Today in History – December 31

192 – Roman Emperor Commodus survived a poisoning attempt by his mistress only to be strangled in the bath in an assassination plot.

1600 – The British East India Company was chartered.

1759 – Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Quebec: British forces repulsed an attack by Continental Army General Richard Montgomery.

1796 – The incorporation of Baltimore as a city.

1857 – Queen Victoria chose Ottawa, then a small logging town, as the capital of the Province of Canada.

1862 – American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln signed an act that admits West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two.

1878 – Karl Benz, working in Mannheim, Germany, filed for a patent on his first reliable two-stroke gas engine. He was granted the patent in 1879.

1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1907 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration was held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in Manhattan.

1946 – President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

1951 – Cold War: The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $13.3 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Western Europe.

1955 – General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion in a year.

1961 – The Beach Boys played their debut gig under that name.

1963 – Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir played music together for the first time.  They eventually formed the Grateful Dead.

1966 – Monkee’s “I’m a Believer” hit #1 and remained there for 7 weeks.

1967 – Evel Knievel failed in his attempt to jump the Caesar’s Palace Fountain, Las Vegas, and broke his pelvis, femur, wrist, hip and both ankles.

1968 – The first flight of the Tupolev Tu-144, the first civilian supersonic transport in the world.

1970 = Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit to dissolve The Beatles.

1974 – Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac.

1976 – The Cars played their first show.

1977 – Ted Bundy escaped from jail in Colorado.

1980 – Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s “The River Tour” concert at Nassau Coliseum (Uniondale, New York) lasted almost 4 hours.

1983 – The AT&T Bell System was broken up by the United States Government.

1984 – Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car crash.

1991 – All official Soviet Union institutions had ceased operations by this date, five days after the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.

1995 – Cartoonist Bill Watterson ended his “Calvin & Hobbes” comic strip after 10 years.  He believed he had achieved all he could in the medium.

1999 – The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigned from office and left Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor.

1999 – The U.S. government handed control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties.

2000 – The last day of the 20th Century and 2nd Millennium.

2009 – Both a blue moon and a lunar eclipse occurred.

2010 – Tornadoes touched down in midwestern and southern United States, including Washington County, Arkansas; Greater St. Louis, Sunset Hills, Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma, with a few tornadoes in the early hours. A total of 36 tornadoes touched down, resulting in the deaths of nine people and $113 million in damages.

2011 – NASA put the first of two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory satellites in orbit around the Moon.

2019 – The World Health Organization was informed of cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause, detected in Wuhan, China. This later turned out to be COVID-19, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 – The World Health Organization’s issued its first emergency use validation for a COVID-19 vaccine.

To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE