Today In History...
In 1775 A Continental naval fleet is organized in the rebellious American colonies under the command of Ezek Hopkins.
In 1807 Congress passes the Embargo Act, seeking to force peace between Britain and France by cutting off all trade with Europe.
In 1864 During the Civil War, Union General William T. Sherman sends a message to President Lincoln from Georgia, saying, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah."
In 1882 Ed Johnson switches on the first Christmas Tree with electric lights in his home in New York City.
In 1894 French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggers worldwide charges of anti-Semitism.
In 1919 The U.S. deports 250 alien radicals.
In 1941 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for a wartime conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1944 During the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the Germans demand the surrender of encircled American soldiers at Bastogne, Belgium. U.S. soldiers hold out until other Allied forces arrived 4 days later.
In 1963 An official 30-day mourning period following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy ends.
In 1964 A Lockheed SR-71 spy aircraft reaches a record speed of 3,530 kph.
In 1971 The United Nations General Assembly votes to ratify the election of Kurt Waldheim to be secretary-general.
In 1977 3 dozen people are killed when a 250-foot-high grain elevator at the Continental Grain Company plant in Westego, Louisiana, explodes.
In 1982 The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is closed for two hours due to a severe storm and high winds.
In 1983 PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, driven into exile from Lebannon by Palestinian rebels, stops in Egypt, where he received a warm welcome from President Hosni Mubarak.
In 1984 In a case that draws national attention, New York City resident Bernhard Goetz shoots and wounds 4 teenage boys on a Manhattan subway, after one of them approached him for five dollars.
In 1986 The experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, nears the end of its non-stop, round-the-world flight as it flew along Mexico's Pacific coast toward California.
In 1987 The Reagan administration criticizes Israel's handling of the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories, particularly the military's use of live ammunition against civilians.
In 1988 Brazilian enviromentalist Francisco Mendes Filho is shot and killed.
In 1988 South Africa signs an agreement to end its 73-year control of Namibia.
In 1989 Romania's hard-line president, Nicolae Ceausescu, is toppled from power in a popular uprising.
In 1989 Playwright Samuel Beckett dies in Paris at age 83.
In 1991 21 sailors returning from shore leave to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Saratoga drowned when the Israeli ferry they were traveling on capsized.
In 1991 The body of Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, an American hostage who had been murdered by his captors, is found dumped along a highway in Lebanon.
In 1992 A Libyan Boeing 727 jetliner crashes, killing 157 people.
In 1992 President-elect Clinton chooses Warren Christopher to be his secretary of state and tapped Les Aspin to be defense secretary.
In 1993 Russian President Boris Yeltsin promises not to abandon his free-market policies.
In 1994 North Korea hands over the body of American pilot David Hilemon, killed when his helicopter was shot down over the communist country three days earlier.
In 1994 House Democrats chastise Speaker-to-be Newt Gingrich for accepting a $4.5 million book advance from Rupert Murdoch.
In 1995 Actress Butterfly McQueen, who played the scatterbrained slave Prissy in "Gone With the Wind," dies at age 84.
In 1996 Peruvian guerrillas, holding more than 360 hostages at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, free all but 140 of their captives.
In 1996 Eight workers are killed in an explosion at the Wyman Gordon Forgings metal-fabricating plant in northwest Houston.
In 1997 Gunmen attack an Indian village in southern Mexico, killing 45.
In 1997 Actress Hunter Tylo, whose pregnancy got her fired from TV's "Melrose Place," is awarded $4.9 million for wrongful termination.
In 1998 A third Chinese dissident, Qin Yongmin, is sentenced to prison for trying to organize an opposition party.
In 2000 Defeated Missouri Senator John Ashcroft is chosen as nominee for attorney general in Bush administration.
In 2000 President Clinton grants clemency to 62 people, including former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, convicted of misuse of public funds.
In 2001 Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers.
In 2001 Hamid Karzai is sworn in as prime minister of Afghanistan.
In 2003 A 6.5 earthquake hit California's central coast, killing two people.
In 2017 The first full day of Winter.