History: December 12

December 12

1719 The Aurora Borealis is first recorded.

1731 Birth: Dr. Erasmus Darwin, physiologist and poet, and grandfather of Charles Darwin.

1745 Birth: John Jay, first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. "John Jay showed promise of an extraordinary life at a very young age indeed. He attended an exclusive boarding school in New Rochelle, New York at age eight, and proceeded to King's College (now Columbia University) at age fourteen. He graduated with highest honors in 1764 and proceeded to the study of law under Benjamin Kissam. He was admitted to the Bar of New York in 1768. In early 1774 he was one of the most prominent members of the New York Committee of Correspondence. In September of that year he attended the First Continental Congress as the second youngest member•*, at age twenty eight. His authorship of the Address to the People of Great Britain, published by the first Continental Congress perhaps belied his resolute opinion for reconciliation with Gr. Britain. He retired from the Congress in 1776 rather than sign the Declaration of Independence. He became deeply involved in the development of a new state government for New York. In 1777 he attended the New York constitutional convention, and was selected to draft that constitution. He then served a the first Chief Justice of the state. He also served as a member of the state Council of Safety, acting as the sole council when the Legislature was not in session. He was again elected to the Continental Congress in 1778 and was voted president of that body upon arrival. In 1779 Jay was appointed Minister to Spain in order to seek recognition of Colonial Independence, financial aid, and commercial treaties. In 1782 Jay, along with Adams, Franklin, and Laurens signed the treaty of peace with Great Britain. When he returned to Congress, he had already been appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs. In 1787 Jay authored three of the articles now collectively called The Federalist, in which he, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton argued effectively in support of the ratification of the new Federal Constitution. In 1789, Washington appointed him Chief Justice to the Supreme Court under the new federal constitution. In 1794 he was appointed an envoy extraordinary to Great Britain, in order to seek a resolution to continuing conflicts on the western border, and in commercial relations. The result of this was the Jay Treaty, which proved very unpopular with the public, but was nonetheless approved of by the Washington administration. Upon his return home Jay found that, in his absence, he had been elected Governor of New York. Fellow Federalist Alexander Hamilton had secured his election in an effort to strengthen the party in New York. Jay withstood a great deal of party maneuvering and political trickery, earning respect form his friends and enemies alike. He was a very popular Governor who fought for many political reforms including judicial reform, penal reform and the abolition of slavery. He undertook extensive road and canal projects to improve the economy of his state. He retired from public life in 1801. President John Adams tried to appoint him to the Supreme Court again that year, but owing to the illness of his wife, Jay declined the office. Jay died on May 17, 1829 having survived his wife and both of his partners in The Federalist."

1787 Pennsylvania becomes the second United State.

1804 Spain declares war on Britain.

1805 Birth: William Lloyd Garrison, poet, journalist, editor, abolitionist.

1806 Birth: Stand Watie, Cherokee Indian Chief.

1821 Birth: Gustave Flaubert, French novelist, author.

1850 The novel, Wide, Wide World by Elizabeth Wetherell (Susan Warner), is published. The book is called a bestseller by many folks; the first bestseller in America. There will be 14 editions printed during the first two years of publication. (Bradley)

1863 Birth: Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter famous for The Scream (above).

1875 Birth: Karl Rudolf von Rundstedt; will be Germany's most experiened general at the start of WW2; later promoted to field marshal. Rundstedt will lead his army successfully in the Polish and French campaigns of 1939-1940. But Hitler will interfere so such during his invasion of Russia in 1941 that he will give up his command and take over the German army of occupation in France. Hitler will retire him from command in July 1944, but call him back to direct "The Battle of the Bulge."

1882 The Bijou Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts, becomes the first theatre to be lighted by electricity.

1882 Birth: Max Born, a pioneer of modern physics and one of Hitler's gifts to the west. This brilliant scientist will receive the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1954 for his ground-breaking work in quantum mechanics. Unlike his close friend Albert Einstein, Born will return to Germany and die there on January 5, 1970.

1897 The comic strip, "The Katzenjammer Kids," debutes in US newspapers. The German comic strip, which title translates roughly to "yowling cats," is the first to use bubbles over the characters' heads for placing dialogue. (Bradley)

1899 Boer War: General Methuen had fought many battles in his efforts to relieve Kimberley, which ends this day with his defeat at Magersfontein. The defeat ends early attempts at relief and no further progress is attempted until Lord Roberts arrived in South Africa with more troops. (Bradley)

1900 Charles M. Schwab forms the United States Steel Corporation; bringing together John Pierpont Morgan and Andrew Carnegie to create what will sometimes be one of the richest and most powerful companies in the world.

1911 King George V of Britain holds a coronation durbar in Delhi, where the Indian capital is to be moved from Calcutta.

1913 The painting Mona Lisa is recovered in Florence, in a Florence hotel bedroom, after having been stolen from the Louvre two years earlier.

1915 The first all-metal plane, the German Junkers J1, flies for the first time. Built by German Hugo Junkers, it is known as the Tin Donkey.

1924 Birth: Edward 'Ed' Koch, politician, New York City Mayor, judge.

1928 The House of Lords in Britian approves a bill to make driving tests compulsory.

1928 Birth: Helen Frankenthaler, abstract expressionist, in New York.

1930 Weimar: Allied troops evacuate the Saar region of Germany.

1936 Resistance: Jehovah's Witnesses throughout Germany secretly distribute 200,000 copies of the Lucerne Resolution, a protest of Nazi atrocities, in one hour. (Smith)

1936 Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek declares war on Japan.

1937 Japanese planes bomb and sink the US gunboat Panay in the Yangtze River north of Nanking, China. Japan later claims it was all a mistake and agrees to pay reparations.

1937 Communists receive 98% of the vote in the first elections to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

1939 WW2: Two years forced labor is made mandatory by the Germans for all male, Polish Jews between the ages of 14 and 60. Labor camps are soon set up throughout the General Government and in the Warthegau (Wartheland). (Atlas)

1941 WW2: All branches of American banks in France are ordered closed by the Nazis, except Morgan et Cie and Chase of New York.

1941 WW2: Romania's Antonescu, pressured by Germany and Italy, declares war on the U.S.

1941 WW2: Finland refuses to declare war on the U.S.

1942 Stalingrad: Von Manstein unleashes 'Winter Storm'. The attack is carried out by Group Hoth (General Hermann Hoth, above). Initially progress is good, but fierce resistance by 5th Shock Army buys time for Russian troops from the Stalingrad area to be deployed in defensive positions along the River Myshkova. (Messenger)

1942 WW2: The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) is formed in Polesie.

1942 Holocaust: The Germans deport 757 Dutch Jews to Auschwitz. (Atlas)

1943 WW2: The U.S. 36th Infantry Division attacks Monte Lungo.

1955 The United States closes its consulate in Hanoi following the end of the Indochina war and the partition of Vietnam.

1955 The hovercraft, or air cushioned vehicle, is patented by British engineer, Sir Christopher Cockerell.

1955 The largest philanthropic act in the world to this time is announced by the Ford Foundation which gives $500,000,000 to private hospitals, colleges and medical schools.

1963 Kenya becomes an independent state within the Commonwealth with Jomo Kenyatta as prime minister; it will become a republic on the same day the following year with Kenyatta as president.

1967 The Nam: The United States ends the airlift of 6,500 men in Vietnam.

1969 Greece withdraws from the Council of Europe shortly before it was to have been expelled because of its military regime.

1975 Sara Jane Moore declares she had willfully tried to kill President Ford as she is sentenced to life in prison.

1980 Oil tycoon Armand Hammer purchases a notebook of writings by Leonardo da Vinci for $5.28 million at auction in London; the highest price ever paid for a manuscript. It is 36 pages long and dates back to 1508.

1988 Three paintings by Vincent van Gogh - Dried Sunflowers, Weaver's Interior, and a sketched version of his renowned Potato Eaters - are stolen from the Kroller-Muller National Museum in Otterlo, The Netherlands. The museum houses one of the world's largest collections of van Gogh's work. No estimated value of the stolen paintings is announced. (Bradley)

1989 Five Central American presidents, including Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, call for an end to the rebel offensive against El Salvador's US-backed government.

1991 The Russian parliament ratifies a commonwealth treaty linking the three strongest Soviet republics in the nation's most profound change since the 1917 revolution.

1991 North and South Korea conclude an historic agreement to reunify peacefully after 46 years of division and animosity.

1993 Eduardo Frei wins Chile's presidential elections, the first since military rule ended in 1990.

1994 Brazil's Supreme Court acquits former President Fernando Collor de Mello of corruption charges that had forced his resignation in 1992.

1997 Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the international terrorist known as 'Carlos the Jackal', goes on trial in Paris on charges of killing two French investigators and a Lebanese national.

1998 President Clinton begins a trip to the Middle East that includes a visit to the new Gaza International Airport in Palestinian territory.

2001 American warplanes continue to blast al-Qaeda holdouts near Tora Bora as reports from news correspondents hint that Osama bin Laden has escaped from Afghanistan. American and Afghan officials express concern that key al-Qaeda leaders may have escaped into the tribal areas of northern Pakistan. The Christian Science Monitor reports that bin Laden might have fled to Pakistan 10 days ago with the help of local tribesmen.

2001 U.S. government officials decide to delay the release of an incriminating bin Laden videotape to ensure accuracy in the translation "before anything is released to the world."

2001 All four crew members are rescued from the Indian Ocean after a U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber malfunctions and crashes.

2001 U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley sign a 30-point "smart border" action plan in Ottawa.

2001 Palestinian gunmen ambush a bus outside the Jewish settlement of Emmanuel, killing ten passengers. Soon after the attack Israel cuts contact with Yasser Arafat and the Israeli government indicates their military will commence widespread operations to disarm militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Shortly after the attacks Arafat issues a late-night order that all offices and institutions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad be closed.











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