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This Day in History - December 29

December 29 

1170 – Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of Henry II, on orders of the king

1607 – John Smith’s life is spared because of the pleas of Pocahontas to her father Indian chief Powhatan

1721 – Madam Jeanne Poisson de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV who will later be blamed for France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War, is born

1778 – British troops capture Savannah, Georgia

1800 – Tire pioneer Charles Goodyear is born

1808 – American Vice President, Andrew Johnson, who will succeed after Lincoln is assassinated in 1865, is born

1809 – British Prime Minister, William E. Gladstone is born

1814 – Emperor Napoleon I’s French forces defeat the Prussian and Russian forces led by Prince Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher in the Battle of Brienne

1835 – The Treaty of New Echota is signed, ceding all the lands of the Cherokee east of the Mississippi River to the US

1845 – Texas becomes the 28th state after agreeing to divide its territory, (389,166 sq. mi.) comprised of present-day Texas, part of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming, into no more than five states “of convenient size”

1849 – Gas lighting is installed in the White House

1851 – The first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is opened in Boston

1862 – Union General William Sherman’s troops attempt to gain the north part of Vicksburg in the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, but are unsuccessful  

1876 – A bridge collapses in Ashtabula, Ohio, causing a train to fall into a gorge beneath and explode, killing 80 passengers

1878 – The first game is played between two teams of the first professional baseball league in Cuba which will later be named the Cuban League.  Habana beat Almendares 21-20

1890 – The last major conflict of the Indian Wars occurs at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, when Colonel James Forsyth and his 7th Cavalry try to disarm Chief Big Foot and his tribe and ultimately kill 146 Sioux Indians

1903 – French Equatorial Africa separates into Gabon, Chad & Ubangi-Shari

1907 – The first black to serve in a president’s cabinet, as Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Robert Weaver is born

1911 – Mongolia declares independence from the Qing Dynasty

1914 – German censorship causes the production of Belgian newspapers to be halted

1915 – The French National Assembly passes a law ceding the land that holds the British war cemeteries to Great Britain

1916 – James Joyce’s book Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is published

1916 – Russian monk Grigori Rasputin dies

1921 – Sears Roebuck president Julius Rosenwald pledges $20 million of his personal fortune to see Sears through hard times

1923 – Senegalese historian, anthropologist, and physicist Cheikh Anta Diop is born

1926 – German and Italy sign an arbitration treaty

1929 – German businessman who founded Maybach, Wilhelm Maybach dies

1934 – Japan denounces the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922

1937 – The Constitution of Ireland goes into effect, changing the name of the Irish Free State under the rule of the British Commonwealth to Ireland

1940 – President Roosevelt proclaims the US to be the “arsenal of democracy” during a radio interview

1940 – London suffers its most devastating air raid when Germans firebomb the city on the evening of December 29 

1947 – Actor Ted Danson is born

1948 – Tito declares that Yugoslavia will follow its own path to Communism

1953 – American gang leader who co-founded the Crips, Stanley Williams, is born

1956 – President Dwight Eisenhower asks Congress for the authority to oppose Soviet aggression in the Middle East

1962 – Saigon announces that 4,077 strategic hamlets have been completed out of a projected 11,182.  The program operated on the basis that South Vietnamese peasants were brought together in fortified hamlets to provide security from Viet Cong attacks.  In reality, the hamlets provided a target for the Viet Cong, and the program would be abandoned in 1963

1965 – A Christmas truce is observed in Vietnam

1966 – The Johnson Administration responds to Harrison Salisbury’s reports, published in the New York Times, describing US bombing destruction in several North Vietnamese cities as “misstatements of fact.”

1972 – English actor, director, and producer Jude Law is born

1981 – President Ronald Reagan curtails Soviet trade in reprisal for its harsh policies on Poland

1985 – The “Railway Rapist” commits his first murder, attacking Alison Day after abducting her from a London train.  Her body was recovered two weeks later, and she had been strangled.  The Railway Rapist used a knife, bound his victim’s hands with string and usually operated near the railroad tracks.  Using forensic evidence, authorities were able to match fibers from the sweater of John Duffy, an ex-railway employee, to fibers found on Day’s body and were able to convict him of the murders of Day and of Maartje Tamboezer in 1987.  Duffy’s accomplice, David Mulcahey, was convicted in 2001 for the murders of Day, Tamboezer and Anne Lock.  In 1999, Duffy confessed to nine additional rapes and several murders

1986 – English politician and Prime Minister of the UK, Harold Macmillan dies

1989 – Actor Christian Slater is arrested for drunk driving after a car chase

1989 – Vaclav Havel is elected president of Czechoslovakia

1996 – Thirty-six years of civil conflict is ended in Guatemala by the signing of the Guatemalan Peace Accords 

1997 – Hong Kong begins slaughtering all of its chickens to prevent bird flu

2009 – Pakistani and English businessman and drug trafficker Akmal Shaikh dies


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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