This Week in History

December 1


      1834: Slavery was abolished in the Cape Colony (later South Africa).

1862: President Abraham Lincoln delivered his State of the Union Address, in which he reaffirmed the need to end slavery as ordered 10 weeks earlier in the Emancipation Proclamation.

1885: Dr Pepper was first served at a drug store in Waco, Texas.

1913: Ford Motor Co. greatly increased its output of Model Ts by introducing the first moving assembly line.

1944: Born this day: rock musicians Eric Bloom (Blue Öyster Cult), and John Densmore (The Doors); and  Gen. Michael Hagee, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps (2003-2006).
1981: The AIDS virus was officially recognized.

December 2


1763: The first synagogue in what would become the United States opened in Newport, Rhode Island.

1867: British author Charles Dickens (1812-1870) gave his first public reading in the United States, at Tremont Temple in Boston.

1914: Born this day: actor Bill Erwin (Seinfeld; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Home Alone, died 2010).
1927: After 19 years of producing only the Ford Model T, Ford Motor Company unveiled the Ford Model A as its new automobile.

1939: New York City’s La Guardia Airport opened.

1968: Born this day: actresses Lucy Liu (Ally McBeal) and Rena Sofer (General Hospital), and rock musician Nate Mendel (Foo Fighters).

1981: Born this day: singer Britney Spears (“Womanizer,” “Santa Can You Hear Me?”); and Croatian soccer player Danijel Pranjić.

1991: Canada and Poland became the first nations to recognize the independence of Ukraine from the Soviet Union.

2001: Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


December 3


1818: Illinois becomes the 21st U.S. state.

1904: Jupiter’s moon Himalia was discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at  University of California’s Lick Observatory near San Jose, Calif.

1910: Modern neon lighting was first demonstrated by Georges Claude (1870-1960) at the Paris Motor Show. Born this day: actress Daryl Hannah (Splash, Blade Runner, Steel Magnolias); and actress Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Game Change).

1968: Born this day: actors Brendan Fraser (Encino Man, Mummy, George of the Jungle), and Montell Jordan (The Nutty Professor).

1973: Pioneer 10 transmitted the first close-up images of Jupiter.

1980: Born this day: actresses Anna Chlumsky (My Girl), and Jenna Dewan (Witches of East End).

1992: A test engineer for Sema Group in Paris, France, used a personal computer to send the world’s first text message via the Vodafone network to the phone of a colleague.

1999: NASA lost radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander as the spacecraft entered the Red Planet’s thin atmosphere. Engineers speculate that the craft struck the Martian surface at high velocity and was destroyed.

2005: XCOR Aerospace of Mojave, Calif., made the first manned rocket aircraft delivery of U.S. Mail, from Mojave to California City, Calif., both in Kern County.


December 4


1791: The first edition of The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, was published in London.

1881: The first edition of the Los Angeles Times was published.

1909: The Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club, the oldest surviving professional hockey franchise in the world, was founded.

1934: Born this day: actor Victor French (Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven, died 1989); and game show host Wink Martindale (Gambit, Tic-Tac-Dough, Trivial Pursuit).

1948: British rock star Ozzie Osbourne was born in Birmingham, England.

1951: Born this day: rock musician Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd); and actress Patricia Wettig (City Slickers, Thirtysomething).

1954: The first Burger King (renamed from Insta-Burger King) opened in Miami, Fla.

1956: The “Million Dollar Quartet” (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash) recorded an impromptu jam session together at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn., for the first and last time.

1980: English rock band Led Zeppelin officially disbanded following the death of drummer John Bonham, 32, on Sept. 25.


December 5


1492: Christopher Columbus (1450-1506) became the first European in recorded history to set foot on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

1782: Martin Van Buren, eighth president, was born in Kinderhook, N.Y. He was the first U.S. president born in the U.S.A. (Died 1862.)

1848: President James K. Polk (1795-1849) confirmed in a message to Congress that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.
1931: The first wooden money issued as legal tender in the United States was made in Tenino, Wash., after the town’s only bank closed, leaving the town without a ready supply of cash to do business. Denominations of 25 cents, 50 cents and $1 were printed on three-ply Sitka spruce.

1932: The U.S. government wisely granted a visa to German-born Swiss physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955).

December 6


1768: The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published in Scotland.

1865: The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, banning slavery.

1877: The first edition of the Washington Post was published.
1947: The Everglades National Park in Florida was dedicated.

December 7

1732: The Royal Opera House opened in London.

1787: Delaware ratified the U.S. Constitution.
1869: Outlaw Jesse James (1847-1882) committed his first confirmed bank robbery, in Gallatin, Mo.

1963: Instant replay was used for the first time, during an Army-Navy football game.