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This Day in History - December 20

December 20

69 – Vespian’s supporters find Vitellius hiding out in Rome and drag him through the streets before beheading him.  Vespian challenged Vitellius for emperor of Rome.  Vitellius’ brother and son were murdered as well

1355 – Stephen Urosh IV of Serbia is killed

1522 – Suleiman the Magnificent accepts the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who evacuate, settle in Malta and take the name Knights of Malta

1579 – Playwright and prodigy John Fletcher is baptized

1606 – Virginia Company settlers leave London to establish Jamestown, Virginia

1722 – Emperor of China, Kangxi, dies

1783 – Virginia cedes the Ohio Valley territory to the US government

1790 – Samuel Slater builds the first cotton mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island

1803 – The US buys Louisiana territory from France

1812 – American member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Sacagawea dies

1812 – Wilhelm Grimm’s “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” is published

1836 – President Andrew Jackson presents a treaty to Congress that he had negotiated with the Ioway, Sacs, Sioux, Fox, Otoe and Omaha Indian tribes in the Missouri territory, that removed the tribes from their homelands

1860 – South Carolina secedes from the Union

1861 – English transports loaded with 8,000 troops head for Canada in the event that the “Trent Affair” cannot be ended without war.  During the American Civil War, the US Navy illegally captured two Confederate diplomats from a British ship causing tensions between the two countries

1862 – Confederate General Earl Van Dorn defeats Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s first attempt to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi by attacking Union supplies at Holly Springs, Mississippi

1868 – Industrialist and tire maker Harvey Firestone is born

1881 – President of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey is born

1901 – Physicist Robert J. Van de Graff is born

1904 – Pro baseball player, coach, scout and manager Virgil “Spud” Davis is born

1905 – Australian cricket player Bill O’Reilly is born

1914 – First independent ever elected to US Senate by a majority of the popular vote, Harry F. Byrd Jr. is born

1914 – The First Battle of Champagne begins during World War I, known to be the first major Allied attack against the Germans

1917 – Soviet state security force and forerunner to the KGB, Cheka is formed.  Cheka began under leadership of Felix Dzerzhinsky by decree of Lenin

1921 – Film director George Roy Hill is born

1924 – Adolf Hitler is released from prison after serving barely any of his time for treason

1930 – Thousands of Spaniards sign a revolutionary manifesto

1933 – The German government announces 400,000 citizens are to be sterilized due to hereditary defects

1938 – First electronic television is patented

1941 – The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, begin combat against the Japanese over Kunming.  They will go on to destroy nearly 300 Japanese airplanes

1941 – Adolf Hitler tells General Franz Halder that there will be retreating from the Russian front near Moscow

1943 – Soviet forces halt a German army arriving to relieve besieged Stalingrad

1946 – Viet Minh and French forces fight fiercely in Annamite section of Hanoi

1946 – Television producer Dick Wolf is born

1946 – Israeli psychic Uri Geller is born

1948 – US Supreme Court announces that it hasn’t jurisdiction to hear the appeals of Japanese war criminals sentenced by the International Military Tribunal

1948 – Musician and producer Alan Parsons is born

1957 – Elvis Presley receives his draft notice for the US Army

1960 – National Liberation Front is formed by guerillas fighting the Diem regime in South Vietnam

1962 – The Dominican Republic chooses Juan Bosch Gavino for president in its first free election in 38 years

1963 – Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, eldest daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain and fourth in line of succession to the Spanish throne, is born

1963 – Four thousand people cross the Berlin Wall to visit relatives under a 17-day Christmas accord

1966 – English race car driver Matt Neal is born

1967 – President Lyndon B. Johnson attends a memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt in Melbourne, Australia before visiting Vietnam, Thailand and the Vatican

1968 – Author John Steinbeck dies

1973 – Basque nationalist and separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna aka ETA assassinates Spanish Prime Minister Carrero Blanco

1976 – Welsh game designer Adam Powell is born

1976 – American baseball player Aubrey Huff is born

1976 – American politician and 48th Mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley dies

1983 – Ice hockey players Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt of the Montreal Canadiens score their 500th and 400th career goals, respectively, against the New Jersey Devils at Byrne Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey

1986 – Several black men were chased by a group of white teenagers in Howard Beach, a neighborhood in Queens, New York.  One of the men, Michael Griffith, was chased into traffic where he was killed by a car.  A second, Cedric Sandiford was beaten and the third, Timothy Grimes, outran the attackers to safety.  In the aftermath of the incident, Al Sharpton led a protest through the streets in Howard Beach and was accused of using the case to further his political agenda.  In 1987, the teens were convicted of manslaughter for the death of Griffin.  In 1988, Timothy Grimes was arrested and given a long prison term for shooting his brother.  Cedric Sandiford died of illness in 1991.  In 2005, three more black men were attacked by young, white men carrying baseball bats, but controversy ensued when one reportedly admitted that he had gone to Howard Beach to steal a car

1987 – 4,000 die when a severely overcrowded passenger ferry, the Dona Paz, collides with an oil tanker in the Philippines

1989 – US troops invade Panama to oust General Manuel Noriega and replace him with Guillermo Endara

1995 – NATO begins peacekeeping operations in Bosnia

1996 – Apple Computer and Steve Jobs’ NeXT merge, which will lead to the groundbreaking Mac OS X

1996 – Astronomer and author Carl Sagan dies

1999 – Portuguese transfer sovereignty of Macau over to China

2007 – Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest monarch in the history of the UK


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.


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