Chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.
1492 Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Santo Domingo in search of gold.
1776 Phi Beta Kappa, the first scholastic fraternity, is founded at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.
1812 The majority of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grand Armeé staggers into Vilna, Lithuania, ending the failed Russian campaign.
1861 Union General George G. Meade leads a foraging expedition to Gunnell’s farm near Dranesville, Virginia.
1862 President Abraham Lincoln orders the hanging of 39 of the 303 convicted Indians who participated in the Sioux Uprising in Minnesota. They are to be hanged on December 26.
1863 The monitor Weehawken sinks in Charleston Harbor.
1865 The 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery.
1876 Jack McCall is convicted for the murder of Wild Bill Hickok and sentenced to hang.
1877 Thomas A. Edison makes the first sound recording when he recites “Mary had a Little Lamb” into his phonograph machine.
1906 Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge flies a powered, man-carrying kite that carries him 168 feet in the air for seven minutes at Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
1917 The Bolsheviks imprison Czar Nicholas II and his family in Tobolsk.
1921 Ireland’s 26 southern counties become independent from Britain forming the Irish Free State.
1922 Benito Mussolini threatens Italian newspapers with censorship if they keep reporting “false” information.
1934 American Ambassador Davis says Japan is a grave security threat in the Pacific.
1938 France and Germany sign a treaty of friendship.
1939 Britain agrees to send arms to Finland, which is fighting off a Soviet invasion.
1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues a personal appeal to Emperor Hirohito to use his influence to avoid war.
1945 The United States extends a $3 billion loan to Great Britain to help compensate for the termination of the Lend-Lease agreement.
1947 Florida’s Everglades National Park is established.
1948 The “Pumpkin Spy Papers” are found on the Maryland farm of Whittaker Chambers. They become evidence that State Department employee Alger Hiss is spying for the Soviet Union.
1957 Vanguard TV3 explodes on the launchpad, thwarting the first US attempt to launch a satellite into Earth’s orbit.
1967 Adrian Kantrowitz performs first human heart transplant in the US.
1969 Hells Angels, hired to provide security at a Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway in California, beat to death concert-goer Meredith Hunter.
1971 Pakistan severs diplomatic relations with India after New Delhi recognizes the state of Bangladesh.
1973 US House of Representatives confirms Gerald Ford as Vice-President of the United States, 387–35.
1975 A Provisional IRA unit takes a couple hostage in Balcombe Street, London, and a 6-day siege begins.
1976 Democrat Tip O’Neill is elected speaker of the House of Representatives. He will serve the longest consecutive term as speaker.
1992 The Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, India, is destroyed during a riot that started as a political protest.
2006 NASA reveals photographs from Mars Global Surveyor that suggest the presence of water on the red planet.
Born on December 6.
1421 Henry VI, the youngest king of England to accede to the throne (only 269 days old).
1886 Joyce Kilmer, American poet, best known for “Trees.”
1896 Ira Gershwin, American lyricist and musical collaborator with his brother George.
1898 Alfred Eisenstaedt, photojournalist.
1898 Gunnar Myrdal, Swedish economist and sociologist.
1901 Eliot Porter, nature photographer.
1920 Dave Brubeck, jazz pianist and composer.
1942 Peter Handke, playwright and poet.
1948 JoBeth Williams, actress, director (Poltergeist, The Big Chill); current (2013) president of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
1952 Charles Bronson (Michael Gordon Peterson), criminal often called “the most violent prisoner in Britain” by the British Press.
1952 Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.
1967 Judd Apatow, film producer, director, screenwriter (Bridesmaids).>