What happened on your birthday?

more events on December 2

  • 2006

    A coal mine explosion in Sago, West Virginia, kills 12 miners and critically injures another. This accident and another within weeks lead to the first changes in federal mining laws in decades.

  • 2001

    Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, one of the most complex bankruptcy cases in US history.

  • NATO backs US military strikes in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

  • 2000

    First resident crew arrives at the International Space Station.

  • 1999

    UK devolves political power in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive, the administrative branch of the North Ireland legislature.

  • A severe winter storm hits the Midwestern US; in Chicago temperatures plunge to -13 ºF and19 inches of snow fell; 68 deaths are blamed on the storm.

  • 1998

    Jean Paul Akayesu, former mayor of a small town in Rwanda, found guilty of nine counts of genocide by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

  • 1997

    Author William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch), considered the godfather of the “Beat Generation” in American literature, dies at age 83.

  • 1996

    The Philippine government and Muslim rebels sign a pact, formally ending a 26-year long insurgency.

  • 1993

    NASA launches Space Shuttle Endeavor on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

  • 1992

    The US and Russia agree to a joint venture to build a space station.

  • 1990

    Flight 8301 of China’s Xiamen Airlines is hijacked and crashed into Baiyun International Airport, hitting two other aircraft and killing 128 people.

  • Iraqi forces invade neighboring Kuwait.

  • 1987

    Largest steel strike in American history, in progress since August, ends.

  • 1984

    Serial killer Velma Barfield becomes the first woman executed in the US since 1962.

  • 1983

    President Ronald Reagan signs a bill establishing Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

  • 1982

    Dentist Barney Clark receives the first permanent artificial heart, developed by Dr. Robert K. Jarvik.

  • Argentina invades the British-owned Falkland Islands.

  • 1981

    Brittany Spears, singer, songwriter, actress; her … Baby One More Time (1999) became the best-selling album to date (2013) by a teenage solo artist.

  • The United States plans to send 20 more advisors and $25 million in military aid to El Salvador.

  • British police arrest the “Yorkshire Ripper” serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe.

  • 1980

    A death squad in El Salvador murders four US nuns and churchwomen.

  • Congressional Representative Mike Myers is expelled from the US House for taking a bribe in the Abscam scandal, the first member to be expelled since 1861.

  • President Jimmy Carter reinstates draft registration for males 18 years of age.

  • President Jimmy Carter asks the U.S. Senate to delay the arms treaty ratification in response to Soviet action in Afghanistan.

  • 1978

    Czech pilot Vladimir Remek becomes the first non-Russian, non-American in space.

  • U.S. Jewish leaders bar a meeting with Egypt’s Anwar Sadat.

  • 1976

    Jimmy (James Earl) Carter elected the 39th president of the United States.

  • North and South Vietnam are officially reunified.

  • 1975

    Joseph W. Hatcher of Tallahassee, Florida, becomes the state’s first African-American supreme court justice since Reconstruction.

  • 1974

    A grand jury in Washington, D.C. concludes that President Nixon was indeed involved in the Watergate cover-up.

  • 1973

    Federal forces surround Wounded Knee, South Dakota, which is occupied by members of the militant American Indian Movement who are holding at least 10 hostages.

  • The United States admits the accidental bombing of a Hanoi hospital.

  • 1972

    Samantha Womack, English actress, singer, director (TV and stage); best known for her roles as Mandy Wilkins in Game On and Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders.

  • The Winter Olympics begin in Sapporo, Japan.

  • 1970

    The U.S. Senate votes to give 48,000 acres of New Mexico back to the Taos Indians.

  • Kelly Ripa, actress, producer, co-host of Live! with Kelly and Michael TV talk show.

  • A plane carrying the Wichita State University football team, staff, and supporters crashes in Colorado; 31 of the 40 people aboard die.

  • NASA cancels two planned missions to the moon.

  • Student anti-war protesters at Ohio’s Kent State University burn down the campus ROTC building. The National Guard takes control of campus.

  • 1969

    The Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne slices the destroyer USS Frank E. Evans in half off the shore of South Vietnam.

  • 1968

    The U.S. Army attacks Nhi Ha in South Vietnam and begins a fourteen-day battle to wrestle it away from Vietnamese Communists.

  • The siege of Khe Sanh ends in Vietnam, the U.S. Marines stationed there are still in control of the mountain top.

  • Cuba Gooding Jr., actor; won Academy Award for Jerry Maguire.

  • 1967

    Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice, is sworn in. Marshall had previously been the solicitor general, the head of the legal staff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and a leading American civil rights lawyer.

  • The U.S. launches Operation Buffalo in Vietnam.

  • 1966

    American G.I.s move into the Mekong Delta for the first time.

  • 1965

    Newsman Morley Safer films the destruction of a Vietnamese village by U.S. Marines.

  • More than 150 U.S. and South Vietnamese planes bomb two bases in North Vietnam in the first of the “Rolling Thunder” raids.

  • 1964

    Brazil sends Juan Peron back to Spain, foiling his efforts to return to his native land.

  • Scientists announce findings that smoking can cause cancer.

  • Keanu Reeves, actor (Speed, The Matrix trilogy).

  • U.S. destroyer Maddox is reportedly attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats.

  • President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law.

  • 1963

    Ann Patchett, author; her novel Bel Canto received the Orange Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award (2002).

  • South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated.

  • The US gets its first half-hour TV weeknight national news broadcast when CBS Evening News expands from 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Alabama Governor George Wallace calls state troopers to Tuskegee High School to prevent integration.

  • Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King begins the first non-violent campaign in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • In Vietnam, the Viet Cong down five U.S. helicopters in the Mekong Delta. 30 Americans are reported dead.

  • 1961

    k.d. lang, Grammy-winning Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter, actress, social activist (“Constant Craving”).

  • Novelist Ernest Hemingway commits suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

  • 1960

    A British jury determines that Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence is not obscene.

  • The U.S. Senate approves 23rd Amendment calling for a ban on the poll tax.

  • 1959

    Charles Van Doren confesses that the TV quiz show 21 is fixed and that he had been given the answers to the questions asked him.

  • The groundbreaking TV series The Twilight Zone, hosted by Rod Serling, premiers on CBS.

  • Arlington and Norfolk, Va., peacefully desegregate public schools.

  • 1958

    The National Advisory Council on Aeronautics is renamed NASA.

  • 1956

    Tennessee National Guardsmen halt rioters protesting the admission of 12 African-Americans to schools in Clinton.

  • France grants independence to Morocco.

  • 1955

    Claudette Colvin refuses to give up her seat in Montgomery, Alabama, nine months before Rosa Parks‘ famous arrest for the same offense.

  • 1954

    Stone Phillips, Emmy-winning journalist; co-anchor of Dateline NBC.

  • Senator Joseph McCarthy charges that there are communists working in the CIA and atomic weapons plants.

  • 1953

    Elizabeth II is crowned queen of England at Westminster Abbey.

  • 1952

    Maxine Nightingale, British R&B and soul singer (“Right Back Where We Started From”).

  • Jimmy Connors, former World No. 1 tennis player; reached more Grand Slam quarterfinals than any other male.

  • 1951

    Sting (Gordon M.T. Sumner), singer, songwriter, musician, actor; lead singer and bass player for the band The Police before launching a successful solo career.

  • Mark Harmon, actor (St. Elsewhere, NCIS TV series).

  • The U.S. Navy launches the K-1, the first modern submarine designed to hunt enemy submarines.

  • 1950

    The comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schultz, makes its first appearance in newspapers.

  • The U.S. First Provisional Marine Brigade arrives in Korea from the United States.

  • 1949

    Lois McMaster Bujold, science fiction and fantasy author (The Mountains of Morning; Paladin of Souls); her many awards include four Hugos for best novel, which ties Robert A. Heinlein’s record.

  • Annie Leibovitz, photographer whose subjects include John Lennon and the Rolling Stones.

  • James Fallows, writer and editor of U.S. News and World Report.

  • 1948

    T. Corgaghessan Boyle, novelist and short story writer (Water Music).

  • Harry S Truman is elected the 33rd president of the United States.

  • Terry Bradshaw, athlete, TV sports analyst, actor; first quarterback to win four Super Bowls (Pittsburgh Steelers); Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian passenger on a space mission. During that mission, she and the six other crew members on the space shuttle Challenger perished in an explosion shortly after launch.

  • Jamaican-born track star Herb McKenley sets a new world record for the 400 yard dash.

  • Emmylou Harris, American singer.

  • The United States and Italy sign a pact of friendship, commerce and navigation.

  • Judith Miller, journalist; while working for the New York Times, she was involved in two major controversies, one concerning faulty information in her coverage of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and the other concerning the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

  • 1947

    Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose flies for the first and last time.

  • 1946

    The United States and Great Britain merge their German occupation zones.

  • Dan White, politician; assassinated San Francisco mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.

  • Italian citizens vote by referendum for a republic.

  • Prisoners revolt at California’s Alcatraz prison.

  • Ho Chi Minh is elected president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

  • 1945

    Martin Hellman, cryptologist, co-inventor of public key cryptography.

  • Don McLean, singer, songwriter guitarist, best known for “American Pie,” his tribute to Buddy Holly and early rock ‘n’ roll.

  • Vietnam declares its independence and Nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh proclaims himself its first president.

  • Japan signs the document of surrender aboard the USS Missouri, ending World War II

  • Russian forces take Berlin after 12 days of fierce house-to-house fighting.

  • MacArthur raises the U.S. flag on Corregidor in the Philippines.

  • Some 1,200 Royal Air Force planes blast Wiesbaden and Karlsruhe.

  • 1944

    Ibrahim Rugova, first President of Kosovo (1992–2000) and was re-elected by parliament (2002–2006).

  • General George S. Patton’s troops enter the Saar Valley and break through the Siegfried line.

  • Troops of the U.S. First Army enter Belgium.

  • Allied “shuttle bombing” of Germany begins, with bombers departing from Italy and landing in the Soviet Union.

  • Soviet forces enter Romania, one of Germany’s allied countries.

  • The Germans stop an Allied attack at Anzio, Italy.

  • 1943

    The Battle of Empress Augusta Bay in Bougainville ends in U.S. Navy victory over Japan.

  • Lt. John F. Kennedy, towing an injured sailor, swims to a small island in the Solomon Islands. The night before, his boat, PT-109, had been split in half by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri.

  • The center of Berlin is bombed by the RAF. Some 900 tons of bombs are dropped in a half hour.

  • Last of the German strongholds at Stalingrad surrender to the Red Army.

  • The Allies capture Buna in New Guinea.

  • 1942

    The Allies repel a strong Axis attack in Tunisia, North Africa.

  • Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrives in Gibraltar to set up an American command post for the invasion of North Africa.

  • Isabel Allende, author of The House of the Spirits.

  • The American aircraft carriers Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown move into their battle positions for the Battle of Midway.

  • Admiral Chester J. Nimitz, convinced that the Japanese will attack Midway Island, visits the island to review its readiness.

  • John Irving, novelist (The World According to Garp).

  • Hugh Shelton, US general; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1997–2001; the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US occurred near the end of his term.

  • In the Philippines, the city of Manila and the U.S. Naval base at Cavite fall to Japanese forces.

  • 1941

    The German army launches Operation Typhoon, the drive towards Moscow.

  • Hostilities break out between British forces in Iraq and that country’s pro-German faction.

  • 1939

    Harry Reid, politician; the Nevada Democrat served as Senate Majority Leader (2007– ).

  • Hungary breaks relations with the Soviet Union.

  • 1938

    Queen Sofia of Spain (1975– ).

  • Pat Buchanan, American conservative political commentator, syndicated columnist, author; a senior advisor to presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan.

  • Jay Black, lead singer of the group Jay and the Americans (“Come a Little Bit Closer,” “This Magic Moment”).

  • Rex Reed, actor and film critic; co-hosted the At the Movies TV show.

  • 1937

    Johnnie Cochran, high-profile African American lawyer whose many famous clients included O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson.

  • American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappears in the Central Pacific during an attempt to fly around the world.

  • 1936

    Rose Bird, first female Chief Justice of California (1977-87); also the first Chief Justice in California history to be removed from office by voters.

  • The first high-definition public television transmissions begin from Alexandra Palace in north London by the BBC.

  • Roger Miller, singer, songwriter, actor (“King of the Road,” “Dang Me”).

  • In Berlin, Nazi officials claim that their treatment of Jews is not the business of the League of Nations.

  • 1934

    German President Paul von Hindenburg dies and Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor.

  • Alfred Rosenberg is made philosophical chief of the Nazi Party.

  • 1933

    John Bertrand Gurdon, English developmental biologist who shared Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (2012) for the discovery that mature cells can be converted to stem cells.

  • 1932

    Bolivia accepts Paraguay’s terms for a truce in the Chaco War.

  • Melvin Schwartz, physicist who won the Nobel Prize for work on neutrinos.

  • Peter O’Toole, Irish actor.

  • Charles Lindbergh pays over $50,000 ransom for his kidnapped son.

  • Japanese forces in Manchuria set up a puppet government known as Manchukuo.

  • 1931

    Aerial circus star Clyde Pangborn and playboy Hugh Herndon, Jr. set off to complete the first nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean from Misawa City, Japan.

  • Virne “Jackie” Mitchell becomes the first woman to play for an all-male pro baseball team. In an exhibition game against the New York Yankees, she strikes out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

  • Mikhail Gorbachev, Secretary General of the Soviet Union. Responsible for restructuring the Soviet economy (perestroika) and openness and information (glasnost).

  • 1930

    Novelist D.H. Lawrence dies of tuberculosis in a sanitarium in Vence, France, at the age of 45.

  • 1929

    Richard Taylor, Nobel Prize-winning physicist who proved the existence of quarks.

  • 1928

    Nationalist Chiang Kai-shek captures Peking, China, in a bloodless takeover.

  • 1927

    The new Ford Model A is introduced to the American public.

  • 1926

    Air Commerce Act is passed, providing federal aid for airlines and airports.

  • Medgar Evers, American civil rights activist.

  • Congress establishes the Army Air Corps.

  • 1925

    Alexander Haig, American army general and Secretary of State for President Ronald Reagan.

  • William J. Crowe, US admiral; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under US presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush; he was ambassador to the UK under President Bill Clinton.

  • 1924

    James Baldwin, writer whose works include Go Tell It on the Mountain and Notes of a Native Son.

  • The United States grants full citizenship to American Indians.

  • 1923

    U.S. Navy aviator H.J. Brown sets new world speed record of 259 mph in a Curtiss racer.

  • Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes president upon the death of Warren G. Harding.

  • Lieutenants Oakley Kelly and John Macready take off from New York for the West Coast on what will become the first successful nonstop transcontinental flight.

  • Doc Watson, singer and guitarist.

  • In Italy, Mussolini admits that women have a right to vote, but declares that the time is not right.

  • 1921

    The first successful helium dirigible, C-7, makes a test flight in Portsmouth, Va.

  • Margaret Sanger and Mary Ware Dennett form the American Birth Control League.

  • Satyajit Ray, Indian film director (Aparajito, The World of Apu).

  • Airmail service opens between New York and San Francisco. Airmail’s First Day.

  • 1920

    Charlotte Woodward, who signed the 1848 Seneca Falls Declaration calling for female voting rights, casts her ballot in a presidential election.

  • The first radio broadcast in the United States is made from Pittsburgh.

  • Isaac Asimov, American writer of over 300 books including Foundation and I, Robot.

  • 1919

    The first U.S. air passenger service starts.

  • 1918

    Armenia proclaims independence from Turkey.

  • A British force lands in Archangel, Russia, to support White Russian opposition to the Bolsheviks.

  • Robert Sarnoff, president of NBC.

  • Russian Bolsheviks threaten to re-enter the war unless Germany returns occupied territory.

  • 1917

    Jeannette Pickering Rankin is sworn in as the first woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • President Woodrow Wilson presents a declaration of war against Germany to Congress.

  • Congress passes the Jones Act making Puerto Rico a territory of the United States and makes the inhabitants U.S. citizens.

  • 1916

    Barry Gray, radio talk show host.

  • U.S. Senate votes independence for Philippines, effective in 1921.

  • 1915

    Austro-German armies take Grodno, Poland.

  • 1914

    Austrian troops occupy Belgrade, Serbia.

  • Russia declares war with Turkey.

  • Alec Guinness, British actor.

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve Board announces plans to divide the country into 12 districts.

  • 1913

    Burt Lancaster, American film actor.

  • Barbara Pym (Mary Crampton), English novelist (Less Than Angels, Quartet in Autumn).

  • 1912

    Henry Armstrong, the only boxer to hold three titles simultaneously.

  • 1910

    Alice Stebbins Wells is admitted to the Los Angeles Police Force as the first woman police officer to receive an appointment based on a civil service exam.

  • Charles Stewart Rolls, one of the founders of Rolls-Royce, becomes the first man to fly an airplane nonstop across the English Channel both ways. Tragically, he becomes Britain’s first aircraft fatality the following month when his biplane breaks up in midair.

  • Karl Harris perfects the process for the artificial synthesis of rubber.

  • 1909

    J.P. Morgan acquires majority holdings in Equitable Life Co. This is the largest concentration of bank power to date.

  • Orville Wright sets an altitude record, flying at 1,600 feet. This exceeded Hubert Latham’s previous record of 508 feet.

  • 1908

    Thurgood Marshall, first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

  • Gabriel Lippman introduces the new three-dimensional color photography at the Academy of Sciences.

  • An international conference on arms reduction opens in London.

  • 1907

    Spain and France agree to enforce Moroccan measures adopted in 1906.

  • Alexander R. Todd, Baron Todd, Scottish biochemist who won Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1957) for his work on nucleotides, nucleosides, and nucleotide coenzymes.

  • 1906

    Peter Carl Goldmark, engineer, developed the first commercial color television and the long-playing phonograph record.

  • Luchino Visconti, film director (Obsession, Death in Venice).

  • 1905

    Serge Lifar, dancer and opera director.

  • Kurt Adler, American conductor.

  • After a six-month siege, Russians surrender Port Arthur to the Japanese.

  • 1904

    Graham Greene, novelist (The Power and The Glory, The Heart of the Matter).

  • Johnny Weissmuller, American gold-winning Olympic swimmer who portrayed Tarzan in films.

  • Theodor Seuss Geisel [Dr. Seuss], author of numerous children’s books including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

  • Henry Dreyfuss, industrial designer of everything from telephones to the interior of the Boeing 707.

  • U.S. Marines are sent to Santo Domingo to aid the government against rebel forces.

  • 1903

    London’s Daily Mirror newspaper is first published.

  • Robert Morris Page, physicist, inventor of pulse radar.

  • Benjamin Spock, pediatrician, author and activist.

  • President Theodore Roosevelt closes a post office in Indianola, Mississippi, for refusing to hire a Black postmistress.

  • 1901

    Roy Campbell, poet (The Flaming Terrapin).

  • Adolph Rupp, basketball coach at the University of Kentucky who achieved a record 876 victories.

  • Congress passes the Platt amendment, which limits Cuban autonomy as a condition for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

  • Mexican government troops are badly beaten by Yaqui Indians.

  • 1900

    William A. ‘Bud’ Abbot, comedian, the straight man to Lou Costello.

  • Tyrone Guthrie, English theater director.

  • Kurt Weill, German-born composer (The Threepenny Opera).

  • Six cities, Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago and St. Louis agree to form baseball‘s American League.

  • 1898

    Sir Herbert Kitchener leads the British to victory over the Mahdists at Omdurman and takes Khartoum.

  • 1896

    Georgi Zhukov, Soviet general who captured Berlin during World War II.

  • Bone Mizell, the famed cowboy of Florida, is sentenced to two years of hard labor in the state pen for cattle rustling. He would only serve a small portion of the sentence.

  • 1895

    Lorenz Milton Hart, lyricist, collaborator with Richard Rodgers.

  • George Halas, National Football League co-founder.

  • 1894

    Andre Kertesz, photographer.

  • 1892

    Lawmen surround outlaws Ned Christie and Arch Wolf near Tahlequah, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). It will take dynamite and a cannon to dislodge the two from their cabin.

  • Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron), German fighter ace of World War I.

  • 1891

    Max Ernst, German painter, sculptor and founder of surrealism.

  • 1890

    Julius Henry ‘Groucho’ Marx, comedian, one of the five Marx brothers (the others being Chico, Harpo, Zeppo and Gummo).

  • The Territory of Oklahoma is created.

  • Charles Correl, radio performer.

  • 1889

    South Dakota is made the 40th state.

  • North Dakota is made the 39th state.

  • Congress passes the Indian Appropriations Bill, proclaiming unassigned lands in the public domain; the first step toward the famous Oklahoma Land Rush.

  • 1886

    Grover Cleveland becomes the first American president to wed while in office.

  • 1885

    Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer and lawyer (Zorba the Greek).

  • Harlow Shapley, astronomer who discovered the Sun is not at the center of the galaxy.

  • In Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, 28 Chinese laborers are killed and hundreds more chased out of town by striking coal miners.

  • King Leopold II of Belgium establishes the Congo Free State.

  • 1884

    Ruth Draper, actress and writer.

  • 1883

    The first baseball game under electric lights is played in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

  • 1882

    Newly elected John Poe replaces Pat Garrett as sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory.

  • James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet (Ulysses, Portrait of a Young Man).

  • 1881

    Charles J. Guiteau fatally wounds President James A. Garfield in Washington, D.C.

  • 1880

    James A. Garfield is elected the 20th president of the United States.

  • 1879

    Wallace Stevens, poet.

  • A dual alliance is formed between Austria and Germany, in which the two countries agree to come to the other’s aid in the event of aggression.

  • 1877

    Frederick Soddy, named an isotope and received 1921 Nobel prize for chemistry.

  • Hermann Hesse, German novelist and poet.

  • Vernon Castle, ballroom dancer.

  • Rutherford B. Hayes is declared president by one vote the day before the inauguration.

  • 1876

    Wild Bill Hickok is shot while playing poker.

  • The National Baseball League is founded with eight teams.

  • 1875

    Walter P. Chrysler, founder of Chrysler Automobile Company.

  • 1871

    Cordell Hull, Secretary of State for President Franklin Roosevelt.

  • Morman leader Brigham Young, 70, is arrested for polygamy. He was later convicted, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction.

  • 1870

    The papal states vote in favor of union with Italy. The capital is moved from Florence to Rome.

  • Napoleon III capitulates to the Prussians at Sedan, France.

  • The press agencies Havas, Reuter and Wolff sign an agreement whereby between them they can cover the whole world.

  • 1869

    Sheriff Wild Bill Hickok loses his re-election bid in Ellis County, Kan.

  • Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi, political leader of India and pioneer of nonviolent activism.

  • 1867

    People wait in mile-long lines to hear Charles Dickens give his first reading in New York City.

  • The first Reconstruction Act is passed by Congress.

  • 1866

    Jesse Lazear, American physician and researcher of yellow fever.

  • Gilbert Murray, Australian-born scholar, chairman of the League of Nations, (1923-1928).

  • 1865

    Warren G. Harding, 29th president of the United States (1921-23).

  • Irving Babbitt, scholar and founder of the modern humanistic movement.

  • At Galveston, Texas, Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith surrenders the Trans-Mississippi Department to Union forces.

  • President Andrew Johnson offers a $100,000 reward for the capture of the Confederate President

  • Confederate President Jefferson Davis flees Richmond, Virginia as Grant breaks Lee’s line at Petersburg.

  • President Abraham Lincoln rejects Confederate General Robert E. Lee‘s plea for peace talks, demanding unconditional surrender.

  • Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwackers rob citizens, burn a railroad depot and steal horses from Midway, Kentucky.

  • 1864

    Major General Grenville M. Dodge is named to replace General William Rosecrans as Commander of the Department of Missouri.

  • 1863

    Charles Ringling, one of the seven Ringling brothers of circus fame.

  • General Braxton Bragg turns over command of the Army of Tennessee to General William Hardee at Dalton, Ga.

  • The Union left flank holds at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg.

  • Stonewall Jackson smashes Joseph Hooker’s flank at Chancellorsville, Virginia.

  • In the second day of hard fighting at Stone’s River, near Murfreesboro, Tenn., Union troops defeat the Confederates.

  • 1862

    An Army under Union General Joseph Hooker arrives in Bridgeport, Alabama to support the Union forces at Chattanooga. Chattanooga’s Lookout Mountain provides a dramatic setting for the Civil War’s battle above the clouds.

  • The Army Ambulance Corps is established by Maj. Gen. George McClellan.

  • Union General John Pope captures Orange Court House, Virginia.

  • 1861

    Helen Herron Taft, First Lady to President William Howard Taft.

  • The USS Brooklyn is readied at Norfolk to aid Fort Sumter.

  • 1860

    William Maddock Bayliss, British physiologist, co-discoverer of hormones.

  • 1859

    Georges Seurat, French painter, founder and leader of the Pointilism style.

  • French forces cross the Ticino River.

  • 1858

    Czar Alexander II frees the serfs working on imperial lands.

  • 1853

    The Territory of Washington is organized.

  • 1850

    Eugene Field, poet and journalist.

  • 1848

    The Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo formally ends the Mexican War.

  • 1847

    Paul von Hindenburg, German Field Marshall during World War I and second president of the Weimar Republic.

  • William A. Leidesdorff launches the first steam boat in San Francisco Bay.

  • 1841

    The second Afghan War begins.

  • 1840

    Thomas Hardy, English poet and novelist (Far From the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D’Urbervilles).

  • Emile Zola, French novelist and activist.

  • 1839

    Photography pioneer Louis Daguerre takes the first photograph of the moon.

  • 1838

    Lydia Kamakaeha Liliuokalani, last sovereign before annexation of Hawaii by the United States.

  • 1837

    Dr. Joseph Bell, British physician believed to be the prototype of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes.

  • Henry Martyn Robert, parliamentarian (Robert’s Rules of Order).

  • 1836

    Texas declares independence from Mexico on Sam Houston’s 43rd birthday.

  • 1834

    Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, sculptor.

  • 1832

    Troops under General Henry Atkinson massacre Sauk Indian men, women and children who are followers of Black Hawk at the Bad Axe River in Wisconsin. Black Hawk himself finally surrenders three weeks later, bringing the Black Hawk War to an end.

  • 1829

    Carl Schurz, Civil War general, political reformer and anti-imperialist.

  • 1823

    President James Monroe proclaims the principles known as the Monroe Doctrine, "that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by European powers."

  • 1822

    Denmark Vesey is executed in Charleston, South Carolina, for planning a massive slave revolt.

  • 1820

    John Tyndall, British physicist and the first scientist to show why the sky is blue.

  • 1819

    The first parachute jump from a balloon is made by Charles Guille in New York City.

  • 1818

    The British army defeats the Maratha alliance in Bombay, India.

  • 1815

    To put an end to robberies by the Barbary pirates, the United States declares war on Algiers.

  • 1813

    Napoleon defeats a Russian and Prussian army at Grossgorschen.

  • 1810

    Leo XIII, 256th Roman Catholic Pope.

  • 1808

    The citizens of Madrid rise up against Napoleon.

  • 1805

    Napoleon Bonaparte celebrates the first anniversary of his coronation with a victory at Austerlitz over a Russian and Austrian army.

  • Hans Christian Andersen, Danish author of fairy tales.

  • 1804

    Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor of France in Notre Dame Cathedral.

  • 1802

    Napoleon Bonaparte is proclaimed “Consul for Life” by the French Senate after a plebiscite from the French people.

  • 1801

    The British navy defeats the Danish at the Battle of Copenhagen.

  • 1798

    The Maltese people revolt against the French occupation, forcing the French troops to take refuge in the citadel of Valletta in Malta.

  • The black General Toussaint Louverture forces British troops to agree to evacuate the port of Santo Domingo.

  • 1797

    A mutiny in the British navy spreads from Spithead to the rest of the fleet.

  • The Directory of Great Britain authorizes vessels of war to board and seize neutral vessels, particularly if the ships are American.

  • 1796

    Haitian revolt leader Toussaint L’Ouverture takes command of French forces at Santo Domingo.

  • 1795

    James Polk, 11th president of the United States (1845-49).

  • 1793

    Maximilien Robespierre, a member of France’s Committee on Public Safety, initiates the “Reign of Terror.”

  • Sam Houston, president of Texas, later Texas senator and governor.

  • 1792

    Verdun, France, surrenders to the Prussian Army.

  • The United States authorizes the minting of the $10 Eagle, $5 half-Eagle & 2.50 quarter-Eagle gold coins as well as the silver dollar, dollar, quarter, dime & half-dime.

  • 1790

    The first US census begins enumerating the population.

  • 1789

    The property of the church in France is taken away by the state.

  • The Treasury Department, headed by Alexander Hamilton, is created in New York City.

  • 1781

    Maryland ratifies the Articles of Confederation. She is the last state to sign.

  • 1776

    The Continental Congress, having decided unanimously to make the Declaration of Independence, affixes the signatures of the other delegates to the document.

  • The Continental Congress resolves with the Declaration of Independence that the American colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”

  • France and Spain agree to donate arms to American rebels fighting the British.

  • Americans begin shelling British troops in Boston.

  • 1774

    The Quartering Act, requiring American colonists to allow British soldiers into their houses, is reenacted.

  • 1772

    The first Committees of Correspondence are formed in Massachusetts under Samuel Adams.

  • 1758

    The French begin bombardment of Madras, India.

  • 1755

    Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, executed during the French Revolution.

  • 1754

    Pierre Charles L’Enfant, French engineer who designed the layout of Washington, D.C.

  • Charles Maurice de Tallyrand-Perigord, minister of foreign affairs for Napoleon I, who represented France brilliantly at the Congress of Vienna.

  • 1748

    Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle ends the War of Devolution in France.

  • 1747

    Marshall Saxe leads the French forces to victory over an Anglo-Dutch force under the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of Lauffeld.

  • 1740

    Donatien Alphonse Francois, the Marquis de Sade.

  • 1734

    Daniel Boone, American frontiersman and explorer.

  • 1731

    Martha Dandridge, the first First Lady of the United States. Widow of Daniel Park Custis, she married George Washington in 1759.

  • 1729

    Catherine II, Czarina of Russia.

  • 1725

    Giovanni Casanova, Italian adventurer.

  • 1670

    The Hudson Bay Company is founded.

  • 1666

    The Great Fire of London, which devastates the city, begins.

  • 1644

    Oliver Cromwell crushes the Royalists at the Battle of Marston Moor.

  • 1626

    Charles I is crowned King of England. Fierce internal struggles between the monarchy and Parliament characterized 17th century English politics.

  • 1625

    The Spanish army takes Breda, Spain, after nearly a year of siege.

  • 1598

    Henry IV signs Treaty of Vervins, ending Spain’s interference in France.

  • 1589

    During France’s religious war, a fanatical monk stabs King Henry II to death.

  • 1571

    All eight members of a Jesuit mission in Virginia are murdered by Indians who pretended to be their friends.

  • 1570

    A tidal wave in the North Sea destroys the sea walls from Holland to Jutland. More than 1,000 people are killed.

  • 1553

    An invading French army is destroyed at the Battle of Marciano in Italy by an imperial army.

  • 1552

    The treaty of Passau gives religious freedom to Protestants living in Germany.

  • 1537

    Pope Paul III bans the enslavement of Indians in the New World.

  • 1535

    Having landed in Quebec a month ago, Jacques Cartier reaches a town, which he names Montreal.

  • 1494

    Columbus begins the practice of using Indians as slaves.

  • 1492

    Catholic forces under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella take the town of Granada, the last Muslim kingdom in Spain.

  • 1489

    Thomas Cranmer, first Protestant archbishop of Canterbury (1533-1556).

  • 1298

    An army under Albert of Austria defeats forces led by Adolf of Nassau.

  • 1263

    At Largs, King Alexander III of Scotland repels an amphibious invasion by King Haakon IV of Norway.

  • 1032

    Conrad II claims the throne of France.

  • 962

    Otto I invades Italy and is crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

  • 742

    Charlemagne, first Holy Roman Emperor.

  • 216

    Hannibal Barca wins his greatest victory over the Romans at Cannae. After avidly studying the tactics of Hannibal, Scipio Africanus eventually bested his Carthaginian adversary.

  • 47

    Caesar defeats Pharnaces at Zela in Syria and declares, “veni, vidi, vici,” (I came, I saw, I conquered).