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This Day in History - December 18

December 18

218 BC – During the Second Punic War in the Battle of the Trebia, Hannibal’s Carthaginian army defeats the Romans

1118 – Afonso the Battler, the Christian King of Aragon captures a Muslim Saragossa, Spain

1271 – The Yuan Dynasty of China begins when Kublai Khan renames his empire “Yuan”

1603 – Admiral Steven van der Hagen leads the first fleet of the Dutch East India Company for the East Indies

1620 – The British ship Mayflower docked at Plymouth, Massachusetts

1737 – Violin maker Antonio Stradivari dies

1777 – The new US celebrates its first national day of thanksgiving, commemorating the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga

1787 – New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the US Constitution

1812 – Napoleon Bonaparte arrives in Paris

1862 – Nathan Bedford Forrest engages and defeats a Federal cavalry force near Lexington as he continues his plight to disrupt supply lines into western Tennessee

1865 – The 13th Amendment is formally adopted into the US Constitution, abolishing slavery

1870 – Writer H.H. Munro is born

1878 – John Kehoe, the last of the Molly Maguires, is executed in Pennsylvania, marking the end to what was officially known as “the Death of Molly-ism.”  The Molly Maguires were a secret Irish society that allegedly had been behind vigilante justice incidents in the eastern Pennsylvania coalfields, which they defended as attempts to protect exploited Irish-American workers.  Franklin B. Gowen, president of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to infiltrate the secret society.  The agency sent James McParlan, who successfully fooled the Molly Maguires, leading several of the members to admit to the murder of Frank W.S. Langdon, a mine foreman-the murder that Kehoe was hanged for despite most people, including the governor of Pennsylvania who signed his death warrant, believed he was innocent of

1878 – Soviet political leader and fourth Premier of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin is born

1879 – Swiss abstract painter Paul Klee is born

1886 – American baseball player and first man to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Ty Cobb is born

1888 – Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law discover the ancient Indian ruins of Mesa Verde while searching for stray cattle in the isolated canyons of southwest Colorado

1892 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” premieres at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre in Russia

1892 – English biologist Richard Owen dies

1912 – Archaeologist Charles Dawson announces the discovery of two skulls that appear to belong to a primitive hominid and ancestor of man which was dubbed the Piltdown Man, a canine tooth, a tool made from elephant’s tusk and fossil teeth from a number of prehistoric animals, after digging in the Piltdown gravel pit in Sussex, England, The remains were estimated to be up to a million years old at the time.  However, in 1953, at an international congress of paleontologists, the Piltdown Man was openly called a fraud.  After a study of the finds, it was determined that the teeth were actually that of a chimpanzee and orangutan and the skulls were no older than 600 years but had been doctored, along with the teeth to appear much older.  While no one came forward to admit to the hoax, in 1996 a trunk was located in storage at the British Museum that held fossils treated in the exact same manner as the Piltdown remains.  The initials on the trunk were M.A.C.H., which suggests that Martin A.C. Hinton, a volunteer at the British Museum in 1912, might have been behind the ruse.

1913 – German political leader, Mayor of Berlin and Chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandt is born

1915 – Nearly 20,000 Australian and New Zealand troops withdraw from Gallipoli, Turkey undetected, during the course of a single night

1915 – President Woodrow Wilson marries Edith Galt in Washington, D.C.

1916 – The Battle of Verdun ends the longest engagement of World War I in which both France and Germany each having suffered more than 330,000 killed and wounded

1925 – Soviet leaders Lev Kamenev and Grigori Zinoviev break with Joseph Stalin

1940 – Operation Barbarossa is issued by Adolf Hitler, planning an invasion of the Soviet Union

1941 – During a three-hour battle, the American-held island of Guam falls to Japanese invaders

1941 – Japan invades Hong Kong

1942 – Benito Mussolini and Pierre Laval meet with Adolf Hitler

1944 – The British repel Japanese forces from northern Burma

1946 – Film director Steven Spielberg is born

1951 – North Korea gives the UN a list of 3,100 POWs

1956 – Japan is admitted into the UN

1957 – The Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania becomes the first civilian nuclear facility to generate electricity in the US

1958 – SCORE or Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment, the world’s first communication satellite, is launched from aboard the Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and once in orbit, relayed the first message sent to Earth from space, a statement from American President Dwight D. Eisenhower

1960 – The US resumes arms shipments to Laos as a rightist government is installed there under Prince Boun Oum

1963 – Actor Brad Pitt is born

1964 – American wrestler, actor, and producer Stone Cold Steve Austin is born

1965 – During Operation Harvest Moon, US Marines attack Viet Cong units in the Que Son Valley

1966 – One of Saturn’s Moons, Epimetheus is discovered

1968 – The musical film “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” opens in New York City

1969 – The British Parliament abolishes the death penalty for murder

1970 – Hundreds of Nevada citizens are forced to flee the military test site of Baneberry when an atomic leak occurs during underground explosion  

1972 – President Richard Nixon declares that the bombing of North Vietnam, aka “Christmas Bombing” and Operation Linebacker II will continue until an accord can be reached

1978 – Actress Katie Holmes is born

1980 – American singer, songwriter, actress and producer Christina Aguilera is born

1980 – Soviet politician Alexei Kosygin dies

1982 – 128 people are killed and hundreds injured when a power plant catches fire in Venezuela

1989 – The European Economic Community and the Soviet Union sign an agreement on trade and economic communication

2000 – George W. Bush received 271 votes in the delayed electoral college balloting

2002 – California Governor Gray Davis announces that the state faces a record budget deficit of $35 billion, double the amount that was reported a month earlier during the state’s gubernatorial campaign

2005 – Civil war breaks out in Chad after a rebel assault on Adre, believed to be backed by neighboring Sudan

2006 – American animator, director, producer and co-founder of Hanna-Barbera, Joseph Barbera dies

2008 – The United Arab Emirates hold its first-ever elections

2008 – American agent of the FBI, Mark Felt dies

2010 – Anti-government protests erupt in Tunisia

2011 – Czech politician, first President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel dies


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the owner of Madison's Media, Madison's CPC and the Chief Administrative Officer for Lanterns. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and has two adult children. Writers seeking additional exposure: Ask how you can contribute!


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