Today in History – December 15

1778 – American Revolutionary War: British and French fleets clashed in the Battle of St. Lucia.

1791 – The United States Bill of Rights became law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.

1836 – The U.S. Patent Office building in Washington, D.C., nearly burned to the ground.  The fire destroyed all 9,957 patents issued by the federal government to that date, as well as 7,000 related patent models.

1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Nashville began at Nashville, Tennessee, and ended the following day with the destruction of the Confederate Army of Tennessee as a fighting force by the Union Army of the Cumberland.

1890 – Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull was killed on Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which led to the Wounded Knee Massacre.

1893 – Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World” a.k.a. the “New World Symphony”) by Antonín Dvořák premiered in a public afternoon rehearsal at Carnegie Hall in New York City, followed by a concert premiere on the evening of December 16.

1903 – Italian American food cart vendor Italo Marchiony received a U.S. patent for inventing a machine that makes ice cream cones.

1906 – The London Underground’s Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway opened.

1939 – Gone with the Wind (highest inflation adjusted grossing film) received its premiere at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

1941 – The Holocaust in Ukraine: German troops murdered over 15,000 Jews at Drobytsky Yar, a ravine southeast of the city of Kharkiv.

1944 – World War II: a single-engine UC-64A Norseman aeroplane carrying United States Army Air Forces Major Glenn Miller was lost in a flight over the English Channel.

1955 – Johnny Cash released “Folsom Prison Blues”.  It was the Billboard Song of the Year for 1968.

1959 – Everly Brothers recorded “Let It Be Me”, an English translation of by Gilbert Bécaud’s French song “Je t’appartiens”.  It reached No. 7 on the charts.

1960 – Richard Pavlick was arrested for plotting to assassinate U.S. President-Elect John F. Kennedy.

1961 – Adolf Eichmann, German SS Officer and one of the organizers of the Holocaust, was sentenced to death after being found guilty by an Israeli court of 15 criminal charges, including charges of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership of an outlawed organization.

1965 – Project Gemini: Gemini 6A, crewed by Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford, was launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. Four orbits later, it achieved the first space rendezvous, with Gemini 7.

1967 – The Beatles released “Christmas Time is Here Again”.

1967 – The Silver Bridge collapsed over the Ohio River in the US and killed 46 people.

1969 – Plastic Ono Band played their only concert at London’s Lyceum Ballroom.

1970 – Soviet spacecraft Venera 7 successfully landed on Venus. It was the first successful soft landing on another planet.

1973 – John Paul Getty III, grandson of American billionaire J. Paul Getty, was found alive near Naples, Italy, after being kidnapped by an Italian gang on July 10.

1973 – The American Psychiatric Association voted 13–0 to remove homosexuality from its official list of psychiatric disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

1973 – The Pirates of Caribbean ride opened at Disneyland.

1973 – Sandy Hawley became the first jockey to win 500 races in a single year.

1978 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would recognize the People’s Republic of China and severed diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan).

1979 – Chris Haney and Scott Abbott developed the board game “Trivial Pursuit.”

1988 – Lori Davis of Long Island sued Mike Tyson for grabbing her buttocks.

1993 – Legendary composer and conductor John Williams had his final appearance as conductor of Boston Pops.

2000 – The third reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was shut down.

2001 – The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened after 11 years and $27,000,000 spent to stabilize it, without fixing its famous lean.

2005 – The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor began active service in the  US Air Force.

2010 – A boat carrying 90 asylum seekers crashed into rocks off the coast of Christmas Island, Australia, and killed 48 people.

2014 – Gunman Man Haron Monis took 18 hostages inside a café in Martin Place for 16 hours in Sydney. Monis and two hostages were killed when police raided the café the following morning.


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