What happened on your birthday?

more events on December 11

  • 2012

    US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is attacked and burned down; 4 Americans are killed including the US ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens.

  • 2008

    Bernard “Bernie” Madoff arrested and charged with securities fraud in what was called a $50-billion Ponzi scheme.

  • RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2)sets sail on her final voyage, bound for Dubai.

  • 2007

    Russia detonates a nano-bomb; dubbed the “Father of All Bombs,” it is the largest non-nuclear weapon developed to date.

  • 2006

    President of Mexico Felipe Calderon launches a military-led offensive against drug cartel violence in the state of Michoacan.

  • Queen Elizabeth II unveils New Zealand War Memorial in London.

  • 2005

    Cronulla riots begin in Cronulla, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Israel completes its unilateral disengagement of all Israeli civilians and military from the Gaza Strip.

  • 2004

    Palestine Liberation organization confirms the death of its longtime chairman Yasser Arafat; cause of death has never been conclusively determined.

  • New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior dedicated at the National War Museum, Wellington.

  • 2003

    NATO assumes command of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, its first major operation outside Europe.

  • Temperatures rise to 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius); over 140 people die in the heat wave.

  • Illinois Gov. George Ryan commutes the death sentences of 167 prisoners on the state’s death row in the wake of allegations that Chicago police detective and commander Jon Burge tortured confessions from some 200 suspects over a 19 year period.

  • 2001

    People’s Republic of China joins the World Trade Organization.

  • Journalists Pierre Billaud (France), Johanne Sutton (France) and Voker Handloik (Germany) killed in Afghanistan during an attack on the convoy in which they were traveling.

  • The Polaroid Corporation, which had provided shutterbugs with photo prints in minutes with its “instant cameras” since 1947, files for bankruptcy.

  • In an unprecedented, highly coordinated attack, terrorists hijack four U.S. passenger airliners, flying two into the World Trade Center towers in New York and one into the Pentagon, killing thousands. The fourth airliner, headed toward Washington likely to strike the White House or Capitol, is crashed just over 100 miles away in Pennsylvania after passengers storm the cockpit and overtake the hijackers.

  • 2000

    NASA launches its 100th Space Shuttle mission.

  • 1999

    House of Lords Act reforming Britain’s House of Lords, given Royal Assent; the act removed the right to hereditary seats (sitting members were permitted to remain).

  • A tornado in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, kills one person.

  • 1997

    The Kyoto Protocol international treaty intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses, opens for signature.

  • 1996

    Forty-three African nations sign the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.

  • 1995

    Full diplomatic relations are established between the United States and Vietnam.

  • 1994

    The Irish Government announces an end to a 15-year ban on broadcasting by the IRA and its political branch, Sinn Fein.

  • 1993

    Sculpture honoring women who served in the Vietnam War dedicated at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

  • 1991

    Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas begin.

  • The United Nations Security Council issues formal ceasefire with Iraq.

  • 1990

    Troops from Egypt and Morocco arrive in Saudi Arabia as part of the international operation to prevent Iraq from invading.

  • Lithuania declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

  • South African political leader Nelson Mandela is released from prison in Paarl, South Africa, after serving more than 27 years of a life sentence.

  • 1989

    Voyager 2 discovers two partial rings around Neptune.

  • 1988

    Al Qaeda formed at a meeting in Peshawar, Pakistan.

  • 1987

    An unidentified buyer buys Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Irises” from the estate of Joan Whitney Payson for $53.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York.

  • Operation Pawan by Indian Peace Keeping Force begins in Sri Lanka; thousands of Tamil citizens, along with hundreds of Tamil Tigers militants and Indian Army soldiers will die in the operation.

  • Margaret Thatcher wins her third consecutive term as Prime Minister.

  • 1986

    Dodge Morgan sails solo nonstop around the world in 150 days.

  • 1985

    Mikhail Gorbachev is named the new Soviet leader.

  • 1984

    Astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan, part of the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger, becomes the first American woman to walk in space.

  • Carl Lewis wins four Olympic gold medals, tying the record Jesse Owens set in 1936.

  • 1981

    Hamish Blake, Australian comedian, actor, author; won Gold Logie Award for “Most Popular Personality on Television”; half of award-winning comedy duo Hamish and Andy (Andy Lee).

  • Military forces in El Salvador kill over 800 civilians in what is known as the El Mozote massacre during the Salvadoran Civil War.

  • President Ronald Reagan returns to the White House from hospital after recovery from an assassination attempt.

  • 1980

    Honda announces it will build the first Japanese-owned passenger-car assembly plant in the United States–in Ohio.

  • 1978

    Massive demonstrations take place in Tehran against the shah.

  • Funeral of Pope Paul VI.

  • 1976

    The so-called “Gang of Four,” Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s widow and three associates, are arrested in Peking, setting in motion an extended period of turmoil in the Chinese Communist Party.

  • 1975

    Saturday Night Live comedy-variety show premiers on NBC, with guest host comedian George Carlin and special guests Janis Ian, Andy Kaufman and Billy Preston; at this writing (2013) the show is still running.

  • US vetoes admission of North and South Vietnam to UN.

  • Archaeologists unearth an army of 8,000 life-size clay figures created more than 2,000 years ago for the Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

  • Mrs. Margaret Thatcher becomes the first woman to lead the British Conservative Party.

  • 1974

    Bettina Goislard, first United Nations worker to be killed in Afghanistan (Nov. 16, 2003) since the fall of the Taliban in December 2001; she was a French employee of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, actor; (Titanic, The Great Gatsby) won Golden Globe for Best Actor (The Aviator, 2004).

  • Haile Selassie I is deposed from the Ethiopian throne.

  • The Judiciary committee subpoenas President Richard Nixon to produce tapes for impeachment inquiry.

  • Communist-led rebels shower artillery fire into a crowded area of Phnom Pehn, killing 139 and injuring 46 others.

  • 1973

    The Soviet Union is kicked out of World Cup soccer for refusing to play Chile.

  • Israel and Egypt sign a cease-fire.

  • An FBI agent is shot at Wounded Knee in South Dakota.

  • 1972

    Challenger, the lunar lander for Apollo 17, touches down on the moon’s surface, the last time that men visit the moon.

  • Race riot breaks out aboard carrier USS Kitty Hawk off Vietnam during Operation Linebacker.

  • A French mission in Vietnam is destroyed by a U.S. bombing raid.

  • The last U.S. ground forces withdraw from Vietnam.

  • American forces break the 95-day siege at An Loc in Vietnam.

  • 1970

    U.S. Army Special Forces raid the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam but find no prisoners.

  • 1969

    Levi-Strauss starts to sell bell-bottomed jeans.

  • 1968

    Apollo 7, with three men aboard, is successfully launched from Cape Kennedy.

  • President Johnson signs the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

  • 1967

    The Concorde, a joint British-French venture and the world’s first supersonic airliner, is unveiled in Toulouse, France.

  • Harry Connick Jr., Grammy and Emmy award-winning singer, musician, actor.

  • Israel and Syria accept a U. N. cease-fire.

  • The Siege of Khe Sanh ends with the base is still in American hands.

  • 1966

    The United States launches Gemini 12, a two-man orbiter, into orbit.

  • Princess Akishino, nee Kiko Kawashima, wife of Prince Akishino, second son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan. She is only the second commoner to marry into Japan’s royal family.

  • Three men are convicted of the murder of Malcolm X.

  • Vice President Hubert Humphrey begins a tour of Vietnam.

  • 1965

    Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria since 2000.

  • The 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) arrives in South Vietnam and is stationed at An Khe.

  • A small clash between the California Highway Patrol and two black youths sets off six days of rioting in the Watts area of Los Angeles.

  • The American navy begins inspecting Vietnamese junks in hopes of ending arms smuggling to the South.

  • President Lyndon Johnson orders air strikes against targets in North Vietnam, in retaliation for guerrilla attacks on the American military in South Vietnam.

  • 1964

    Frank Sinatra, Jr., is returned home to his parents after being kidnapped for the ransom amount of $240,000.

  • Cambodian Prince Sihanouk blames the United States for a South Vietnamese air raid on a village in his country.

  • A collection of previously unexhibited paintings by Pablo Picasso are displayed for the first time in Toronto.

  • 1963

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested in Florida for trying to integrate restaurants.

  • 1962

    Demi Moore, actress (Ghost, A Few Good Men); in 1996 became highest-paid actress in film history when she received $12.5 million to star in Striptease.

  • Pope John XXIII opens the 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) with a call for Christian unity. This is the largest gathering of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in history; among delegate-observers are representatives of major Protestant denominations, in itself a sign of sweeping change.

  • Thurgood Marshall is appointed a judge of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Poet and novelist Sylvia Plath commits suicide in London at age 30.

  • 1961

    Folk singer Bob Dylan performs in New York City for the first time, opening for John Lee Hooker.

  • Israel begins the trial of Adolf Eichman, accused of war crimes during WWII.

  • 1960

    Israeli soldiers capture Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires.

  • 1959

    Iran turns down Soviet aid in favor of a U.S. proposal for aid.

  • 1957

    Paul Sereno, paleontologist; discovered several new dinosaur species (including Sarcosuchus imperator, “SuperCroc”) on various continents.

  • 1955

    Israel raids Syrian positions on the Sea of Galilee.

  • Nationalist Chinese complete the evacuation of the Tachen Islands.

  • 1954

    A 75,000-watt light bulb is lit at the Rockefeller Center in New York, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s first light bulb.

  • 1953

    The polio virus is identified and photographed for the first time in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • Hulk Hogan, wrestler, actor (Assault on Devil’s Island); World Wrestling Federation heavyweight champion, 1984-89.

  • Walt Disney’s film Peter Pan premieres.

  • 1952

    Douglas Adams, British writer, (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

  • Ben Crenshaw, pro golfer; nicknamed “Gentle Ben,” he won the Masters Tournament in 1984 and 1995.

  • 1951

    Joe DiMaggio announces his retirement from baseball.

  • President Truman fires General Douglas MacArthur as head of United Nations forces in Korea.

  • U.N. forces push north across the 38th parallel for the second time in the Korean War.

  • 1950

    Christina Onassis, businesswoman; inherited and operated the Onassis shipping businessh.

  • The Federal Communications Commission authorizes the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) to begin commercial color TV broadcasts.

  • Gennady Nikonov, inventor of AN-94 assault rifle.

  • Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer.

  • Bill Irwin, actor and choreographer.

  • 1949

    Negotiations in China between the Nationalists and Communists open as Tientsin is virtually lost to the Communists.

  • 1948

    President Harry S. Truman proposes free, two-year community colleges for all who want an education.

  • 1946

    Daryl Hall, singer, songwriter, musician, producer; lead vocalist of Hall & Oates (“Rich Girl,” “Maneater”).

  • Marilyn Vos Savant, author, columnist, playwright; “Highest IQ (Women)” Guinness Book of World Records, 1986-1989 (category retired in 1990).

  • 1945

    A Boeing B-29 Superfortress shatters all records by crossing the United States in five hours and 27 minutes.

  • Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua (2007– ).

  • Chris Dreja, musician; guitarist and bass player for The Yardbirds.

  • Negotiations between Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek and Communist leader Mao Tse-tung break down. Nationalist and Communist troops are soon engaged in a civil war.

  • After two frustrating days of being repulsed and absorbing tremendous casualties, the Red Army finally takes the Seelow Heights north of Berlin.

  • The meeting of President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Marshal Joseph Stalin in Yalta, adjourns.

  • 1944

    Brenda Lee, singer; her 37 US chart hits in the 1960s is surpassed only by Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Ray Charles and Connie Francis (“I’m Sorry,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”).

  • Teri Garr, actress, dancer (Tootsie, Mr. Mom).

  • Private Eddie Slovik is convicted of desertion and sentenced to death for refusing to join his unit in the European Theater of Operations.

  • American troops enter Luxembourg.

  • German troops abandon Florence, Italy, as Allied troops close in on the historic city.

  • U.S. carrier-based planes attack Japanese airfields on Guam , Rota, Saipan and Tinian islands, preparing for the invasion of Saipan.

  • 1943

    John Kerry, politician; unsuccessful Democratic nominee for President of the United States (2004); secretary of state (2013– ).

  • U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull demands that Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria withdraw from the war.

  • Kenny Gamble, songwriter, record producer; a pioneer of the “Philadelphia Sound”  (“Ain’t Gonna Love Nobody,” “Me and Mrs. Jones”).

  • The Italian island of Pantelleria surrenders after a heavy air bombardment.

  • Jim Hightower, radio host, author, social activist; created concept of the “Doug Jones Average”—how is “Doug Jones” (i.e., your neighbor) doing financially—as a better measure of the economy than the Dow Jones Average.

  • The Soviet Red Army encircles Stalingrad.

  • 1942

    In the Battle of Cape Esperance, near the Solomon Islands, U.S. cruisers and destroyers decisively defeat a Japanese task force in a night surface encounter.

  • The German submarine U-73 attacks a Malta-bound British convoy and sinks HMS Eagle, one of the world’s first aircraft carriers.

  • In the RAF’s longest bombing raid of World War II, 44 British Lancaster bombers attack the Polish port of Danzig.

  • Detachment 101 of the OSS–a guerrilla force–is activated in Burma.

  • General Douglas MacArthur leaves Bataan for Australia.

  • The German battleships Gneisenau, Scharnhorst and Prinz Eugen begin their famed channel dash from the French port of Brest. Their journey takes them through the English Channel on their way back to Germany.

  • Japan invades the Dutch East Indies at Borneo.

  • 1941

    The United States declares war on Italy and Germany.

  • Soviet bombers raid Berlin but cause little damage.

  • Ellen Goodman, Pultizer Prize-winning columnist.

  • German bombers blitz Coventry, England.

  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizes the Lend-Lease Act which authorizes the act of giving war supplies to the Allies.

  • Adolf Hitler orders forces to be prepared to enter North Africa to assist the Italian effort, marking the establishment of the Afrika Korps.

  • 1940

    Donna Mills, actress (Knots Landing TV series, Play Misty for Me movie).

  • Britain’s Royal Navy attacks the Italian fleet at Taranto.

  • Theodore Olson, US Solicitor General under Pres. George W. Bush (2001-04).

  • Brian DePalma, film director (Dressed to Kill, Carlito’s Way)).

  • The Italian Air Force bombs the British fortress at Malta in the Mediterranean.

  • Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., becomes the U.S. Army’s first black general, his son would later become a general as well.

  • 1939

    Tom Hayden, social and political activist; author, politician.

  • Tom McGuane, novelist and screenwriter (The Sporting Club, Bushwacked Piano).

  • Charles M. “Chuck” Geschke, co-founder of Adobe Systems, Inc.

  • The Negrin government returns to Madrid, Spain.

  • 1938

    Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” is performed for the first time by singer Kate Smith.

  • 1937

    Jim Harrison, novelist and poet (Legends of the Fall).

  • Robert L. Crippen, US Navy captain, astronaut; former director of Kennedy Space Center.

  • 1936

    Britain’s King Edward VIII abdicates the throne to marry American Wallis Warfield Simpson.

  • James M. McPherson, historian specializing in the American Civil War; won Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom (1989).

  • The Reich arrests 150 Catholic youth leaders in Berlin.

  • 1935

    Albert Anderson and Orvil Anderson set a new altitude record in South Dakota, when they float to 74,000 feet in a balloon.

  • The German Air Force becomes an official organ of the Reich.

  • 1934

    The Disarmament Conference in Geneva ends in failure.

  • The German police raid the homes of dissident clergy in Berlin.

  • 1933

    Reports say Paraguay has captured 11,000 Bolivians in the war over Chaco.

  • The first of the great dust storms of the 1930s hits North Dakota.

  • Jerry Falwell, founder of the conservative political lobbying organization, the Moral Majority.

  • Louis Farrakhan, American religious leader.

  • 1932

    Dottie West, influential female country singer, songwriter; won Grammy for “Here Comes My Baby Back Again” (1965).

  • Athol Fugard, South African playwright, director and actor (The Blood Knot, “Master Harold” . . . and the Boys).

  • Joel Grey (Joe Katz), actor.

  • 1931

    Rod Taylor, actor (The Birds).

  • 1930

    As the economic crisis grows, the Bank of the United States closes its doors.

  • William Beebe, of the New York Zoological Society, dives to a record-setting depth of 1,426 feet off the coast of Bermuda, in a diving chamber called a bathysphere.

  • Stanley Elkin, author (George Mills).

  • President Howard Taft becomes the first U.S. president to be buried in the National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

  • 1929

    Babe Ruth hits his 500th major league home run against the Cleveland Indians.

  • 1928

    Carlos Fuentes, Mexican novelist and essayist.

  • Roscoe Robinson Jr., first African American to attain 4-star general status in the US Army.

  • 1927

    Nearly 400 world leaders sign a letter to President Calvin Coolidge asking the United States to join the World Court.

  • Theodore H. Maiman, physicist.

  • Charles Lindbergh, a captain in the US Army Air Corps Reserve, receives the first Distinguished Flying Cross ever awarded, for his solo trans-Atlantic flight.

  • 1926

    Willie “Big Mama” Thornton, blues singer.

  • Ralph David Abernathy, civil rights leader, associate of Dr. King.

  • The Mexican government nationalizes all church property.

  • 1925

    Jonathan Winters, comedian.

  • Elmore Leonard, author, screenwriter (Get Shorty, Mr. Majestyk).

  • William Styron, American novelist (The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie’s Choice).

  • Ethel Kennedy, wife of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

  • 1924

    Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, winning two Super Bowls.

  • 1923

    The French enter the town of Essen in the Ruhr valley, to extract Germany’s resources as war payment.

  • 1922

    Grace Paley, short story writer.

  • Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist (Slaughterhouse Five).

  • Canada’s Vernon McKenzie urges to fight U.S. propaganda with taxes on U.S. magazines.

  • 1921

    The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery is dedicated.

  • Alex Haley, genealogist and author of Roots.

  • 1919

    The first two-minutes’ silence is observed in Britain to commemorate those who died in the Great War.

  • 1918

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian writer and winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Famous for The Gulag Archipelago.

  • The German leaders sign the armistice ending World War I.

  • Jerome Robbins, choreographer, won Oscar for West Side Story.

  • Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist.

  • 1917

    Jessica Mitford, investigative journalist (The American Way of Death).

  • 1916

    The “Star Spangled Banner” is sung at the beginning of a baseball game for the first time in Cooperstown, New York.

  • The Russia army takes Stanislau, Poland, from the Germans.

  • Russian General Yudenich launches a WWI winter offensive and advances west.

  • 1915

    British troops take Cameroon in Africa.

  • 1913

    Vince Lombardi, American football coach.

  • 1912

    Moroccan Sultan Mulai Hafid abdicates his throne in the face of internal dissent.

  • Phil Silvers, comedian and actor.

  • Roy Fuller, poet and novelist.

  • 1911

    Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist.

  • 1910

    Joseph Alsop, American journalist.

  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French oceanic explorer, filmmaker, author and inventor of the aqualung.

  • Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and Eleanor Alexander announce their wedding date–June 20, 1910.

  • 1909

    Construction begins on the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

  • 1908

    Britain’s King Edward VII meets with Kaiser Wilhelm II to protest the growth of the German navy.

  • Lawrence Welk, orchestra leader.

  • Phillipe Dunne, screenwriter and director (How Green Was My Valley).

  • 1907

    President Teddy Roosevelt induces California to revoke its anti-Japanese legislation.

  • William J. Levitt, U.S. businessman and community builder who led the postwar housing revolutions with his Levittowns.

  • 1906

    San Francisco school board orders the segregation of  schoolchildren, inciting Japanese outrage.

  • In France, Eugene Lauste receives the first patent for a talking film.

  • 1905

    The Parisian subway is officially inaugurated.

  • 1904

    The battleship Connecticut, launched in New York, introduces a new era in naval construction.

  • German General Lothar von Trotha defeats the Hereros tribe near Waterberg, South Africa.

  • Salvador Dali, surrealist painter.

  • President Theodore Roosevelt proclaims strict neutrality for the United States in the Russo-Japanese War.

  • British troops massacre 1,000 dervishes in Somaliland.

  • 1903

    King Alexander and Queen Draga of Belgrade are assassinated by members of the Serbia army.

  • Congress passes the Expedition Act, giving antitrust cases priority in the courts.

  • Alan Patton, South African novelist (Cry, the Beloved Country).

  • 1901

    Glenway Wescott, writer.

  • 1900

    British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury rejects the peace overtures offered from Boer leader Paul Kruger.

  • 1899

    South African Boers, settler from the Netherlands, declare war on Great Britain.

  • E.B. White, author (Charlotte’s Web).

  • Frederick IX, King of Denmark

  • 1898

    Rene Clair, French film director.

  • American President William McKinley asks Congress for declaration of war with Spain.

  • Leo Szilard, physicist, instrumental in the Manhattan Project.

  • 1895

    Nikolai A. Bulganin, premier of the Soviet Union from 1955 to 1958.

  • Charles E. Duryea receives the first U.S. patent granted to an American inventor for a gasoline-driven automobile.

  • William Grant Still, American composer and conductor.

  • 1894

    Mari Sandoz, writer and biographer (Crazy Horse).

  • 1893

    Dean G. Acheson, U.S. secretary of state (1949-53) who helped create NATO.

  • 1892

    Hugh MacDiarmid, poet and founder of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

  • 1889

    Washington becomes the 42nd state of the Union.

  • 1888

    Bartolomeo Vanzetti, anarchist, executed with Nicola Sacco.

  • Irving Berlin, composer, writer of over 1,500 songs.

  • A disastrous blizzard hits the northeastern United States. Some 400 people die, mainly from exposure.

  • 1887

    Willie Hoppe, billiards champion.

  • At Fort Smith, Arkansas, hangman George Maledon dispatches four victims in a multiple hanging.

  • 1885

    George S. Patton, U.S. Army commander in World War II.

  • Francois Mauriac, Nobel Prize-winning novelist.

  • D.H. Lawrence, English novelist (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Sons and Lovers).

  • “”King” Joseph Oliver, jazz cornetist and bandleader.

  • Sir Michael Campbell, the first motorist to exceed 300 mph.

  • 1884

    Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Roosevelt.

  • 1882

    Fiorella H. La Guardia, mayor of New York City from 1933 to 1945.

  • A production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe at Boston’s Bijou Theatre becomes the first performance in a theatre lit by incandescent electric lights.

  • 1880

    Jeannette Rankin, U.S. Representative from Montana, the first woman in Congress.

  • 1877

    Outlaw Wild Bill Longley, who killed at least a dozen men, is hanged, but it took two tries; on the first try, the rope slipped and his knees drug the ground.

  • James Jeans, physicist.

  • 1865

    Major General Henry W. Halleck finds documents and archives of the Confederate government in Richmond, Virginia. This discovery will lead to the publication of the official war records.

  • Union General William Sherman and his forces occupy Fayetteville, N.C.

  • 1864

    A 10-day truce is declared between generals William Sherman and John Hood so civilians may leave Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart is mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern.

  • H. George Selfridge, founder of Selfridge and Co., Ltd., coined the phrase “the customer is always right.”

  • 1863

    Union gunboats Restless, Bloomer and Caroline enter St. Andrew’s Bay, Fla., and begin bombardment of both Confederate quarters and saltworks.

  • Union troops under General Ulysess S. Grant give up their preparations to take Vicksburg after failing to pass Fort Pemberton, north of Vicksburg.

  • 1862

    Union General Ambrose Burnside occupies Fredericksburg and prepares to attack the Confederates under Robert E. Lee.

  • The Confederate Congress in Richmond passes a draft law allowing anyone owning 20 or more slaves to be exempt from military service. This law confirms many southerners opinion that they are in a ‘rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.’

  • O. Henry, (William Sydney Porter), short story writer who wrote “The Gift of the Magi,” and “The Last Leaf.”

  • Carrie James Bond, songwriter who wrote “I Love You Truly” and “A Perfect Day.”

  • President Abraham Lincoln appoints Union General Henry Halleck to the position of general in chief of the Union Army.

  • President Abraham Lincoln appoints General Henry Halleck as general-in-chief of the Federal army.

  • Confederates scuttle the CSS Virginia off Norfolk, Virginia.

  • Charles Evans Hughes, 11th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Lincoln accepts Simon Cameron’s resignation as Secretary of War.

  • 1861

    A raging fire sweeps the business district of Charleston, South Carolina, adding to an already depressed economic state.

  • James Bryan Herrick, physician who first described sickle-cell anemia.

  • Union forces under General George B. McClellan repulse a Confederate force at Rich Mountain in western Virginia.

  • A Confederate Convention is held in Montgomery, Ala., where the new constitution is adopted.

  • Alabama secedes from the Union.

  • 1860

    Giuseppe Garibaldi lands at Marsala, Sicily.

  • Thomas Hastings, architect of the New York Public Library.

  • 1858

    Minnesota is admitted as the 32nd U.S. state.

  • 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, a French miller’s daughter, claims to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes.

  • 1857

    Indians incited by Mormon John D. Lee kill 120 California-bound settlers in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

  • 1856

    A band of rampaging settlers in California kill four Yokut Indians. The settlers had heard unproven rumors of Yokut atrocities.

  • 1855

    Josephine Marshall Jewell Dodge, American educator, pioneer in the concept of day nurseries for children.

  • 1850

    Soprano opera singer Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale,” makes her American debut at New York’s Castle Garden Theater.

  • 1847

    Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna” is first performed in a saloon in Pittsburgh.

  • Thomas Alva Edison, prolific American inventor who jointly or singly held over 1,300 patents.

  • 1845

    Seven hundred Maoris led by their chief, Hone-Heke, burn the small town of Kororareka in protest at the settlement of Maoriland by Europeans, in breach with the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi.

  • 1844

    Henry Heinz, manufacturer, founder of H.J. Heinz Co.

  • 1843

    Robert Koch, physician and medical researcher.

  • Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” dies in Baltimore.

  • 1838

    John Wanamaker, U.S. merchant, founder of one of the first American department stores.

  • 1833

    Robert G. Ingersoll, advocate of scientific realism and humanistic philosophy.

  • Melville Weston Fuller, eighth U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice.

  • 1831

    Nat Turner, a slave who led a revolt against slave owners, is hanged in Jerusalem, Virginia.

  • 1824

    The U.S. War Department creates the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Seneca Indian Ely Parker becomes the first Indian to lead the Bureau.

  • 1823

    James L. Kemper, Confederate general during the American Civil War.

  • 1821

    Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist and political revolutionary (The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment).

  • 1820

    Sir George Williams, founder of the YMCA.

  • 1816

    Indiana is admitted to the Union as the 19th state.

  • 1815

    News of the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, finally reaches the United States.

  • 1814

    U.S. forces led by Thomas Macdonough route the British fleet on Lake Champlain.

  • Napoleon abdicates and is exiled to Elba.

  • 1812

    British Prime Minster Spencer Perceval is shot by a bankrupt banker in the lobby of the House of Commons.

  • 1811

    Ned Ludd leads a group of workers in a wild protest against mechanization.

  • 1810

    The Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is married by proxy to Archduchess Marie Louise.

  • 1809

    Robert Fulton patents the steamboat.

  • 1805

    Sixteen-year-old Sacajawea, the Shoshoni guide for Lewis & Clark, gives birth to a son, with Meriwether Lewis serving as midwife.

  • 1804

  • 1803

    Hector Berlioz, French composer and conductor (Symphonie Fantastique, La Damnation de Faust).

  • 1802

    Piedmont, Italy, is annexed by France.

  • 1800

    William Henry Fox Talbot, photography pioneer, produced the first book with photographic illustrations (The Pencil of Nature).

  • 1799

    An Anglo-Turkish armada bombards Napoleon Bonaparte‘s troops in Alexandria to no avail.

  • 1798

    Napoleon Bonaparte takes the island of Malta.

  • 1795

    In graditude for putting down a rebellion in the streets of Paris, France’s National Convention appoints Napoleon Bonaparte second in command of the Army of the Interior.

  • 1794

    Edward Everett, governor of Massachusetts, statesman and orator.

  • 1792

    A revolutionary commune is formed in Paris, France.

  • The Columbia River is discovered by Captain Robert Gray.

  • 1786

    The Convention of Annapolis opens with the aim of revising the Articles of Confederation.

  • Morocco agrees to stop attacking American ships in the Mediterranean for a payment of $10,000.

  • 1783

    After receiving a copy of the provisional treaty on 13 March, Congress proclaims a formal end to hostilities with Great Britain.

  • 1778

    Indians, led by William Butler, massacre the inhabitants of Cherry Valley, N.Y.

  • 1777

    General George Washington and his troops are defeated by the British under General Sir William Howe at the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania.

  • 1770

    Captain James Cook runs aground on the Great Barrier Reef.

  • George Canning, British prime minister (1827).

  • 1769

    Anne Newport Royall, American newspaper reporter.

  • 1767

    John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States (1825-1829).

  • 1757

    Alexander Hamilton, first U.S. Secretary of Treasury, killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.

  • 1755

    James Parkinson, English physician.

  • 1745

    French forces defeat an Anglo-Dutch-Hanoverian army at Fontenoy.

  • 1740

    The first mention of an African American doctor or dentist in the colonies is made in the Pennsylvania Gazette.

  • 1731

    Robert Treat Paine, Declaration of Independence signer

  • 1727

    George II of England crowned.

  • 1722

    Christopher Smart, English poet.

  • 1713

    The Treaty of Utrecht is signed, ending the War of Spanish Succession. France cedes Maritime provinces to Britain.

  • 1709

    John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, wins the bloodiest battle of the 18th century at great cost, against the French at Malplaquet.

  • 1708

    The French are defeated at Oudenarde, Malplaquet, in the Netherlands by the Duke of Marlborough and Eugene of Savoy.

  • 1702

    The Daily Courant, the first regular English newspaper is published.

  • 1700

    James Thomson, Scottish poet.

  • 1695

    Imperial troops under Eugene of Savoy defeat the Turks at the Battle of Zenta.

  • 1690

    In the first major engagement of King William’s War, British troops from Massachusetts seize Port Royal in Acadia (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) from the French.

  • 1689

    French and English navies battle at Bantry Bay.

  • 1688

    James II abdicates the throne because of William of Orange landing in England.

  • 1665

    A new legal code is approved for the Dutch and English towns, guaranteeing religious observances unhindered.

  • 1649

    The peace of Rueil is signed between the Frondeurs (rebels) and the French government.

  • 1573

    Henry of Anjou becomes the first elected king of Poland.

  • 1572

    Ben Jonson, English playwright and poet.

  • 1540

    Charles V of Milan puts his son Philip in control.

  • 1535

    Gregory XIV, Roman Catholic Pope.

  • 1533

    Henry VIII is excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Pope Clement VII.

  • 1531

    The Catholics defeat the Protestants at Kappel during Switzerland’s second civil war.

  • Henry VIII is recognized as the supreme head of the Church of England.

  • 1512

    The forces of the Holy League are heavily defeated by the French at the Battle of Ravenna.

  • 1509

    Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.

  • 1499

    Pretender to the throne Perkin Warbeck is executed.

  • 1492

    Rodrigo Borgia is elected to the papacy as Pope Alexander VI.

  • 1370

    Frederick I, elector of Saxony.

  • 1346

    Charles IV of Luxembourg is elected Holy Roman Emperor in Germany.

  • Charles IV of Luxembourg is elected Holy Roman Emperor.

  • 1302

    An army of French knights, led by the Count of Artois, is routed by Flemish pikemen.

  • 1297

    Scots under William Wallace defeat the English at Stirling Bridge.

  • 1274

    Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland (1306-1329).

  • 1050

    Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor.

  • 991

    Danes under Olaf Tryggvason kill Ealdorman Byrhtnoth and defeat the Saxons at Maldon.

  • 660

    Traditional founding of Japan by Emperor Jimmu Tenno.

  • 537

  • 49

    Julius Caesar leads his army across the Rubicon River, plunging Rome into civil war.