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Daily History

This category contains 372 posts

December 31 1999 Panama Canal handover


On December 31st 1999, the United States, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, officially handed over control of the Panama Canal, putting the strategic waterway into Panamanian hands for the first time. Crowds of Panamanians celebrated the transfer of the 50-mile canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and officially opened when the SS … Continue reading

December 30 2006 Saddam Hussein executed


On December 30th 2006, fallen dictator Saddam Hussein was hanged at dawn, a dramatic end for a leader who ruled Iraq by fear for three decades before a U.S. invasion toppled him. He was then convicted of crimes against humanity. As day broke on one of the holiest days of the Muslim year and the … Continue reading

December 29 1890 US Army massacres Indians at Wounded Knee


On December 29th 1890, in the final chapter of America‘s long Indian wars, the U.S. Cavalry killed 146 Sioux at Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Throughout 1890, the U.S. government worried about the increasing influence at Pine Ridge of the Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which taught that Indians had been … Continue reading

December 28 1895 First commercial movie screened in Paris


On December 28th 1895, the world’s first commercial movie screening took place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers unveiled their invention to the public in March 1895 with a brief film showing workers … Continue reading

December 27 1932 Radio City Music Hall opens


On December 27th 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, thousands turned out for the opening of Radio City Music Hall, a magnificent Art Deco theatre in New York City. Radio City Music Hall was designed as a palace for the people, a place of beauty where ordinary people could see high-quality entertainment. Since … Continue reading

December 26 1946 Bugsy Siegel opens Flamingo Hotel


On December 26th 1946, in Las Vegas, Nevada, mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel opens The Pink Flamingo Hotel & Casino at a total cost of $6 million. The 40-acre facility wasn’t complete and Siegel was hoping to raise some revenue with the grand opening. Well-known singer and comedian Jimmy Durante headlined the entertainment, with music by … Continue reading

December 25 1914 Christmas Truce


On December 25th 1914, just after midnight on Christmas morning, the majority of German troops engaged in World War I ceased firing their guns and artillery and commenced to sing Christmas carols. At certain points along the eastern and western fronts, the soldiers of Russia, France, and Britain even heard brass bands joining the Germans … Continue reading

December 24 1979 Soviet tanks enter Afghanistan


On December 24th 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978. As midnight approached, the Soviets organised a massive military airlift into Kabul, involving an estimated 280 transport aircraft and three divisions of almost 8,500 men each. Within a few days, the Soviets had secured Kabul, … Continue reading

December 23 1888 Vincent Van Gogh cuts off his ear


On December 23rd 1888, in what has become known as one of the more bizarre acts by artists (a feat hard to achieve), acclaimed 19th century artist Vincent Van Gogh cut off the lower part of his ear. The act was by no means a form of art, though given postmodern art this would not … Continue reading

December 22 1989 Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship in Romania ends


On December 22nd 1989, Nicolae Ceaucescu’s dictatorship in Romania ended, after politician Ion Iliescu became the new President. It was also the official end of Communism within Romania, after 42 years of Communist rule under leaders Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Nicolae Ceausescu. While Gheorghiu-Dej is often condemned as a neo-Stalinist ruler, despite his attempts to abandon … Continue reading

December 21 69 Coronation of Roman Emperor Vespasian


On December 21st 69 the coronation of Titus Flavius Vespasianus took place. He was the first Roman Emperor to ascend the throne in relative peace following the demise of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and the disastrous reign of Nero. The year 69 AD was known in Roman history as the year of the Four Emperors. Nero’s … Continue reading

December 20 1917 Creation of Russia’s Cheka security service


On December 20th 1917, the first Soviet security organisation, Cheka, was founded. While the KGB is the stereotypical Soviet secret police in modern society, the Cheka were the first of its kind, created by Lenin in 1917 in order to stabilise Russian society after the Bolshevik Revolution and the dismantling of the Russian monarchy. Cheka’s … Continue reading

December 19 1984 Britain and China sign Hong Kong return agreement


On December 19th 1984, in the Hall of the People in Beijing, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang signed an accord committing Britain to give Hong Kong back to China in 1997. In return, China incorporated terms pledging a 50 year continuation of Britain’s capitalist system. Hong Kong, a small peninsula … Continue reading

December 18 1961 “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” reaches number 1


On December 18th 1961, The Lion Sleeps Tonight hit number one on the Billboard Charts. It was an instant classic that endured to become one of the most successful pop songs of all time. Few realise, however, that its true originator saw only a minuscule portion of the song’s massive profits. The story began in … Continue reading

December 17 1903 Wright brothers make first powered flight


On December 17th 1903, the first successful flight of the Wright Flyer took place. One of the biggest milestones in the evolution of commercial air flight, the Wright Flyer was the first powered aircraft, and the result of the Wright Brothers’ decade-long interest in aeronautical flight. The Wright Flyer underwent two separate flights at Kitty … Continue reading

December 16 1775 Jane Austen born


On December 16th 1775, English novelist Jane Austen was born, the seventh of eight children of a clergyman in a country village in Hampshire, England. Jane was very close to her older sister, Cassandra, who remained her faithful editor and critic throughout her life. The girls had five years of formal schooling, then studied with … Continue reading

December 15 1874 Hawaiian King Kalakaua visits USA


On December 15th 1874, Hawaiian King David Kalakaua became the first reigning king to visit the United States. King Kalakaua visited President Ulysses S Grant at the White House. David Kalakau, the last king of Hawaii, was born in Honolulu in 1836. He was the son of a high chief, and was educated at the … Continue reading

December 14 1977 Saturday Night Fever premieres in Los Angeles


On December 14th 1977, Saturday Night Fever had its world premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. The film made a star out of 23 year old John Travolta, and propelled the already famous Bee Gees to superstardom that had rarely or has since been achieved. Well-cast, well-acted and well-directed, Saturday Night Fever received … Continue reading

December 13 1925 Dick Van Dyke born


On December 13th 1925, Dick Van Dyke was born in West Plains, Missouri. The classic “nice guy” actor would became famous for his roles in such movie classics as Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as the popular 1960s TV sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. Van Dyke, who was reared in … Continue reading

December 12 1901 Marconi sent first trans-Atlantic radio broadcast


On December 12th 1901, Italian physicist and radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi was successful in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, refuting detractors who told him that the curvature of the earth would limit transmission to 200 miles or less. The message, simply the Morse-code signal for the letter “s”, travelled more than … Continue reading

December 11 1936 Edward VIII abdicates British throne


On December 11th 1936, after ruling for less than one year, Edward VIII was the first English monarch to freely abdicate the throne. He chose to abdicate after the British government, public, and the Church of England condemned his choice to marry the American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson. On the evening of December 11, he … Continue reading

December 10 1901 First Nobel Prizes awarded


On December 10th 1901, the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his … Continue reading

December 9 1992 Prince Charles and Princess Diana announce seperation


On December 9th 1992, British Prime Minister John Major announced the formal separation of the egotistical and big-eared Prince Charles, and the beautiful and popular Princess Diana. Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, and his wife, the overwhelmingly more gracious and admired Princess Diana, had for years been the subject of … Continue reading

December 8 1980: John Lennon murdered


On December 8th 1980, John Lennon, a former member of the Beatles rock group that transformed popular music in the 1960s, was shot and killed by an obsessed fan in New York City. The 40-year-old artist was entering his luxury Manhattan apartment building when Mark David Chapman shot him four times at close range with … Continue reading

December 7 1941: Japan attacks Pearl Harbor


On December 7th 1941, at 7:55 am  Hawaii time, a swarm of 360 Japanese war planes appeared out of the clouds above the island of Oahu, in Hawaii. then descended on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and … Continue reading

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