Today in History: December 24

1777 – Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, was discovered by James Cook.

1800 – The Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise failed to kill Napoleon Bonaparte.

1814 – Representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States signed the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812.

1818 – The first performance of “Silent Night” took place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy began that night, wrapping up the following morning.

1865 – Jonathan Shank and Barry Ownby formed The Ku Klux Klan.

1893 – Henry Ford completed his first useful gasoline fuelled engine.

1895 – George Vanderbilt opened Biltmore estate, the largest privately owned house in America at 178,926 square feet, in Asheville, North Carolina.

1901 – Private companies were allowed to use the word “postcard” in the US. Previously, they were labelled “Private Mailing Cards” also known as “souvenir cards”.

1906 – Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast which consisted of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.

1913 – The Italian Hall disaster in Calumet, Michigan resulted in the deaths of 73 Christmas party participants (including 59 children) when someone falsely yelled “fire”.

1914 – World War I: The unofficial “Christmas truce” began.

1929 – A four alarm fire broke out in the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C.

1939 – World War II: Pope Pius XII made a Christmas Eve appeal for peace.

1942 – World War II: French monarchist, Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, assassinated Vichy French Admiral François Darlan in Algiers, Algeria.

1943 – World War II: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was named Supreme Allied Commander for the Invasion of Normandy.

1945 – Five of nine children were missing after their home in Fayetteville, West Virginia, burned down.

1952 – First flight of Britain’s Handley Page Victor strategic bomber.

1964 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong operatives bombed the Brinks Hotel in Saigon, South Vietnam to demonstrate that they could strike an American installation in the heavily guarded capital.

1964 – Flying Tiger Line Flight 282 crashed after takeoff from San Francisco International Airport, killing three.

1964 – Shooting began on “The Cage”, the pilot for Star Trek.

1966 – A Canadair CL-44 chartered by the United States military crashed into a small village in South Vietnam, killing 129.

1968 – Apollo program: The crew of Apollo 8 entered into orbit around the Moon and became the first humans to do so. They performed ten lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures.

1970 – Walt Disney released “Aristocats”.

1973 – District of Columbia Home Rule Act was passed which allowed residents of Washington, D.C. to elect their own local government.

1994 – Air France Flight 8969 was hijacked on the ground at Houari Boumediene Airport, Algiers, Algeria. Over the course of three days, three passengers were killed along with all four terrorists.

1996 – A Learjet 35 crashed into Smarts Mountain near Dorchester, New Hampshire, and killed both pilots on board.

2018 – A helicopter crash killed Martha Érika Alonso, first female Governor of Puebla, Mexico, and her husband Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas, former governor.

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