Today in History – December 16

1431 – Hundred Years’ War: Henry VI of England was crowned King of France at Notre Dame in Paris.

1497 – Vasco da Gama passed the Great Fish River at the southern tip of Africa, where Bartolomeu Dias had previously turned back to Portugal.

1653 – English Interregnum: The Protectorate: Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

1770 – Composer Ludwig Van Beethoven was born.

1773 – American Revolution: Boston Tea Party: Members of the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians dumped hundreds of crates of tea into Boston harbor as a protest against the Tea Act.

1777 – Virginia became the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation. 

1811 – The first two in a series of four severe earthquakes occurred in the vicinity of New Madrid, Missouri.

1826 – Benjamin W. Edwards rode into Mexican-controlled Nacogdoches, Texas, and declared himself ruler of the Republic of Fredonia.

1863 – American Civil War: Joseph E. Johnston replaced Braxton Bragg as commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Nashville: The Union’s Army of the Cumberland routed and destroyed the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee, thus ending its effectiveness as a combat unit.

1893 – Anton Dvorak attended the first performance and the official world premiere of his New World Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

1907 – The American Great White Fleet, a group of United State Navy battleships, began its circumnavigation of the world.

1907 – Eugenia H. Farrar became the first singer to broadcast on radio. She sang from the USS Dolphin docked at Brooklyn Navy Yard.

1930 – Bank robber Herman Lamm and members of his crew were killed by a 200-strong posse, following a botched bank robbery, in Clinton, Indiana.

1937 – Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe attempted to escape from the American federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay; neither was ever seen again.

1938 – Adolf Hitler instituted the Cross of Honor of the German Mother.

1940 – Bob Crosby and his Bobcats backed up Bing as “San Antonio Rose” was recorded for Decca Records.

1942 – The Holocaust: Schutzstaffel chief Heinrich Himmler ordered that Roma candidates for extermination be deported to Auschwitz.

1944 – World War II: The Battle of the Bulge began with the surprise offensive of three German armies through the Ardennes forest.

1947 – William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain built the first practical point-contact transistor.

1950 – Korean War: In response to China’s Second Phase Offensive, U.S. President Harry S. Truman declared a limited state of emergency.

1960 – A United Airlines Douglas DC-8 and a TWA Lockheed Super Constellation collided over Staten Island, New York and crashed, killing all 128 people aboard both aircraft and six more on the ground.

1965 – Vietnam War: General William Westmoreland sent U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara a request for 243,000 more men by the end of 1966.

1966 – The Jimi Hendrix single “Hey Joe” was released in the U.K.

1967 – The Lemon Pipers released the single “Green Tambourine.”

1971 – Don McLean’s eight-minute-plus version of “American Pie” was released.

1977 – The Saturday Night Fever film opened in the U.S.

1978 – Cleveland, Ohio became the first major American city to default on its financial obligations since the Great Depression.

1979 – Libya joined four other OPEC nations in raising crude oil prices, which had an immediate, dramatic effect on the United States.

1983 – Pete Townshend announced he was leaving The Who. This was effectively the first break up of the band.

1985 – Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti were shot dead on the orders of John Gotti, who assumed leadership of New York’s Gambino crime family.

1989 – U.S. Appeals Court Judge Robert Smith Vance was assassinated by a mail bomb sent by Walter Leroy Moody, Jr.

1993 – MTV aired Nirvana’s New York Unplugged performance.

2004 – The iTunes Music Store reached 200 million songs sold.


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