Today In History...
In 1791 The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution -- The Bill of Rights -- went into effect after ratification by Virginia.
In 1836 The patent office burned in Washington, DC.
In 1854 The first mechanical street cleaning machine appeared.
In 1859 G.R. Kirchoff described the chemical composition of the sun.
In 1877 Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.
In 1890 Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 others were killed in Grand River, South Dakota, during a fracas with Indian police working for the U.S. government.
In 1916 The French defeated the Germans in the World War I Battle of Verdun.
In 1922 The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was formed.
In 1938 Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Jefferson Memorial took place in Washington, DC, presided over by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1939 The movie "Gone With The Wind," starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, premieres at Loew's Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1939 Nylon Yarn was commercially manufactured for the first time.
In 1944 The U.S. Senate approved the promotions of Henry H. Arnold, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and George C. Marshall to the five-star rank of General of the Army.
In 1944 American forces invaded Mindoro Island in the Philippines.
In 1948 Former State Department official Alger Hiss was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on perjury charges.
In 1950 A 221-foot Fir, the tallest (cut) Christmas tree, was unveiled in Seattle, Washington.
In 1961 Former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death in Jerusalem, Israel.
In 1964 Canada's House of Commons approved dropping the Canadian "Red Ensign" flag in favor of a new design.
In 1965 Two U.S. human-crewed spacecraft, Gemini VI and Gemini VII, rendezvous in orbit, coming within 10 feet of each other.
In 1966 Movie producer Walt Disney died in Los Angeles.
In 1970 Soviet Venera 7 was the first spacecraft to land on another planet.
In 1978 President Carter announced he would grant diplomatic recognition to Communist China on New Year's Day and sever official relations with Taiwan.
In 1979 The deposed Shah of Iran left the U.S. for Panama the same day the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled Iran should release all American hostages.
In 1982 Paul "Bear" Bryant, one of the winningest coaches in college football, announced his retirement from Alabama.
In 1983 The last 80 U.S. combat soldiers in Grenada withdrew, eight days ahead of the final pullout schedule, just over seven weeks after the U.S.-led invasion of the Caribbean island.
In 1984 Soviet Politburo member Mikhail Gorbachev, reputed to be the #2 man in the Kremlin hierarchy, arrives in Britain for a week-long tour.
In 1985 Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielson wed for a short time.
In 1986 CIA Director William J. Casey was hospitalized after suffering a minor cerebral seizure.
In 1987 Gary Hart, who had dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination amid questions about his relationship with Miami model Donna Rice, makes a surprise return.
In 1988 U.S. Ambassador Robert H. Pelletreau Jr. telephones the PLO's headquarters in Tunisia after President Reagan authorized direct talks.
In 1989 Drug trafficker Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha was killed in northern Colombia following a shootout with police.
In 1989 An uprising that resulted in the downfall of Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu began as demonstrators gathered in Timisoara to prevent the arrest of the Reverend Laszlo Tokes, a dissident clergyman.
In 1991 At least 464 people were left dead or missing when an Egyptian ferry sank in the Red Sea.
In 1991 Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev asked U.S. Secretary of State James Baker for formal U.S. recognition of the various Soviet republics that had declared independence.
In 1992 IBM announced it would eliminate 25,000 more employees in the coming year.
In 1993 U.S. Defense Secretary Les Aspin announced his resignation, citing "personal reasons."
In 1995 French rail workers voted to end a three-week-old strike.
In 1996 Boeing Co. announced its plans to pay $13.3 million to acquire aircraft manufacturer McDonnell Douglas Corp.
In 1997 President Clinton appointed Bill Lann Lee as acting assistant attorney general for civil rights despite Republican objections.
In 1998 President Clinton concluded his 3-day Middle East journey on a disappointing note as Israel refused to resume the West Bank troop withdrawals called for under the Wye River peace accord.
In 2000 The long-troubled Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine was closed for good.
In 2000 Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed to an $8 million book deal with publisher Simon & Schuster for her White House memoirs.
In 2001 The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, reopens to the public after a $27 million realignment project that lasted over a decade.
In 2002 Japan won golf's World Cup for the first time in 45 years.
In 2003 The late Senator Strom Thurmond's family acknowledged Essie Mae Washington-Williams's claim that she was his illegitimate mixed-race daughter.