Today in History: December 20. What Happened This Day In History

A chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.

Today in History
December 20

69   Vespians’s supporters enter Rome and discover Vitellius in hiding. He is dragged through the streets before being brutally murdered.
1355   Stephen Urosh IV of Serbia dies while marching to attack Constantinople.
1802   The United States buys the Louisiana territory from France.
1860   South Carolina secedes from the Union.
1861   English transports loaded with 8,000 troops set sail for Canada so that troops are available if the "Trent Affair" is not settled without war.
1924   Adolf Hitler is released from prison after serving less than one year of a five year sentence for treason.
1930   Thousands of Spaniards sign a revolutionary manifesto.
1933   The German government announces 400,000 citizens are to be sterilized because of hereditary defects.
1938   First electronic television system is patented.
1941   The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, enter combat against the Japanese over Kunming.
1943   Soviet forces halt a German army trying to relieve the besieged city of Stalingrad.
1946   Viet Minh and French forces fight fiercely in Annamite section of Hanoi.
1948   U.S. Supreme Court announces that it has no jurisdiction to hear the appeals of Japanese war criminals sentenced by the International Military Tribunal.
1960   National Liberation Front is formed by guerrillas fighting the Diem regime in South Vietnam.
1962   In its first free election in 38 years, the Dominican Republic chooses leftist Juan Bosch Gavino as president.
1963   Four thousand cross the Berlin Wall to visit relatives under a 17-day Christmas accord.
1989   U.S. troops invade Panama to oust General Manuel Noriega and replace him with Guillermo Endara.
1995   NATO begins peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.
1996   NeXT merges with Apple Computer, leading to the development of groundbreaking Mac OS X.
2007   Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest monarch in the history of the UK; previously, that honor belonged to Queen Victoria.
Born on December 20
1868   Harvey Firestone, industrialist and tire maker.
1881   Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1901   Robert J. Van de Graff, physicist, invented the Van de Graaff generator.
1904   Virgil "Spud" Davis, pro baseball catcher, coach, scout and manager.
1914   Harry F. Byrd Jr., first independent ever elected to US Senate by a majority of the popular vote (Virginia).
1921   George Roy Hill, film director (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting).
1946   Dick Wolf, television producer (Miami Vice, Law & Order).
1948   Alan Parsons, musician (The Alan Parsons Project); producer who was involved with The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.
1963   Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, elder daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain; fourth in line of succession to the Spanish throne.
1976   Adam Powell, Welsh game designer; co-founder of Neopets and Meteor Games companies.

Subscribe and save!

Get inside articles from the world's premier publisher of history magazines. Our line of historical magazines includes America's Civil War, American History, Aviation History, Civil War Times, Military History, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Vietnam, Wild West and World War II.