December 11


630: Muhammad (570-632) led an army of 10,000 to conquer Mecca.

1775: Martha Washington (1731-1802) joined her husband George (1732-1799) in Cambridge, Mass., at the winter headquarters of the Continental Army.

1789: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly.

1816: Indiana became the 19th U.S. state.

1934: Bill Wilson (1895-1971), co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, took his last drink and entered treatment for the last time.

1936: King Edward VIII (1894-1972) of the United Kingdom abdicated the throne so he could marry his already-married American socialite girlfriend, Wallis Simpson (1896-1986). He remains the only British monarch to voluntarily renounce the throne since the Anglo-Saxon period.

1941: Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States following the Americans’ declaration of war on the Empire of Japan in the wake of the Dec. 7 attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States, in turn, declared war on them. Montana’s Jeanette Rankin, a pacifist, was the only member of congress to vote against the declaration of war.

1946: The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was established.

1968: The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus featuring The Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull (band), The Who, Taj Mahal (musician), Marianne Faithfull, The Dirty Mac, Yoko Ono, Sir Robert Fossett’s Circus, and the Nurses, was filmed at the Intertel (V.T.R. Services) Studio, Wycombe Road, Wembley.

1972: Apollo 17 became the sixth and last Apollo mission to land on the Moon.

1980: The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as CERCLA or Superfund, was enacted by Congress. Over twenty years later, CERCLA would become a significant part of Libby, Montana’s history..

2008: Bernard Madoff (born 1938) was arrested and charged with securities fraud in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest ever.


December 12


1787: Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

1862: USS Cairo became the first armored ship sunk by an electrically detonated mine, in the Yazoo River in Mississippi.

1901: Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) received the first transatlantic radio signal, the letter ‘S’ in Morse Code, at Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

1917: Father Edward J. Flanagan (1886-1948) founded Boys Town in Nebraska as a farm village for wayward boys.

1941: The U.S. Marine Corps F4F Wildcats sank the first four major Japanese ships of World War II, near Wake Island.

1950: Paula Ackerman (1893-1989), the first female rabbi in the United States, led a congregation in Meridian, Miss., in her first services.

2000: The U.S. Supreme Court released its 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore, which made George W. Bush the 43rd president.


December 13


1636: The Massachusetts Bay Colony organized three militia regiments to defend the colony against the Pequot Indians. This organization is recognized today as the founding of the National Guard of the United States.

1769: Dartmouth College was founded in Hanover, New Hampshire.

1939: The first Lincoln Continental was produced.

1962: NASA launched Relay 1, the first active repeater communications satellite in orbit.

1967: Born this day: actor Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained); and actress NeNe Leakes (The Real Housewives of Atlanta).

1972: Apollo 17 astronauts and Harrison Schmitt (born 1935) and Eugene Cernan (born 1934) became the 11th and 12th humans respectively, and the last humans to date, to set foot on the Moon.

1975: NBC’s Saturday Night Live was broadcast with a seven-second delay for the first time because producers wanted to bleep out anticipated profanity by guest host Richard Pryor (1940-2005).

1983: Martha Layne Collins (born 1936) was inaugurated as Kentucky’s first female governor.

2003: Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured  at Tikrit, Iraq, by U.S. forces.


December 14


1751: The Theresian Military Academy in Austria was founded as the first military academy in the world.

1782: The Montgolfier brothers’ first hot-air balloon lifted off on its first test flight in Paris.

1799: George Washington died at Mount Vernon, Va., at age 67.

1903: Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first attempt to fly their plane, the Wright Flyer, at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

1911: Roald Amundsen’s team, comprising himself, Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting, became the first people to reach the South Pole.

1972: Astronaut Eugene Cernan became the last human to date to walk on the moon as the Apollo 17 mission prepared to depart the lunar surface.

2008: Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at then U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq.

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.


December 17


1538: Pope Paul III excommunicated Henry VIII of England.

1777: France formally recognized the United States.

1790: The Aztec calendar stone was discovered in Mexico City.

1835: A fire leveled 17 blocks in lower Manhattan.

1865: The first performance of the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert took place in Vienna.

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. 1935: The first flight of the Douglas DC-3 took place over Southern California.

1938: German chemist Otto Hahn discovered the nuclear fission of the heavy element uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear energy.

1943: All Chinese were again permitted to become citizens of the United States when President Franklin Roosevelt repealed the Exclusion Act of 1882 and signed the Magnuson Act.

1947: The first flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber took place over Southern California.

1957: The United States successfully launched the first Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1989: The first episode of television series The Simpsons, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” aired in the United States.

1997: The British Firearms Act came into force, banning all handguns with the exception of antique and show weapons.