.
December 17, 1538 - Pope Paul III excommunicated King Henry VIII after he had declared
himself supreme head of the Church in England.
December 17, 1777 - At Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, the Continental Army led by General
George Washington settled in for the winter.
December 17, 1971 - The war between India and Pakistan over East Pakistan (later Bangladesh)
ended as 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered.
December 17, 1903 - After three years of experimentation, Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved
the first powered, controlled airplane flights. They made four flights
near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the longest lasting about a minute.
Birthday - Deborah
Sampson (1760-1827) was born in Plympton, Massachusetts. During the American
Revolutionary War, she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the
Continental Army under the name Robert Shurtleff. Although she was wounded
in battle, she was not discovered until a severe fever unmasked her
identity. She was dismissed from the army in 1783. In later life, she
lectured professionally on her wartime experiences.
Birthday - Poet
and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was born in Haverhill,
Massachusetts. His books of poetry include Legends of New England and Snowbound.
December 18, 1916 - During World War I, the Battle of Verdun concluded after ten months
of fighting in which 543,000 French and 434,000 German soldiers
December 18, 1940 - Adolf Hitler ordered the German General Staff to begin planning Operation
Barbarossa, the invasion of Soviet Russia.
December 18, 1956 - Japan was admitted to the United Nations.
Birthday - West German Chancellor Willy Brandt (1913-1992) was born in Lubeck, Germany (as Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm).
During Hitler's regime, he was an anti-Nazi exile. He returned to Germany
after World War II, entered politics and was elected chancellor in 1969.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his efforts to improve East-West
relations during the Cold War.
December 19, 1732 - Benjamin Franklin first published Poor Richard's Almanac containing
weather predictions, humor, proverbs and epigrams, eventually selling
nearly 10,000 copies per year.
December 19, 1946 - War broke out in French Indochina as Ho Chi Minh attacked the French seeking
to oust them from Vietnam. This marked the beginning of a thirty-year conflict which eventually led to heavy U.S. involvement and ended with a Communist victory in April 1975 after
U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam.
December 19, 1998 - The House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton, approving
two out of four Articles of Impeachment, charging Clinton with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing
Birthday - British
explorer William Parry (1790-1855) was born in Bath, England. He conducted
Arctic expeditions and made three attempts to find a Northwest Passage.
Birthday - Historian
Carter Woodson (1875-1950) was born in New Canton, Virginia. He introduced
black studies to American colleges and universities. His works included; The Negro in Our History and The Education of the Negro Prior
December 20 Return
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December 20, 1606 - The Virginia Company expedition to America began as three small ships,
the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, departed
London under the command of Captain Christopher Newport. In May of 1607,
the royally chartered company established the first permanent English
settlement in America at Jamestown (Virginia).
December 20, 1699 - Czar Peter the Great changed the Russian New Year from September 1
to January 1 as part of his reorganization of the Russian calendar.
December 20, 1860 - South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union in
a prelude to the American Civil War.
Within two months Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana
and Texas seceded. In April 1861, Virginia seceded, followed within
five weeks by Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, thus forming
an eleven state Confederacy with a population of 9 million, including
nearly 4 million slaves. The Union had 21 states and a population of
over 20 million.
December 20, 1956 - The Montgomery bus boycott ended after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling
integrating the Montgomery bus system was implemented. The boycott by
African Americans had begun on December 5, 1955, after Rosa Parks was
arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white
December 20, 1989 - The U.S. invaded Panama attempting to capture Manuel Noriega on charges
of narcotics trafficking. Operation Just Cause occurred seven
months after Noriega had declared unfavorable election results in his
country to be null and void. The invasion toppled the Noriega government
and resulted in the installation of Guillermo Endara as president. Noriega
temporarily eluded capture, but surrendered a few weeks later to U.S.
troops. He was then tried, convicted, and imprisoned in the U.S.
Birthday - American
industrialist Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938) was born in Columbiana
County, Ohio. He founded Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. and was a close
friend of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
December 21st - Winter
begins in the Northern Hemisphere. In
the Southern Hemisphere today is the beginning of summer.
December 21, 1846 - Anesthesia was used for the first time in Britain during an operation
at University College Hospital in London performed by Robert Liston
who amputated the leg of a servant.
December 21, 1945 - World War II General George Patton died in Germany following a car accident. He had
been injured on December 9th near Mannheim and was taken to a hospital
in Heidelberg where he died. He was buried in Luxembourg. Nicknamed
"Old Blood and Guts," he once stated during the war, "We shall
attack and attack until we are exhausted, and then we shall attack again."
December 21, 1972 - East and West Germany established diplomatic ties, ending nearly two
decades of Cold War hostility and paving the way for international recognition
of East Germany.
December 21, 1988 - Pan American Flight 103 exploded in midair as the result of a terrorist
bomb and crashed into Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 passengers and crew
members along with 11 persons on the ground were killed.
December 21, 1993 - The KGB (Soviet Secret Police) organization was abolished by Russian President
Birthday - British
statesman Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) was born in London. He led the
Tory Party and twice held the post of prime minister. He was instrumental
in the expansion of the British Empire into India and the Middle East during
the reign of Queen Victoria. He also pioneered the concept of the political
novel and produced such works as Vivian Grey, Coningsby, and Lothair.
Birthday - Soviet Russia leader Josef Stalin (1879-1953) was born in the village of Gori in Georgia, Russia (as Iosif
December 22, 1783 - Following a triumphant journey from New York to Annapolis, Maryland, George
Washington, victorious Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolutionary
Army, appeared before Congress and voluntarily resigned his commission.
Birthday - Italian
composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) was born in Lucca, Tuscany. Widely
considered the greatest Italian opera composer, he is best known for
popular works such as Madama Butterfly and La Boheme.
Birthday - "Lady Bird" Johnson (1912-2007) was born in Karnack, Texas (as Claudia Alta Taylor). She was beside her husband Lyndon Johnson on board Air Force One when he was sworn in as the 36th U.S. President following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She proved to be a gracious First Lady, remembered for her anti-litter campaign, asking citizens to help "Beautify America."
December 23, 1888 - Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh cut off his left ear during a fit of
December 23, 1913 - The U.S. Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act establishing the Federal Reserve
System to serve as the nation's central bank. Chief responsibilities include:
execution of monetary policy; influencing the lending and investing
activities of commercial banks; and overseeing the cost and availability of money
December 23, 1947 - The transistor was invented at Bell Laboratories by John Bardeen,
Walter Brattain and William Shockley, who shared the Nobel Prize for
their invention which sparked a worldwide revolution in electronics.
December 23, 1948 - Hideki Tojo was hanged for war crimes. He had been Japanese prime
minister from 1941-44. Following Japan's defeat in World War II, he
was arrested as a war criminal, tried by a military tribunal and sentenced
to death. He was hanged along with six other Japanese wartime military
leaders at Sugamo Prison in Tokyo, with the sentence carried out by
the U.S. 8th Army.
December 23, 1987 - Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager set a new world record of 216 hours of
continuous flight around the world without refueling. Their aircraft Voyager traveled 24,986 miles at a speed of about 115 miles per
Birthday - Mormon
prophet Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was born in Sharon, Vermont. He founded
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Birthday - Japanese Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989) was born in Tokyo. He was Japan's
wartime Emperor and was allowed to remain in his position after
December 24, 1814 - The Treaty of Ghent between America and Britain was signed, officially
ending the War of 1812.
December 24, 1914 - The first-ever German air raid against Britain took place when a German
monoplane dropped a single bomb on Dover, England, during World War I.
December 24, 1942 - The first surface-to-surface guided missile, later known as the V-1
Flying Bomb, was launched by German rocket engineer Wernher von Braun.
Called "Buzz Bombs" for the loud buzzing sound of their motor, they were used by Nazi Germany against Britain
beginning in September 1944.
December 24, 1943 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander of the
Allied Expeditionary Force preparing for D-Day.
December 24, 1990 - On Christmas Eve, the bells of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow rang
for the first time since the death of Lenin.
December 24, 1992 - Caspar Weinberger and five other Reagan aides involved in the Iran-Contra
scandal were pardoned by President George Bush.
Birthday - American
patriot Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) was born on a plantation in Byberry,
Pennsylvania. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a
doctor and humanitarian, whose writings on mental illness earned him
the title "Father of Psychiatry." He also countered the prevailing
notion that alcohol was generally good for people and was one of the
first to describe alcoholism as a chronic disease.
Birthday - American
frontiersman Christopher "Kit" Carson (1809-1868) was born
in Madison County, Kentucky. He was a soldier, trapper, guide and Indian
agent in the Old West.
Birthday - Howard
Hughes (1905-1976) was born in Houston, Texas. He was a movie producer,
aviator and industrialist whose legendary desire for privacy generated
many rumors and much curiosity. Perhaps best remembered for designing
an eight-engine flying boat, nicknamed the Spruce Goose, which
was to carry 750 passengers, although it only made one brief test flight.
Birthday - Ignatius
Loyola (1491-1556) was born in northern Spain (as Inigo de Onaz y Loyola).
He founded the Catholic Jesuits (Society of Jesus).
December 25 Return
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December 25th - Christmas
Day, commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Although the exact
date of his birth is not known, it has been celebrated on December 25th
by the Western (Roman Catholic) Church since 336 A.D.
December 25, 1066 - William the Conqueror was crowned King of England after he had invaded
England from France, defeated and killed King Harold at the Battle of
Hastings, then marched on London.
December 25, 1776 - During the American Revolution, George Washington took 2,400 of his
men across the Delaware River. Washington then conducted a surprise
raid on 1,500 British-Hessians (German mercenaries) at Trenton, New
Jersey. The Hessians surrendered after an hour with nearly 1,000 taken
prisoner by Washington who suffered only six wounded (including future
president Lt. James Monroe). The victory provided a much needed boost
to American morale.
December 25, 1868 - President Andrew Johnson granted general amnesty to all those involved
in the Civil War.
December 25, 1926 - Hirohito became Emperor of Japan.
December 25, 1989 - In Romania, a television broadcast of a Christmas symphony was interrupted
with the announcement that Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife had been executed
following a popular uprising. A pro-democracy coalition then took control.
Ceausescu, a hard-line Communist, had been ousted from power after ordering
his black-shirted state police to suppress a disturbance in the town
of Timisorara, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 4,500 persons.
Birthday - Isaac
Newton (1642-1727) was born in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. He
was a mathematician, scientist and author, best known for his work Philosophiae
Naturalis Principia Mathematica on the theory of gravitation. He
died in London and was the first scientist to be honored with burial
in Westminster Abbey.
Birthday - American nurse and philanthropist Clara
Barton (1821-1912) was born in Oxford, Massachusetts. She served as a nurse
during the Civil War and in 1881 founded the American Red Cross.
Birthday - The founder
of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876-1948)
was born in Karachi.
Birthday - Film
actor Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) was born in New York City. Best known
for The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and To Have and Have Not.
December 26th - Boxing
Day in the United Kingdom and many other countries, a day of gift giving
when boxes of food, clothing and other gifts are traditionally given
to employees, tradespeople and other service providers.
December 26-January 1 -
Kwanzaa, an African American family observance established in 1966 celebrating
traditional African harvest festivals, focusing on family unity, with
a community harvest feast on the seventh day. Kwanzaa means "first
fruit" in Swahili.
December 26, 2004 - An estimated 230,000 persons were killed and 1.5 million left homeless when a magnitude 9.3 earthquake on the seafloor of the Indian Ocean set off a series of giant tsunami waves that smashed into the shorelines of a dozen countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and Somalia.
Birthday - Mao Tse-Tung (1893-1976) was born
in Hunan Province, China. He was a Chinese librarian, teacher, communist
revolutionist, considered the "founding father" of the People's
Republic of China.
December 27, 1831 - Charles Darwin set out from Plymouth, England, aboard the ship HMS
Beagle on his five-year global scientific expedition. Darwin collected
fossils and studied plants and animals, gradually beginning to doubt
that many diverse species of living things had sprung into existence
at one moment (creationism). In 1859, he published On the Origin
of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
December 27, 1927 - Josef Stalin consolidated his power in Soviet Russia by expelling rival Leon
Trotsky from the Soviet Communist Party.
December 27, 1945 - The International Monetary Fund was established in Washington, D.C.
December 27, 1949 - The Dutch transferred sovereignty of Indonesia to the new United States
of Indonesia. The new nation retained a formal association with the
Netherlands until 1954, when an independent Republic of Indonesia was
formed. Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia. It consists
of 13,677 islands along the equator between the Indian and Pacific oceans,
and a population of over 150 million.
December 27, 1996 - A genocide trial began concerning the killing of an estimated 800,000
Tutsis in Rwanda. In 1994, a bloody civil war had broken out between
the two main ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. After the Hutu army
seized power it had waged a campaign of "ethnic cleansing"
against the Tutsi population.
Birthday - German
astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was born in Wurttemberg, Germany.
Considered the father of modern astronomy, he discovered the elliptical
(oval) shape of the orbits in which the earth and other planets travel
around the sun at a speed that varies according to each planet's distance
from the sun.
Birthday - French
chemist-bacteriologist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) was born in Dole, France.
He developed the pasteurization process to kill harmful bacteria with
heat and found ways of preventing silkworm disease, anthrax, chicken cholera,
Birthday - Actress
Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) was born in Berlin, Germany. She starred
in The Blue Angel, the first 'talkie' made in Germany. She then
moved to Hollywood and starred in films including; Destry Rides Again,
Touch of Evil, Judgment at Nuremberg and Witness for the Prosecution.
In the 1950's she toured the world as a cabaret singer in a stage revue.
December 28, 1832 - John C. Calhoun became the first American ever to resign the
office of vice president. He served under Presidents John Quincy Adams
and Andrew Jackson and resigned after a series of political disagreements
with President Jackson. He went on to become a U.S. Senator from South
December 28, 1947 - Victor Emmanuel III, the last King of Italy, died while in exile in
Alexandria, Egypt. He had become king upon the assassination of his
father in 1900. Following World War I, he named Benito Mussolini to
form a cabinet and then failed to prevent Mussolini's Fascists from
seizing power. In 1946, he abdicated and went into exile.
Birthday - Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) the
28th U.S. President was born in Staunton, Virginia (as Thomas Woodrow
Wilson). He served two terms from 1912 through 1921. Best remembered
for stating, "The world must be made safe for democracy,"
while asking Congress for a declaration of war against Germany in 1917.
Following the death of his first, he married Edith Bolling Galt in 1915.
He had suffered a paralytic stroke in 1919 and never regained his health,
leading to speculation that his wife was actually running the White
House during his illness.
December 29, 1170 - Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by four knights
acting on orders from England's King Henry II.
December 29, 1890 - Members of the U.S. 7th Cavalry massacred more than 200 Native American
(Sioux) men, women and children at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota.
December 29-30, 1916 - In the waning days of the Romanov dynasty, Russian 'monk' Rasputin
(Grigory Yefimovich Novykh) was assassinated. A group of conspirators
had lured him to a private home then poisoned and shot him, although
he did not die. They then tied him up and threw him into the Neva River,
in which he drowned. Rasputin had gained enormous influence with Russian
Emperor Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra, claiming Divine inspiration
and the ability to perform miracles, especially in helping young
Nicky, the Czar's son who was a hemophiliac. He also urged severe measures in dealing with
the peasant masses and for a time had virtually dictated government
December 29, 1940 - During the Blitz, German aircraft dropped thousands of incendiary
bombs on the center of London, causing the worst fire damage since the
great fire of 1666. St. Paul's Cathedral survived but eight other Wren
churches along with the Guildhall and Old Bailey were badly damaged.
December 29, 1965 - During the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh rejected
unconditional peace talks offered by the U.S.
December 29, 1989 - Playwright and human rights activist Vaclav Havel was sworn in as
president of Czechoslovakia. He had formerly been denounced by Czech
Communists as an enemy of the state and had spent five years in jail
for his beliefs.
Birthday - Andrew Johnson (1808-1875)
the 17th U.S. President was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was
Abraham Lincoln's vice president and became President upon Lincoln's
assassination in 1865. He went on to become the first President
impeached by the House of Representatives. He was acquitted in the
Senate by a single vote. He later served briefly as a Senator from
Tennessee until his death on July 31, 1875.
Birthday - Cellist
Pablo Casals (1876-1973) was born in Venrdell, Spain. He was one of
the most influential musicians of the 20th Century whose superb ability
in playing the cello set new performance standards.
December 30, 1803 - The Stars and Stripes flag was raised over New Orleans as the United
States took formal possession of the territory of Louisiana, an area
of 885,000 square miles, nearly doubling the size of the U.S. The
territory had been purchased from France for approximately $15 million.
December 30, 1862 - During the American Civil War, the Union ironclad ship USS Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, during a storm, resulting in the loss of sixteen
December 30, 1903 - In Chicago, a fire inside the Iroquois Theater killed 588 persons,
eventually resulting in new fire safety codes for theaters.
December 30, 1922 - The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was established through
the confederation of Russia, Byelorussia, Ukraine and the Transcaucasian
December 30, 1947 - King Michael of Romania was forced to abdicate after the Communists
December 30, 1988 - President Ronald Reagan and President-elect George Bush were subpoenaed
to testify in the trial of Oliver North, a former White House aide implicated
in the Iran-Contra affair in which arms were secretly sold to Iran while
profits from the sale were diverted to guerrillas trying to topple the
Nicaraguan government in South America.
December 30, 1993 - Israel and the Vatican signed an agreement on mutual recognition,
seeking to end 2,000 years of unfriendly Christian-Jewish relations.
Birthday - Rudyard
Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay, India. He was a British poet,
novelist, short story writer, best known for his children's stories
such as the Jungle Book.
Birthday - Japanese
Prime Minister Hideki Tojo (1884-1948) was born in Tokyo. He led Japan
during World War II and was arrested in August 1945 as a war criminal,
tried, then hanged in 1948.
December 31st - New
Year's Eve, the final evening of the Gregorian calendar year, traditionally
a night for merry-making to welcome in the new year.
December 31, 1781 - The first bank in the U.S., the Bank of North America, received its
charter from the Confederation Congress. It opened on January 7, 1782,
December 31, 1879 - Thomas Edison provided the first public demonstration of his electric
incandescent lamp at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
December 31, 1971 - Austrian Kurt Waldheim became U.N. Secretary-General following the retirement
of U Thant. Waldheim served until 1981 then resumed his career in Austrian
politics. In 1986, he ran for the presidency. During the campaign, it
was revealed he had likely given false information concerning his military
service in the German Army during World War II. He claimed he left the
army in 1942 after being wounded on the Russian Front, but allegations
arose that he was actually lieutenant in 1943-44 stationed in the Balkans
when Greek Jews were rounded up and sent to Nazi death camps and when
atrocities were committed against Yugoslav resistance fighters.
Birthday - George C. Marshall (1880-1959)
was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He had genius for organization
and served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army throughout World War II,
expanding the Army from 130,000 to 8,300,000 men. He then served as
Secretary of State under President Truman and designed the Marshall
Plan for the relief of war torn Europe and to halt the spread of Communism.
(Photo and picture credits:
Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives)