This Week in History

December 15

  1791: The U.S. Bill of Rights became law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.

  1918: President Woodrow Wilson arrived in Paris to begin talks about forming the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations.

1933: The 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution officially became effective, repealing the 18th Amendment that prohibited the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol.

1939: Gone with the Wind premiered at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.

December 16

1707: The last recorded eruption of Mount Fuji in Japan occurred.

1773: Members of the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded a British ship in Boston Harbor and threw overboard the ship’s cargo of tea, to protest the “tea tax.” The event became known as the Boston Tea Party.

1811: The first two in a series of four severe earthquakes occurred in the vicinity of New Madrid, Mo. These four so-called mega-quakes are believed to be an ongoing cataclysmic danger that could affect eight of today’s heartland states of the United States.

1937: Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe escaped from the American federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. Neither was ever seen again and were presumed to have drowned.

1978: Cleveland, Ohio became the first post-Depression era city to default on its loans, owing $14,000,000 to local banks.

2004: NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is the 1st to cross the termination shock, where solar and interstellar winds merge.

December 17

1790: The Aztec calendar stone was discovered in Mexico City.
1835: A fire leveled 17 blocks in lower Manhattan.
1892: The first issue of Vogue magazine was published.
1896: The first artificially manufactured ice skating rink in North America, Schenley Park Casino in Pittsburgh, Pa., was destroyed in a fire.
1903: Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright flew their first airplane over the beach at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
1938: German chemist Otto Hahn discovered the nuclear fission of the heavy element uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear energy.
1989: The first episode of television series The Simpsons, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” aired in the United States.
2017: French sailor François Gabart sets round-the-world record for fastest solo navigation of the globe in 42 days 16 hours.

December 18

1788: New Jersey ratified the U.S. Constitution.
1936: Su-Lin, 1st giant panda to come to US from China, arrives in San Francisco.

1949: National Football League Championship, Philadelphia Eagles beat Los Angeles Rams, 14-0; played in driving rain that caused field to become a mud pit.

1956: Phil Rizzuto signs as NY Yankee radio-TV announcer.

1957: World’s 1st full scale nuclear power plant for only peacetime use begins to generate electricity, at the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania.

1961: Britain’s EMI Records originally rejects the Beatles.

1963: Muskegon, Michigan gets 3′ of snow.
1966: Saturn’s moon Epimetheus is discovered by Richard L. Walker.
1971: 1st Candlelight Processional at the EPCOT Center, Disney World.

December 19

1843: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens first went on sale.

1972: The last manned lunar flight, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans and Harrison Schmitt, returned to Earth.

1998: The U.S. House of Representatives forwarded articles I and III of impeachment against President Bill Clinton to the Senate.

2001: A record high barometric pressure of 1085.6 hPa (32.06 inHg) was recorded at Tosontsengel, Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia.
2010: “Miracle at the New Meadowlands”, Philadelphia Eagles trail New York Giants by 21 points with eight minutes to play, before scoring 4 touchdowns in final 7 minutes, including dramatic walk-off punt returned for a touchdown by DeSean Jackson.
2012: UBS bank is fined $1.5 billion for its role in manipulating the Libor rate.
2014: The Guardian newspaper calls 2014 ‘The year the people stood up’
2018: First use of a drone to deliver vaccines – to island of Erromango, Vanuatu, by Unicef.

2018: Drones flying over Gatwick airport, England, causes delays and cancellations for 800 flights and 110,000 people.
2019: Australian state of New South Wales announces 7-day state of emergency amid extreme heat and over 100 bushfires that have burnt for two months.
2019: Earliest fossilized trees, 386 million years old, found at a quarry in Cairo, New York, study published in “Current Biology”.

December 20

1892: Alexander Brown and George Stillman of Syracuse, New York, received the first patent on an inflatable automobile tire.

1957: American rock and roll star Elvis Presley received notice that he would be drafted into the U.S. Army.
1979: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Behn Wilson scores with 4:08 remaining in regulation to earn a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins and equal NHL record for longest undefeated streak of 28 games; go on to break record and extend to 35 games.

December 21

1959: 10th largest snowfall in NYC history (13.7″).

1996: Apollo 8: 1st manned Moon voyage launched with Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders.

1970: Oregon v. Mitchell Supreme Court case was decided, lowering the minimum voting age in U.S. federal elections to 18. The voting age for state and local elections was left to states discretion.

1975: “Hello, Dolly” closes at Minskoff Theater NYC after 51 performances.