1774 – The British closed the port of Boston to all commerce.
1799 – In Palestine, Napoleon captured Jaffa and his men massacred more than 2,000 Albanian prisoners.
1848 – In Hawaii, the Great Mahele was signed.
1849 – The Austrian Reichstag was dissolved.
1850 – U.S. Senator Daniel Webster endorsed the Compromise of 1850 as a method of preserving the Union.
1854 – Charles Miller received a patent for the sewing machine.
1876 – Alexander Graham Bell received a patent (U.S. Patent No. 174,465) for his telephone.
1900: The German liner SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse became the first ship to send wireless signals to shore.
1901 – It was announced that blacks had been found enslaved in parts of South Carolina.
1904 – The Japanese bombed the Russian town of Vladivostok.
1904 – In Springfield, OH, a mob broke into a jail and shot a black man accused of murder.
1912: Roald Amundsen announced that his expedition had reached the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911.
1939: Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians first record, “Auld Lang Syne.”
1936: Nazi leader Adolf Hitler violated the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact by sending German military forces into the Rhineland, a demilitarized zone along the Rhine River in western Germany.
1985: The song “We Are the World” received its international release.
1994: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parodies of an original work are generally covered by the doctrine of fair use.
2003: Scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center announced that they had transferred 6.7 gigabytes of uncompressed data from Sunnvale, CA, to Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 58 seconds. The data was sent via fiber-optic cables and traveled 6,800 miles.
2009: NASA’s Kepler Mission, a space photometer for searching for extrasolar planets in the Milky Way galaxy, was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
2012: The successor to Apple’s iPad2 was unveiled.
1655: John Casor became the first legally-recognized slave in England’s North American colonies.
1775: An anonymous writer, thought by some to be Thomas Paine, published “African Slavery in America,” the first article in the American colonies calling for the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery.
1874: Millard Fillmore, 13th U.S. president, died in Buffalo, N.Y., at age 74.
1910: French aviator Raymonde de Laroche became the first woman to receive a pilot’s license.
1924: The Castle Gate mine disaster killed 172 coal miners near Castle Gate, Utah.
1930: William Howard Taft (27th president and 10th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) died in Washington, D.C. at age 72.
1936: Daytona Beach Road Course held its first oval stock car race.
1941: Screenwriter Sherwood Anderson died of peritonitis at a hospital in Colón, Panama, several days after swallowing a toothpick while on a cruise to South America.
1973: Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, founding member of the Grateful Dead, died of gastrointestinal hemorrhage associated with alcoholism, in Corte Madera, Calif., at age 27, joining the 27 Club.
1978: The first radio episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams was transmitted on BBC Radio 4.
1979: Philips demonstrated the compact disc publicly for the first time.
1983: President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”
1991:Planeloads of U.S. troops arrive home from the Persian Gulf, Iraq hands over 40 foreign journalists and 2 American soldiers it captured
2012: In retaliation for recently approved U.N. sanctions, generals in North Korea claim they are aiming their long range missiles at the U.S. mainland
2014: Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 left Kuala Lumpur on a direct flight to Beijing. The Boeing 777 with 239 people onboard changed course and disappeared without a trace. (A wing flap was found on July 29, 2015, on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean that was positively linked to the missing craft.)
1841: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. The Amistad that captive Africans who had seized control of the ship carrying them had been taken into slavery illegally.
1842: The first documented discovery of gold in California occurred at Rancho San Francisco, six years before the California Gold Rush.
1916: During the Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa led nearly 500 Mexican raiders in an attack against the border town of Columbus, New Mexico.
1936: The German press warned that all Jews who vote in the upcoming elections would be arrested.
1945: During World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan.
1946: The A.F.L. accused Juan Peron of using the army to establish a dictatorship over Argentine labor.
1949: The first all-electric dining car was placed in service on the Illinois Central Railroad.
1959: The Barbie doll made its debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.
1964:Production began on the first Ford Mustang.
1965: The first U.S. combat troops arrived in South Vietnam.
1967: Svetlana Alliluyeva, Josef Stalin’s daughter defected to the United States.
1969: “The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour” was canceled by CBS-TV.
1973: Zach McNew wa born in Missoula, Mont. To Candace and Michael McNew of Bull Lake. Happy 45th birthday Zach.
1975: Work began on the Alaskan oil pipeline.
1975: Iraq launched an offensive against the rebel Kurds.
1977: About a dozen armed Hanafi Muslims invaded three buildings in Washington, DC. They killed one person and took more than 130 hostages. The siege ended two days later.
1996: Comedian George Burns died at age 100 in Los Angeles.
1804: The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of the USA.
1831: The French Foreign Legion was established by King Louis Philippe to support his war in Algeria.
1862: the first U.S. paper money was issued; The denominations were $5, $10, and $20.
1876: Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call by saying “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”
1891: Almon Strowger, an undertaker in Topeka, Kansas, patented the Strowger switch, a device that led to the automation of telephone circuit switching.
1933: An earthquake in Long Beach, Calif., killed 115 people and caused an estimated $40 million in damage.
1940: Action movie actor Chuck Norris was born in Ryan, Okla.
1945: The U.S. Army Air Force firebombed Tokyo. The resulting firestorm killed more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians.
1969: In Memphis, Tenn., James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. (He later unsuccessfully attempted to retract his plea.)
1977: Astronomers discovered rings around Uranus.
1888: The infamous “Blizzard of ’88” struck the northeastern United States, causing about 400 deaths.
1903: U.S. orchestra leader Lawrence Welk was born in Strasburg, N.D. (Died May 17, 1992.)
1936: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was born in Trenton, N.J. (died Feb. 13, 2016.)
1942: With Japanese forces advancing across the Pacific, Gen. Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines for Australia, vowing, “I shall return.” (He did so nearly three years later.)
1950: Born this day: singer Bobbie McFerrin and movie director Jerry Zucker.
2011: Japan was struck by a 9.0 undersea earthquake. The ensuing tsunami obliterated several cities in northeast Japan and killed over 10,000 people. The tsunami also inflicted $40 million damage on Crescent City, Calif., and swept away one man.
1894: Coca-Cola was bottled and sold for the first time, in Vicksburg, Miss., by local soda fountain operator Joseph Biedenharn.
1912: Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Guides (later the Girl Scouts of America) in Savannah, Ga.
1928: The St. Francis Dam, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Calif., failed catastrophically; the resulting floods killed over 600 people.
1957: Born this day: actor Jerry Levine, and singer Marlon Jackson (the Jackson Five).
1971: Actor David Burns, 70, died of a heart attack onstage during a performance of 70 Girls 70 in Philadelphia.
1993: Janet Reno was sworn in as the nation’s first female attorney general, under President Bill Clinton.
2009: Financier Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty in New York to scamming $18 billion, the largest in Wall Street history.
2011: A reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan melted and exploded, releasing radioactivity into the atmosphere a day after an earthquake.
1781: William Herschel discovered Uranus.
1925: Tennessee outlawed the teaching of evolution.
1930: News of the discovery of Pluto was telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory.
1964: New York City resident Kitty Genovese was murdered, reportedly in view of neighbors who did nothing to help her, prompting research into the so-called bystander effect.
1971: Arlester “Dyke” Christian, leader of the influential black funk band Dyke & the Blazers, was shot to death in Phoenix, Ariz., at age 27, joining the 27 Club.
1993: Birmingham, Ala., received 13 inches of snow.
1996: In Dunblane, Scotland, gunman Thomas Watt Hamilton entered a school and murdered 16 students, all 5 years old, and their teacher before turning the gun on himself.
2013: Jorge Mario Bergoglio (born Dec. 17 1936) became Pope Francis after he was elected in the papal conclave to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned. He became the first pope from the Western Hemisphere, the first Hispanic pope (Argentina), and the first pope to use the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi