What happened on your birthday?

more events on December 18

  • 2011

    Gold hits a record price of $1,826 per ounce.

  • 2010

    In an opening act of Arab Spring, anti-government protests erupt in Tunisia.

  • Edelmiro Cavazos, mayor of Santiago, Nuevo Leon, is found handcuffed, blindfolded and dead following his abduction three days earlier. He had championed crackdowns on organized crime and police corruption.

  • 2009

    The US television soap opera The Guiding Light broadcasts its final episode, ending a 72-year run that began on radio.

  • 2008

    United Arab Emirates holds it first-ever elections.

  • 2007

    Suicide attack on a motorcade in Karachi, Pakistan, kills at least 139 and wounds 450; the subject of the attack, Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, is not harmed.

  • 2005

    Civil war begins in Chad with a rebel assault on Adre; the rebels are believed to be backed by Chad’s neighbor, Sudan.

  • 2003

    Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules the state’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional; the legislature fails to act within the mandated 180 days, and on May 17, 2004, Massachusetts becomes the first US state to legalize same-sex marriage.

  • Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigns in the wake of protests centered around Bolivia’s natural gas resources.

  • 2002

    California Gov. Gray Davis announces the state faces a record budget deficit; the looming $35 billion shortfall is almost double the amount reported a month earlier during the state’s gubernatorial campaign.

  • UN weapons inspectors under Hans Blix arrive in Iraq.

  • 1998

    ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is formed to coordinate unique identifying addresses for Websites worldwide.

  • 1994

    In Buenos Aires, a massive car bomb kills 96 people.

  • Millions of Americans watch former football player O.J. Simpson–facing murder charges–drive his Ford Bronco through Los Angeles, followed by police.

  • 1993

    Twenty-one political parties approve a new constitution for South Africa that expands voter rights and ends the rule of the country’s white minority.

  • Historic Kapelbrug (chapel bridge) in Luzern, Switzerland, burns, destroying 147 of its decorative paintings. It was built in 1365.

  • 1992

    Dennis Rader, the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) killer receives 10 consecutive life sentences. He had terrorized Wichita, Kansas, murdering 10 people between 1974 and 1991.

  • 1991

    The Croatian city of Vukovar surrenders to Yugoslav People’s Army and allied Serb paramilitary forces after an 87-day siege.

  • A group of hard-line communist leaders unhappy with the drift toward the collapse of the Soviet Union seize control of the government in Moscow and place President Mikhail S. Gorbachev under house arrest

  • Iraq starts firing Scud missiles at Israeli cities.

  • 1989

    The European Economic Community and the Soviet Union sign an agreement on trade and economic communication.

  • 1988

    Republican Convention in New Orleans nominate the George H.W. Bush-Dan Quayle ticket.

  • 1987

    Ohio nurse Donald Harvey sentenced to triple life terms for poisoning 24 patients.

  • 1986

    Buckingham Palace announces the engagement of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson.

  • 1984

    The Soviet Union helps deliver American wheat during the Ethiopian famine.

  • 1983

    Argentina announces its ability to produce enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

  • Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

  • A suicide bomber kills U.S. Marines at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.

  • 1982

    Pete Rose sets record with his 13,941st plate appearance.

  • Mexico devalues the peso by 30 percent to fight an economic slide.

  • 1981

    The United States discloses biological weapons tests in Texas in 1966.

  • 1980

    Cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo, a Cuban, becomes the first black to be sent on a mission in space.

  • After rumbling for two months, Mount Saint Helens, in Washington, erupts 3 times in 24 hours.

  • Zimbabwe’s (Rhodesia) formal independence from Britain is proclaimed.

  • 1979

    Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini demands a “Saint War” against Kurds.

  • President Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev sign the Salt II pact to limit nuclear arms.

  • 1978

    Katie Holmes, actress (Dawson’s Creek TV series, Batman Begins).

  • Peoples Temple cult leader Jim Jones leads his followers to a mass murder-suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, hours after cult member killed Congressman Leo J. Ryan of California.

  • The U.S. Senate approves the transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isolate the cause of Legionnaire’s disease.

  • 1977

    Voyager I takes first photo of Earth and the Moon together.

  • Congo President Marien Ngouabi is killed by a suicide commando.

  • 1975

    Patty Hearst, granddaughter of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped by violent radical group SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army); she will later take part in some of the group’s militant activities and will be captured by FBI agents.

  • South Vietnam abandons most of the Central Highlands to North Vietnamese forces.

  • 1974

    Chloe Sevigny, American actress, model and fashion designer noted for her eclectic fashion sense.

  • Luna 24, the USSR’s final major lunar exploration mission, soft-lands on moon.

  • India becomes the sixth nation to explode an atomic bomb.

  • Randolph Hearst is to give $2 million in free food for the poor in order to open talks for his daughter Patty.

  • 1973

    East and West Germany and The Bahamas are admitted to United Nations.

  • Hank Aaron makes his 1,378 extra-base hit, surpassing Stan Musial’s record.

  • 1972

    President Richard M. Nixon declares that the bombing of North Vietnam will continue until an accord can be reached (Operation Linebacker II).

  • Five men are arrested for burglarizing Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.

  • The California Supreme Court voids the death penalty.

  • 1971

    Lance Armstrong (Lance Gunderson), cyclist; won record 7 Tour De France titles but was stripped of them and banned from competitive cycling for life after it was determined he had used performance-enhancing drugs.

  • New Zealand and Australia announce they will pull their troops out of Vietnam.

  • U.S. helicopters airlift 1,000 South Vietnamese soldiers out of Laos.

  • 1970

    An atomic leak in Nevada forces hundreds of citizens to flee the test site.

  • Jose Padilla, American terrorist convicted of conspiring with overseas terrorists in death plots; held from May 8, 2002, as an enemy combatant, he was tried in a civilian court in 2006

  • North Vietnamese troops cut the last operating rail line in Cambodia.

  • The U.S. Postal Service is paralyzed by the first postal strike.

  • 1969

    Christian Slater, actor (Heathers, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Hard Rain).

  • Two concert goers die at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, New York, one from an overdose of heroin, the other from a burst appendix.

  • Two battalions of the 101st Airborne Division assault Hill 937 but cannot reach the top because of muddy conditions.

  • President Richard M. Nixon authorizes Operation Menue, the ‘secret’ bombing of Cambodia.

  • 1968

    Soviets recover the Zond 6 spacecraft after a flight around the moon.

  • US athletes Tommi Smith and John Carlos suspended by US Olympic Committee for giving “black power” salute while receiving their medals at the Olympic Games in Mexico City.

  • Three U.S. pilots that were held by the Vietnamese arrive in Washington.

  • 1967

    A Russian unmanned spacecraft makes the first landing on the surface of Venus.

  • The National Art Gallery in Washington agrees to buy a Da Vinci for a record $5 million.

  • 1966

    Australian troops repulse a Viet Cong attack at Long Tan.

  • Samuel Nabrit becomes the first African American to serve on the Atomic Energy Commission.

  • 1965

    U.S. Marines attack VC units in the Que Son Valley during Operation Harvest Moon.

  • Operation Starlite marks the beginning of major U.S. ground combat operations in Vietnam.

  • 27 B-52s hit Viet Cong outposts, but lose two planes in South Vietnam.

  • Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov becomes the first man to spacewalk when he exits his Voskhod 2 space capsule while in orbit around the Earth.

  • 1964

    U.S. destroyers fire on hostile targets in Vietnam.

  • The United States cuts military aid to five nations in reprisal for having trade relations with Cuba.

  • Plans are disclosed for the World Trade Center in New York.

  • 1963

    Brad Pitt, actor (12 Monkeys, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

  • James Meredith, the first African American to attend University of Mississippi, graduates.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court bans the required reading of the Lord’s prayer and Bible in public schools.

  • 1962

    Felipe Calderón, President of Mexico 2006–2012.

  • Robert F. Kennedy says that U.S. troops will stay in Vietnam until Communism is defeated.

  • The United States begins spraying foliage with herbicides in South Vietnam, in order to reveal the whereabouts of Vietcong guerrillas.

  • 1961

    Wynton Marsalis, Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter; presently (2013) artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

  • James Gandolfini, actor; won three Emmys, two Golden Globes and three Screen Actors Guild Awards (crime boss Tony Soprano in The Sopranos).

  • UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold is killed in a plane crash while attempting to negotiate peace in the Congo.

  • Robert Warren “Bob” Woodruff, journalist, TV news anchor; critically wounded by roadside bomb while reporting on the war in Iraq, January 2006.

  • 1960

    A rightist government is installed under Prince Boun Oum in Laos as the United States resumes arms shipments.

  • Jean-Claude Van Damme, martial artist, actor, director (Bloodsport, The Expendables 2).

  • Erin Moran, actress; best known for her role as Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days TV series and its spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi.

  • Two thousand cheer Fidel Castro’s arrival in New York for the United Nations session.

  • 1959

    A Federal Court annuls the Arkansas law allowing school closings to prevent integration.

  • 1956

    Japan is admitted to the United Nations.

  • Warren Moon, quarterback in Canadian and US pro football teams; his numerous passing records include most passing yardage in pro football (surpassed by Damon Allen, Sept. 4, 2006).

  • Martina Navratilova, Czechoslovakian-born tennis player; won a record 9 Wimbledon singles competitions.

  • Craig Bartlett, animator, writer; known for his work on Rugrats , Hey Arnold! and Dinosaur Train animated TV series.

  • 1954

    Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser seizes power in Egypt.

  • East and West Berlin drop thousands of propaganda leaflets on each other after the end of a month long truce.

  • 1953

    South Korean President Syngman Rhee releases Korean non-repatriate POWs against the will of the United Nations.

  • Soviet tanks fight thousands of Berlin workers rioting against the East German government.

  • The Braves baseball team announces that they are moving from Boston to Milwaukee.

  • 1952

    Bao Ninh (Hoang Au Phuong), Vietnamese author known for his novel The Sorrow of War about the Vietnam War, in which he served.

  • Chuck Lorre (Charles Levine), TV writer, director, producer and composer. Created several successful sitcoms including Dharma & Greg and The Big Bang Theory.

  • Patrick Swayze, actor/dancer (Dirty Dancing, Ghost).

  • 1951

    North Koreans give the United Nations a list of 3,100 POWs.

  • Terry McMillan, novelist (Waiting to Exhale).

  • Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr., African-American neurosurgeon.

  • General Vo Nguyen Giap ends his Red River Campaign against the French in Indochina.

  • The United Nations moves its headquarters to New York city.

  • 1950

    Alan Moore, writer best known for his ground-breaking work in comic books / graphic novels (Watchmen, V for Vendetta).

  • Graham Parker, lead singer of the British rock band Graham Parker and the Rumour.

  • The Bureau of Mines discloses its first production of oil from coal in practical amounts.

  • Wendy Wasserstein, playwright (The Heidi Chronicles).

  • The First Turkish Brigade arrives in Korea to assist the U.N. forces fighting there.

  • Surgeon Richard Lawler performs the first kidney transplant operation in Chicago.

  • The first transatlantic jet passenger trip is completed.

  • Nationalist troops land on the mainland of China and capture Communist-held Sungmen.

  • 1949

    The U.S. Air Force grounds B-29s after two crashes and 23 deaths in three days.

  • Chris Van Allsburg, children’s author and illustrator (Jumanji, The Polar Express).

  • The Republic of Ireland withdraws from British Commonwealth.

  • 1948

    Margaret Chase Smith becomes the first woman elected to the Senate without completing another senator’s term when she defeats Democratic opponent Adrian Scolten. Smith is also the only woman to be elected to and serve in both houses of Congress.

  • Gandhi breaks a 121-hour fast after halting Muslim-Hindu riots.

  • 1946

    Steven Spielberg, film director (E.T., Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List).

  • The League of Nations dissolves.

  • 1945

    Organized Japanese resistance ends on the island of Mindanao.

  • U.S. Marines storm ashore at Iwo Jima.

  • The German Army launches its second attempt to relieve the besieged city of Budapest from the advancing Red Army.

  • 1944

    Japanese forces are repelled from northern Burma by British troops.

  • Lt. General Joseph Stilwell is recalled from China by president Franklin Roosevelt.

  • The U.S. First Army breaks through the German lines on the Cotentin Peninsula and cuts off the German-held port of Cherbourg.

  • French troops land on the island of Elba in the Mediterranean.

  • The Allies finally capture Monte Cassino in Italy.

  • The Russians reach the Romanian border.

  • The U.S. Army and Marines invade Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.

  • 1943

    RAF bombs Berlin, using 440 aircraft and losing nine of those and 53 air crew members; damage to the German capital is light, with 131 dead.

  • The Royal Air Force Bomber Command completes the first major strike against the German missile development facility at Peenemunde.

  • Traveling in a bomber, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor, is shot down by American P-38 fighters.

  • American forces take Gafsa in Tunisia.

  • Adolf Hitler calls off the offensive in the Caucasus.

  • German General Erwin Rommel takes three towns in Tunisia, North Africa.

  • 1942

    Adolf Hitler meets with Benito Mussolini and Pierre Laval.

  • Japan sends a crack army to Guadalcanal to repulse the U.S. Marines fighting there.

  • The German Me-262, the first jet-propelled aircraft to fly in combat, makes its first flight.

  • Paul McCartney, songwriter and singer, member of the Beatles.

  • Rod Padgett, poet.

  • The U.S. Navy commissions its first black officer, Harvard University medical student Bernard Whitfield Robinson.

  • Yank a weekly magazine for the U.S. armed services, begins publication.

  • New York ends night baseball games for the rest of World War II.

  • James H. Doolittle bombs Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

  • The third military draft begins in the United States.

  • General MacArthur repels the Japanese in Bataan. The United States takes the lead in the Far East war criminal trials.

  • 1941

    Japan invades Hong Kong.

  • Defended by 610 fighting men, the American-held island of Guam falls to more than 5,000 Japanese invaders in a three-hour battle.

  • 1940

    Adolf Hitler issues his secret plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union–Operation Barbarossa.

  • Frankie Avalon, singer (“Venus,” 5 weeks at No. 1), actor (Beach Blanket Bingo); teen heartthrob of late 1950s–early 1960s.

  • The Soviet Union occupies Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

  • Ed Garvey, labor leader.

  • 1939

    Margaret Atwood, Canadian writer (The Edible Woman, The Handmaid’s Tale).

  • The Irish Republican Army explodes three bombs in Piccadilly Circus.

  • Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt bans war submarines from U.S. ports and waters.

  • Frankie Avalon, singer (“Venus”) , actor (The Alamo), playwright; teen idol of 1950s-60s.

  • A German U-boat sinks the British aircraft carrier Courageous, killing 500 people.

  • The film The Wizard of Oz opens in New York City.

  • Hunter S. Thompson, journalist.

  • Georgia finally ratifies the Bill of Rights, 150 years after the birth of the federal government. Connecticut and Massachusetts, the only other states to hold out, also ratify the Bill of Rights in this year.

  • The Golden Gate Exposition opens in San Francisco.

  • 1937

    William George Rushton, London, actor, author, cartoonist; co-founder of Private Eye satire magazine.

  • Gail Godwin, writer (The Perfectionists, The Southern Family).

  • Leon Trotsky calls for the overthrow of Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

  • 1936

    The main span of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is joined.

  • Robert Redford, actor (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Great Gatsby).

  • General Francisco Franco of Spain revolts against the Republican government, starting the Spanish Civil War.

  • Mobster Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano is found guilty on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution.

  • Frederik W. deKlerk, President of the Republic of South Africa.

  • 1935

    Ethiopian King Haile Selassie urges his countrymen to fight to the last man against the invading Italian army.

  • Rome reports sending troops to Italian Somalia.

  • 1934

    The League of Nations admits the Soviet Union.

  • Roberto Clemente, outfielder for Pittsburgh Pirates, first Latin American enshrined in National Baseball Hall of Fame; died in plane crash while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua, Dec. 31, 1972.

  • Audre Lord, poet.

  • 1933

    Roman Polanski, Polish film director best known for Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown.

  • Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian poet.

  • President Franklin Roosevelt signs the Tennessee Valley Authority Act.

  • 1932

    Luc Montagnier, virologist who discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

  • The U.S. Senate defeats the Bonus Bill as 10,000 veterans mass around the Capitol.

  • John Updike, American poet and novelist.

  • Manchurian independence is formally declared.

  • 1931

    British authorities in China arrest Indochinese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh.

  • Japanese pilot Seiji Yoshihara crashes his plane in the Pacific Ocean while trying to be the first to cross the ocean nonstop. He is picked up seven hours later by a passing ship.

  • Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author (The Bluest Eye, Beloved).

  • 1930

    The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill becomes law, placing the highest tariff on imports to the United States.

  • 1929

    Charles Lindbergh takes off on a 10,000 mile air tour of South America.

  • The first cross-country women’s air derby begins. Louise McPhetridge Thaden wins first prize in the heavier-plane division, while Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie finishes first in the lighter-plane category.

  • Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, American blues singer.

  • Len Deighton, English spy writer (The Ipcress File).

  • 1928

    Mickey mouse makes his film debut in Steamboat Willie, the first animated talking picture.

  • Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to cross the Atlantic by airplane.

  • 1926

    Ntozake Shange (Paulette Williams), poet, playwright and novelist.

  • Chuck Berry, rock ‘n’ roll performer.

  • Joe Kubert, comic book artist (Sgt. Rock, Hawkman), inducted into Harvey Awards’ Jack Kirby Hall of Fame (1907) and Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame (1998); founder of The Kubert School.

  • Spain threatens to quit the League of Nations if Germany is allowed to join.

  • 1925

    Soviet leaders Lev Kamenev and Grigori Zinoviev break with Joseph Stalin.

  • 1924

    The Fascist militia marches into Rome.

  • 1923

    Alan Shepard, first American astronaut in space.

  • Queen Anne of Romania.

  • Jimmy Witherspoon, blues singer.

  • Yankee Stadium opens with Babe Ruth hitting a three-run homer as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1.

  • 1922

    Shelly Winters, actress who won an Academy Award for The Diary of Anne Frank.

  • Mahatma Gandhi is sentenced to six years in prison for civil disobedience in India.

  • Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine.

  • 1921

    New York City considers varying work hours to avoid long traffic jams.

  • Russian Soviets grant Crimean independence.

  • John Glenn, Jr., American pilot, astronaut and politician.

  • 1920

    Tennessee becomes the thirty-sixth state to ratify the nineteenth amendment granting women’s suffrage, completing the three-quarters necessary to put the amendment into effect.

  • Vuillemin and Chalus complete their first flight over the Sahara Desert.

  • 1919

    Madrid opens a subway system.

  • Margot Fonteyn, English ballet dancer.

  • 1918

    Czechs seize Prague and renounce Hapsburg’s rule.

  • Elsa Morante, Italian writer (History: A Novel).

  • Nelson Mandela, civil rights activist, first black president of South Africa.

  • Allied forces on the Western Front begin their largest counterattack yet against the German army.

  • John Paul II [Karol Jozef Wojtyla], Roman Catholic pope.

  • Clifton Keith Hillegass, founder of the study guides known as Cliff’s Notes.

  • 1917

    The Russian Duma meets in secret session in Petrograd and votes for an immediate Russian offensive against the German Army.

  • The U.S. Congress passes the Selective Service act, calling up soldiers to fight World War I.

  • The Germans sink the U.S. ships, City of Memphis, Vigilante and the Illinois, without any type of warning.

  • 1916

    The Battle of Verdun ends with the French and Germans each having suffered more than 330,000 killed and wounded in 10 months. It was the longest engagement of World War I.

  • On the Eastern Front, the Russians counter the Verdun assault with an attack at Lake Naroch. The Russians lose 100,000 men and the Germans lose 20,000.

  • The Russians force the Turkish 3rd Army back to Erzurum.

  • 1915

    In a single night, about 20,000 Australian and New Zealand troops withdraw from Gallipoli, Turkey, undetected by the Turks defending the peninsula.

  • 1914

    The Irish Home Rule Bill becomes law, but is delayed until after World War I.

  • Germany declares war on Russia while President Woodrow Wilson issues his Proclamation of Neutrality.

  • John Hersey, novelist and journalist (Men on Bataan, Hiroshima).

  • 1913

    Willy Brandt, German political leader. Mayor of Berlin and Chancellor of West Germany.

  • “”Red” Skelton, American comedian and actor.

  • U.S. Marines set sail from San Diego to protect American interests in Mexico.

  • Greek King George I is killed by an assassin. Constantine I is to succeed.

  • 1912

    Cholera breaks out in Constantinople, in the Ottoman Empire.

  • The First Balkan War breaks out between the members of the Balkan League–Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro–and the Ottoman Empire.

  • Maria de la Cruz, journalist, woman’s suffrage advocate; the first woman ever elected to Chile’s Senate (1953).

  • The German Zeppelin SZ 111 burns in its hangar in Friedrichshafen.

  • 1911

    Russian Premier Pyotr Stolypin dies four days after being shot at the Kiev opera house by socialist lawyer Dimitri Bogroff.

  • Joseph Vernon “Big Joe” Turner, blues singer.

  • Theodore Roosevelt opens the Roosevelt Dam in Phoenix, Ariz., the largest dam in the United States to date.

  • 1910

    M. Baudry is the first to fly a dirigible across the English Channel–from La Motte-Breil to Wormwood Scrubbs.

  • Aviator Eugene Ely performs his first successful take off and landing from a ship in San Francisco.

  • 1909

    Johnny Mercer, songwriter.

  • Wallace Stegner, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (Angle of Repose).

  • 1908

    Viktor Hambardzumyan, a Soviet Armenian scientist who was among the founders of theoretical astrophysics.

  • 1907

    600,000 tons of grain are sent to Russia to relieve the famine there.

  • 1906

    Anarchists bomb St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

  • Clifford Odets, playwright (Waiting for Lefty).

  • A massive earthquake hits San Francisco, measuring 8.25 on the Richter scale.

  • 1905

    The Norwegian Parliament elects Prince Charles of Denmark to be the next King of Norway. Prince Charles takes the name Haakon VII.

  • Greta Garbo, actress nominated for Oscars for her roles in Anna Christie and Ninotcha.

  • 1904

    A.J. Liebling, journalist and author.

  • Brigand Raisuli kidnaps American Ion H. Perdicaris in Morocco.

  • Cary Grant, U.S. film actor (Gunga Din, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, North by Northwest).

  • 1902

    Jessamyn West, American author (The Friendly Persuasion).

  • Meredith Willson, composer and lyricist (The Music Man).

  • The Isthmus Canal Commission in Washington shifts its support from Nicaragua to Panama as a favored canal site.

  • 1901

    George Horatio Gallup, American journalist and statistician.

  • The second Hay-Pauncefote Treaty is signed. The United States is given extensive rights by Britain for building and operating a canal through Central America.

  • 1900

    Dr. Howard Thurman, theologian and first African American to hold a full-time position at Boston University.

  • 1899

    Eugene Ormandy, orchestra conductor.

  • 1898

    Adolph Ochs takes over the New York Times, saying his aim is to give “the news, all the news, in concise and attractive form, in language that is permissible in good society, and give it early, if not earlier, than it can be learned through any other medium.”

  • 1897

    Frank Capra, film director (It’s A Wonderful Life).

  • 1896

    H.L. Davis, novelist and poet.

  • Blanche Sweet, film actress.

  • The Supreme Court’s decision on Plessy v. Ferguson upholds the “separate but equal” policy in the United States.

  • 1895

    John G. Diefenbaker, prime minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963.

  • 1893

    Wilfred Owen, World War I poet.

  • 1892

    Wendell Wilkie, Presidential candidate against President Franklin Roosevelt.

  • Oliver Hardy, film comedian, one half of Laurel and Hardy.

  • 1887

    Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian politician and Nazi collaborator during World War II.

  • 1886

    Ty (Tyrus Raymond) Cobb, American baseball player, first man to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • 1885

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, is published in New York.

  • 1883

    The weather station at the top of Ben Nevis, Scotland, the highest mountain in Britain, is declared open. Weather stations were set up on the tops of mountains all over Europe and the Eastern United States in order to gather information for the new weather forecasts.

  • 1882

    Igor Stravinsky, Russian-born U.S. composer (The Rite of Spring, The Firebird).

  • A.A. [Alan Alexander] Milne, novelist, humorist and journalist (Winnie the Pooh).

  • 1881

    Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth opens in Madison Square Gardens.

  • 1880

    Carl Van Vechten, writer.

  • 1879

    Paul Klee, Swiss abstract painter.

  • 1878

    The bitter and bloody Lincoln County War begins with the murder of Billy the Kid‘s mentor, Englishman rancher John Tunstall.

  • 1877

    Inventor Thomas Edison records the human voice for the first time.

  • James Montgomery Flagg, American artist and author.

  • 1876

    General George Crook‘s command is attacked and bested on the Rosebud River by 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Crazy Horse.

  • 1874

    Clarence Day, American writer (Life with Father).

  • The Nebraska Relief and Aid Society is formed to help farmers whose crops were destroyed by grasshoppers swarming throughout the American West.

  • Hawaii signs a treaty giving exclusive trading rights with the islands to the United States.

  • 1873

  • 1872

    The Ballot Act is passed in Great Britain, providing for secret election ballots.

  • George M. Hoover begins selling whiskey in Dodge City, Kansas–a town which had previously been “dry.”

  • Bertrand Russell, English mathematician, philosopher and social reformer.

  • 1871

    James Weldon Johnson, African-American poet and novelist (The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man).

  • 1870

    Dorthea Dix, pseudonym for Elizabeth Gilman, who wrote syndicated advice.

  • Prussian forces defeat the French at the Battle of Gravelotte during the Franco-Prussian War.

  • 1869

    Neville Chamberlin, British Prime Minister (1937-40).

  • 1868

    Nicholas II, the last Russian czar.

  • 1867

    The rules for American football are formulated at meeting in New York among delegates from Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton and Yale universities.

  • The Alaska territory is formally transferred to the U.S. from Russian control.

  • 1865

    Slavery is abolished in the United States. The 13th Amendment is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution, ensuring that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

  • Mark Twain’s first story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” is published in the New York Saturday Press.

  • The Congress of the Confederate States of America adjourns for the last time.

  • Union troops force the Confederates to abandon Fort Anderson, N.C.

  • 1864

    Union General William T. Sherman sends General Judson Kilpatrick to raid Confederate lines of communication outside Atlanta. The raid is unsuccessful.

  • At Petersburg, Union General Ulysses S. Grant realizes the town can no longer be taken by assault and settles into a siege.

  • The fighting at Spotsylvania in Virginia, reaches its peak at the Bloody Angle.

  • Richard Harding Davis, journalist.

  • 1863

    Union cavalry troops clash with a group of Confederates at Chickamauga Creek.

  • After repeated acts of insubordination, General Ulysses S. Grant relieves General John McClernand during the Siege of Vicksburg.

  • On the way to Gettysburg, Union and Confederate forces skirmish at Point of Rocks, Maryland.

  • Confederate women riot in Salisbury, N.C. to protest the lack of flour and salt in the South.

  • 1862

    Union General Ulysses S. Grant announces the organization of his army in the West. Sherman, Hurlbut, McPherson, and McClernand are to be corps commanders.

  • Nathan Bedford Forrest engages and defeats a Federal cavalry force near Lexington in his continued effort to disrupt supply lines.

  • After waiting all day for a Union attack which never came at Antietam, Confederate General Robert E. Lee begins a retreat out of Maryland and back to Virginia.

  • Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart‘s headquarters is raided by Union troops of the 5th New York and 1st Michigan cavalries.

  • Charles M. Schwab, “Boy Wonder” of the steel industry. President of both U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel.

  • John Tyler, former president of the U.S., is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

  • 1861

    The first provisional meeting of the Confederate Congress is held in Richmond, Virginia.

  • Union and Confederate troops skirmish at Blackburn’s Ford, Virginia, in a prelude to the Battle of Bull Run.

  • President Abraham Lincoln witnesses Dr. Thaddeus Lowe demonstrate the use of a hot-air balloon.

  • Colonel Robert E. Lee turns down an offer to command the Union armies.

  • Jefferson F. Davis is inaugurated as the Confederacy‘s provisional president at a ceremony held in Montgomery, Ala.

  • Victor Emmanuel II becomes the first King of Italy.

  • 1860

    Abraham Lincoln is nominated for president.

  • 1859

    Shalom Aleichem, Yiddish author.

  • 1858

    Rudolf Diesel, German engineer who designed the compression-ignition engine.

  • Daniel Hale Williams, physician who performed the first open heart surgery, founder of Chicago’s Provident Hospital.

  • 1857

    Henry Clay Folger, American lawyer and businessman, co-founder of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

  • 1856

    The Republican Party opens its first national convention in Philadelphia.

  • 1854

    The Red Turban revolt breaks out in Guangdong, China.

  • 1853

    The first train in Asia begins running from Bombay to Tanna.

  • 1850

    Congress passes the second Fugitive Slave Bill into law (the first was enacted in 1793), requiring the return of escaped slaves to their owners.

  • 1848

    Austrian General Alfred Windisch-Gratz crushes a Czech uprising in Prague.

  • Louis Comfort Tiffany, glassware artist and designer.

  • 1847

    U.S. forces defeat Mexicans at Cerro Gordo in one of the bloodiest battle of the Mexican-American War.

  • 1842

    Stephane Mallarme, French symbolist poet.

  • 1839

    John Aitken, physician and meteorologist.

  • 1838

    The Wilkes’ expedition to the South Pole sets sail.

  • 1837

    Stephen Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President of the United States (1885-1889 and 1893-1897), the only U.S. president elected for two nonconsecutive terms.

  • 1836

    William S. Gilbert, English playwright and humorist, one half of Gilbert & Sullivan.

  • Wilhelm Steinitz, chess champion.

  • Jim Bowie arrives at the Alamo to assist its Texas defenders.

  • 1834

    William Lamb becomes prime minister of England.

  • 1830

    Tom Thumb, the first locomotive built in the United States, loses a nine-mile race in Maryland to a horse.

  • Uruguay adopts a liberal constitution.

  • 1828

    The Battle of Las Piedras, between Uruguay and Brazil, ends.

  • 1827

    John Townsend Trowbridge, poet and author of books for boys, wrote the Jack Hazzard and Toby Trafford series.

  • 1819

    Leon Foucault, French physicist.

  • 1818

    A regiment of Indians and blacks is defeated at the Battle of Suwannee, in Florida, ending the First Seminole War.

  • 1817

    George Henry Lewes, philosophical writer.

  • 1815

    At the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte is defeated by an international army under the Duke of Wellington.

  • 1813

    The Allies defeat Napoleon Bonaparte at Leipzig.

  • Czar Alexander enters Warsaw at the head of his Army.

  • Joseph Glidden, inventor.

  • 1812

    Napoleon Bonaparte arrives in Paris after his disastrous campaign in Russia.

  • Great Britain signs the Treaty of Orebro, making peace with Russia and Sweden.

  • Ivan Goncharov, Russian novelist (Oblomov).

  • The War of 1812 begins when the United States declares war against Great Britain.

  • 1811

    William Makepeace Thackeray, English novelist and satirist.

  • 1810

    Asa Gray, botanist (Gray’s Manual).

  • 1807

    Charles F. Adams, U.S. diplomat and public official whose father was John Quincy Adams.

  • 1804

    Napoleon Bonaparte becomes the Emperor of France.

  • 1802

    Britain declares war on France.

  • 1799

    Napoleon Bonaparte incorporates Italy into his empire.

  • 1795

    George Peabody, U.S. merchant and philanthropist.

  • 1793

    George Washington lays the foundation stone for the U.S. Capitol.

  • 1792

    Lord John Russell, Prime Minister of England from 1846 to 1852 and 1865 to 1866.

  • Russian troops invade Poland.

  • 1791

    National Guardsmen prevent Louis XVI and his family from leaving Paris.

  • 1789

    Louis Jacques Daguerre, French painter, physicist and photography pioneer.

  • Robespierre, a deputy from Arras, France, decides to back the French Revolution.

  • 1782

    Poet and artist William Blake marries Catherine Sophia Boucher.

  • John C. Calhoun, U.S. statesman.

  • Daniel Webster, congressman from New Hampshire, Massachusetts senator, and secretary of state before the Civil War.

  • 1778

    British troops evacuate Philadelphia.

  • Captain James Cook discovers the Hawaiian Islands, naming them the ‘Sandwich Islands’ after the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Sandwich.

  • 1775

    The British take Bunker Hill outside of Boston, after a costly battle.

  • American revolutionaries Paul Revere and William Dawes ride though the towns of Massachusetts warning that “the British are coming.”

  • 1774

    Meriwether Lewis, American explorer who led the Corps of Discovery with William Clark.

  • 1759

    Quebec surrenders to the British after a battle which sees the deaths of both James Wolfe and Louis Montcalm, the British and French commanders.

  • The French fleet is destroyed by the British under “Old Dreadnought” Boscawen at the Battle of Lagos Bay.

  • 1758

    James Abercromby is replaced as supreme commander of British forces after his defeat by French commander the Marquis of Montcalm at Fort Ticonderoga during the French and Indian War.

  • 1742

    William Hooper, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

  • 1709

    Samuel Johnson, English lexicographer, essayist, poet and moralist.

  • 1703

    John Wesley, English evangelist and theologian, founder of the Methodist movement.

  • 1701

    Frederick III, the elector of Brandenburg, becomes king of Prussia.

  • 1698

    After invading Denmark and capturing Sweden, Charles XII of Sweden forces Frederick IV of Denmark to sign the Peace of Travendal.

  • 1692

    William Penn is deprived of his governing powers.

  • 1688

    Quakers in Germantown, Pa. adopt the first formal antislavery resolution in America.

  • 1685

    Edict of Nantes lifted by Louis XIV. The edict, signed at Nantes, France, by King Henry IV in 1598, gave the Huguenots religious liberty, civil rights and security. By revoking the Edict of Nantes, Louis XIV abrogated their religious liberties.

  • 1676

    Sudbury, Massachusetts is attacked by Indians.

  • 1667

    The Dutch fleet sails up the Thames River and threatens London.

  • 1652

    A law is passed in Rhode Island banning slavery in the colonies but it causes little stir and seems unlikely to be enforced.

  • 1648

    The “shoemakers of Boston”–the first labor organization in what would become the United States–was authorized by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

  • 1643

    Queen Anne, the widow of Louis XIII, is granted sole and absolute power as regent by the Paris parliament, overriding the late king’s will.

  • 1626

    St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome is officially dedicated.

  • 1590

    John White, the leader of 117 colonists sent in 1587 to Roanoke Island (North Carolina) to establish a colony, returns from a trip to England to find the settlement deserted. No trace of the settlers is ever found.

  • 1587

    In the Roanoke Island colony, Ellinor and Ananias Dare become parents of a baby girl whom they name Virginia, the first English child born in what would become the United States.

  • 1581

    Sir Thomas Overbury, English poet and courtier.

  • 1579

    Sir Francis Drake claims San Francisco Bay for England.

  • 1521

    Martin Luther confronts the emperor Charles V, refusing to retract the views which led to his excommunication.

  • 1516

    Queen Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of Protestants.

  • 1486

    Henry VII marries Elizabeth of York.

  • 1480

    Lucretia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI and a patron of the arts.

  • 1478

    George, the Duke of Clarence, who had opposed his brother Edward IV, is murdered in the Tower of London.

  • 1477

    William Claxton publishes the first dated book printed in England. It is a translation from the French of The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosopers by Earl Rivers.

  • 1239

    Edward I (Longshanks), King of England (1272-1307).

  • 1155

    German-born Frederick I, Barbarossa, is crowned emperor of Rome.

  • 1118

    Afonso the Battler, the Christian King of Aragon captures Saragossa, Spain, causing a major blow to Muslim Spain.

  • 526

    St. John I ends his reign as Catholic Pope.

  • 362

    Emperor Julian issues an edict banning Christians from teaching in Syria.

  • 310

    St. Eusebius of Vercelli begins his reign as Catholic Pope.

  • 37

    The Roman Senate annuls Tiberius’ will and proclaims Caligula emperor.