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This Day in History - December 23

December 23

962 – With the leadership of the future Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, the Byzantine troops storm the city of Aleppo, recovering the tunic of John the Baptist during the Byzantine-Arab Wars

1620 – Construction of the first permanent European settlement of Plymouth at New England begins in present-day Massachusetts

1688 – King James II flees to France from William of Orange

1777 – Czar of Russia, Alexander I, is born

1783 – General George Washington resigns as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, retiring to his home in Virginia

1788 – Maryland votes to cede a 100-square-mile area for the District of Columbia

1790 – French founder of Egyptology who deciphered the Rosetta Stone, Jean-Francois Champollion, is born

1795 – English general and politician Henry Clinton dies

1805 – Founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, is born

1823 – The poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” aka “Twas the night before Christmas,” written by Clement C. Moore was published for the first time by the Troy Sentinel of New York

1829 – Prince Paul Wilhelm of Wurttemberg leaves on a second journey to explore the West.  He gathered valuable botanical, geographical and zoological specimens along his travels

1861 – The British minister to America, Lord Lyons, issues a formal complaint to secretary of state William Seward about the Trent Affair

1862 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis declares Union General Benjamin Butler a felon and calls for his execution if captured.  Butler offended Southern women, stole from Confederates and locals and ordered clergy, civil officers, and attorneys to take an oath of allegiance to the US.  Butler was never captured by the Rebels and went on to serve as a US congressman and the governor of Massachusetts

1867 – First female black millionaire, Madame C.J. Walker is born

1888 – Severely depressed, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, cuts off the lower part of his left ear with a razor after threatening artist Paul Gauguin, a friend, with a knife.  Van Gogh then wraps the ear in a cloth and takes it to a prostitute for safe keeping

1900 – The Federal Party is formed in the Philippines

1912 – The Parisian literary review, Nouvelle Revue Francaise, rejects an excerpt from Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, which will influence the development of the modern novel once completed

1913 – President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the Federal Reserve System

1915 – Vera Brittain, a nurse with the British Red Cross who will become a famous author and activist after the war, loses her fiancé Roland Leighton when he dies of wounds sustained in the battle at the Western Front in France

1918 – German politician and 5th Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Schmidt is born

1919 – Great Britain institutes a new constitution for India

1920 – The Government of Ireland Act aka Home Rule Act passes partitioning in Ireland

1921 – President Warren G. Harding frees Socialist Eugene Debs and 23 other political prisoners

1933 – Pope Pius XI condemns the Nazi sterilization program

1933 – Emperor Akihito, Emperor of Japan, is born

1935 – Pro football player and a member of the Hall of Fame, Paul Hornung, is born

1937 – London warns Rome to stop the anti-British propaganda in Palestine

1938 – Computer scientist and engineer who co-developed the Transmission Control Protocol that web browsers use to connect to servers on the World Wide Web, Bob Kahn, is born

1939 – The first Canadian troops arrive in Britain

1940 – Chiang Kai-shek dissolves all communist associations in China

1941 – The US Marines and Navy troops on Wake Island capitulate to a second Japanese invasion

1943 – Wife of King Carl XVI, Queen Silvia of Sweden, is born

1944 – General Dwight Eisenhower confirms the death sentence of Private Eddie Slovik, making him the only American shot for desertion since the Civil War

1944 – Commander of Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War, US Army General, and Supreme Allied Commander Europe in NATO 1997-2000, Wesley Clark, is born

1947 – President Harry Truman grants a pardon to 1,523 who evaded the World War II draft

1947 – American physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley unveil the transistor

1948 – Hideki Tojo, Japan’s Prime Minister, and six collaborators are hanged for war crimes

1950 – General Walton Walker, commander of the Eighth Army in Korea, dies in a jeep accident and Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgeway is named his successor

1952 – American politician and journalist who founded The Weekly Standard, William Kristol is born

1953 – Grand Duchess of Russia, Maria Vladimirovna is born

1953 – Soviet politician Lavrentiy Beria dies

1954 – The first human kidney transplant is performed by Dr. Joseph Murray at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts

1958 – The world’s tallest, self-supported steel tower, the Tokyo Tower, is opened to the public.  The tower stands at 333 meters tall and is used for communication purposes

1959 – Chuck Berry is arrested in St. Louis, Missouri for transporting a 14-year old girl across state lines for “immoral purposes.”  Berry would later be tried and convicted of the crime, sentenced to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.  His conviction was vacated and a new trial ordered for racial comments made by the judge.  He was reconvicted during his second trial and served nearly two years in prison

1963 – American pro football player Jim Harbaugh is born

1964 – American singer and songwriter Eddie Vedder is born

1966 – The Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York and military vicar of the armed forces for Roman Catholics, Francis Cardinal Spellman, visits US servicemen in South Vietnam

1967 – US Navy SEALS are ambushed during an operation southeast of Saigon

1967 – Italian/French singer, songwriter, and model Carla Bruni is born

1968 – The crew of the US intelligence gathering ship Pueblo are released after an eleven-month imprisonment by the government of North Korea, after having been seized on January 23 and charged with intruding into North Korean waters

1972 – A 6.2 magnitude earthquake kills over 10,000 and leaves 250,000 homeless in Managua, Nicaragua

1972 – Rookie running back Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a touchdown off of a deflected pass from quarterback Terry Bradshaw, in a play to be known as the “Immaculate Reception”

1974 – The B-1 bomber makes its first successful test flight

1975 – President Gerald Ford signs the Metric Conversion Act

1982 – The Missouri Dept. of Health along with the Centers for Disease Control inform the residents of Times Beach, Missouri that their town was contaminated by chemical dioxin that had been sprayed on its unpaved roads, and that the town would have to be evacuated and demolished.  Town officials, not having money to pave roads, had paid waste hauler Russell Bliss six cents per gallon to spray its roads with oil that he had received from a chemical manufacturer that turned out to be hexachlorophene mixed with dioxin.  Town children played in the oil and nobody thought about its potential danger until horses and other animals began dying.  Soon people began getting sick and the EPA came to take soil samples.  The EPA announced that the levels of dioxin, which they described as “the most potent cancer-causing agent made by man,” were off the charts.  The agency spent $250 million, including $36 million to buy every house in town except for its owners who refused to sell and incinerated 265,000 tons of soil.  The town was disincorporated in 1985.   After bulldozing and cleaning up, Times Beach reopened as the Route 66 State Park.  The long-term effect on the exposed residents is still unknown

1984 – Bernhard Goetz, who shot four black men on a subway car the previous day, flees from New York City to New Hampshire

1986 – The Voyager completes the first nonstop flight around the globe on one load of fuel and in nine days and four minutes

1990 – In a referendum, almost 90% vote in favor for Slovenia’s independence from Yugoslavia

1994 – Organized crime boss and convicted murderer Whitey Bulger goes into hiding, causing embarrassment to the FBI

2002 – An Iraqi MiG-25 shoots down a US MQ-1 Predator drone

2004 – Indian politician, lawyer, activist and the 9th Prime Minister of India, P.V. Narasimha Rao dies

2007 – Canadian composer and pianist Oscar Peterson dies

2009 – Richard Heene is sentenced to 90 days in jail, community service, and a $36,000 fine to serve as restitution, for a hoax in which he told authorities that his six-year-old son Falcon had floated away in a saucer-shaped helium balloon.  Mayumi Heene received 20 days in jail for her role.  Reporters and helicopters from the Colorado National Guard tracked the floating balloon and when it touched down in a field, it was discovered to be empty.  Fearing the boy had fallen from the balloon, a massive ground search ensued until later that afternoon it was announced the boy had been found safe at home.  During a live interview on CNN, Falcon told his parents, “You guys said we did this for the show,” arousing suspicions that the entire ordeal had been an elaborate hoax.  Mayumi Heene confessed that the incident had been staged to get the family a reality TV show.  The Heenes had previously appeared on “Wife Swap”

2009 – Tibetan politician Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme 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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