History: December 15

December 15


0037 Birth: Nero Claudius Augustus Germanicus, 5th emperor of Rome, (54-68).

1025 Death: Basilius II the Bulgarendoder, Byzantine emperor (976-1025).

1488 Bartholomeus Diaz returns to Portugal after sailing round the Cape of Good Hope.

1515 Death: Alfonso de Albuquerque, viceroy of Portuguese Indies.


1593 The State of Holland grants a patent on a windmill with a crankshaft.


1610 Birth: David Teniers II, Flemish court painter.


1612 Simon Marius becomes the first to observe the Andromeda galaxy through a telescope.


1626 Death: Adriaen de Vries, Dutch sculptor and painter, at about 70.

1629 In England, Baptist minister and founder of Rhode Island, 26 year old Roger Williams, weds Mary Barnard, daughter of a Puritan clergyman. Two years later, he and his wife will sail from Bristol to Massachusetts.

1667 Brandenburg declares himself neutral in the Devolutie War.


1675 Death: John Vermeer, Dutch painter, at 43.

1699 Death: Henrik A van Reede tot Drakenstein, Dutch botanist, at about 63.

1791 The first US law school is established at the University of Pennsylvania.

1791 The Bill of Rights, comprised of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, is ratified this day in Virginia.

1794 War of Austrian Succession: The Prussians under Leopold I of Anhalt-Dessau heavily defeat the Saxons under Rutowski at the battle of Kesseldorf near Dresden.

1794 The Revolutionary Tribunal is abolished in France.

1802 Birth: JŠnos Bolyai, in Romania, mathematician; non-Euclidean geometry.

1806 Napoleonic Wars: French forces under Napoleon enter Warsaw.

1826 Death: William Browser, rebel slave, executed in New York City.


1832 Birth: Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, French engineer, born in Djion. Designer of many notable bridges and viaducts and the Eiffel tower in Paris, France. At 985ft high, it will be the highest building in the world until 1930. It will be erected in 1887-89 on the Champs-de-Mars at a cost of £260,000 for the World Exhibition of 1889. In 1893 he will be condemned to two years' imprisonment and fined for breach of trust in connection with the abortive French Panama Canal scheme.

1836 The Patent Office in Washington DC burns down.

1840 Napoleon's remains are interred in Les Invalides in Paris, having been brought from St Helena.


1848 Birth: Edwin Howland Blashfield, American artist; will decorate the dome of Library of Congress, create some of the most memorable WW1 US propaganda posters, and design the fine piece of currency below.


"Edwin H. Blashfield's Science Presenting Steam And Electricity To Commerce And Manufacture appears on the $2 bills of the 1896 Silver Certificate series. A wise and matronly Science presents her two young charges to the flanking figures of Commerce and Manufacture, who look on with upturned faces. The young Electricity carries a coil of wire wound into an electromagnet; Steam, slightly more mature, holds a lever which controls the gear of an engine. Tall fronds form a central circle for the figures, framing them and setting them off sharply from the white background; the sides of the note are filled out with carved mantels and shields.


Blashfield originally intended this design for the $50 note, but when Will H. Low's original design for the $2 was rejected Bureau Chief Johnson called for this design of Blashfield's to replace it. Blashfield resisted the change. "Please tell Mr. Johnson," he wrote to G.F.C. Smillie on April 18, 1895, "that in addition to my other reasons... I also object distinctly on artistic grounds to the change from fifty to a two. You can easily see that the 50 is an important compositional factor in the building up of my design... It could be changed to a twenty or a ten, without any injury to the balance of the composition but not to any denomination expressed by a single numeral." Blashfield's objection was quite valid, as can be seen. Nonetheless work on the $2 notes proceeded, and though the center of the note is indeed somewhat heavily weighted the note is still considered elegant, dignified and effective."

1852 Birth: Antoine Henri Becquerel; will discover radioactivity with Marie and Pierre Curie and be awarded the Nobel prize for physics in 1903 jointly with the couple.

1859 GR Kirchoff describes the chemical composition of the Sun.

1860 Birth: Niels Ryberg Finsen, in Denmark, physician/phototherapist; Nobel 1903.

1861 Birth: Charles Edgar Duryea, inventor, first automobile built and operated in the US.

1863 Birth: Arthur D. Little, US chemist; will patent rayon.

1864 US Civil War: The Battle of Nashville, Tennessee takes place.


1870 Birth: Josef Hoffmann, Austrian architect.

1874 The first reigning king to visit the United States, King David Kalakaua of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), is received by President Ulysses Grant.


1876 Birth: Ferdinand Hardekopf, writer.

1877 Edison patents the phonograph.

1887 Birth: Pieter C. A. Geyl, historian; will write History of the Dutch Tribe.

1890 Death: 'Sitting Bull' (Tatanka Iyotake), Hunkpapa-Sioux Indian chief, is killed while resisting arrest by Native American police.

1892 Birth: (Jean) J. Paul Getty, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, oil magnate.

1896 Birth: Carl Ferdinand Cori, US bio-chemist.

1896 Birth: George B Cressey, US geographer; Asia's Lands & Peoples.


1896 Birth: Paul R Citroen, Dutch sculptor.

1899 Boer War: The British under General Redvers Buller make a frontal attack in the battle of Colenso aimed at relieving the besieged town of Ladysmith. The action fails as the British lose over 1,100 men.


1900 Birth: Francesco Messina, sculptor.


1907 Birth: Oscar Niemeyer, Brazilian architect; Brasilia.

1914 WW1: Putnik's troops recapture Belgrade and soon drive the Austrian invaders from Serbia. Austrian casualties in this savagely fought campaign are approximately 227,000 out of 450,000 engaged. Serbian losses are approximately 170,000 out of 400,000.

1914 WW1: The Battle of Lodz ends as the Russians retreat toward Moscow.

1914 WW1: The British fleet forfeits the chance to destroy the German fleet in the North Sea.

1914 WW1: Swedish troops overrun Belgrade in Austria-Hungary.

1916 Birth: Maurice Wilkins, in England, physicist, DNA pioneer; Nobel 1962.

1916 WW1: The French defeat the Germans at the Battle of Verdun. There are losses of 364,000 Allied and 338,000 German soldiers during the battle.

1917 WW2: The Moldavian Republic declares its independence from Russia.

1918 The American Jewish Congress holds its first meeting.


1928 Birth: Friedrich Hundertwasser, artist, printer, painter, ecologist.

1930 Volkishness: The National Socialist Minister of the Interior of the government of the Land of Thuringia invites "race-investigator" H. F.K. GŁnther to a chair of social anthropology at the University of Jena, against the wishes of the faculty. Professor Lenz comments: "We are happy about the appointment itself, despite our reservations about the way in which it was made." (Science)

1932 Volkishness: Karl Maria Wiligut, the Austrian occultist, flees his family and emigrates to Munich. He is 66 years old. (Roots)

1933 Holocaust: Austrians are asked by Catholic leaders to do their Christmas shopping in non-Jewish stores.

1937 Holocaust: Polish bishops call for segregation of all Jewish students in Polish elementary schools.

1938 The New York Daily News reprints a scurrilously antisemitic pamphlet by William Dudley Pelley.

1938 Work is begun on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.


1939 Nylon yarn is sold to hosiery mills to make women's stockings; marking the first use of commercial yarn for apparel. The DuPont product enables a record number of ladies' hose to go on sale for the first time in May 1940.

1940 WW2: Prince Michael Sturdza is forced to resign as Romanian Foreign Minister after a conflict with Antonescu.


1940 WW2: The British invade Italian Libya in force.


1941 WW2: The submarine USS Swordfish sinks a Japanese ship.


1941 WW2: Gas and electricity use is restricted in Holland.


1943 WW2: The Allied II Corps renews the drive toward San Pietro and Monte Lungo.

1943 Holocaust: Dec 15-18 Some 5,000 Jews are transported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz, almost all are gassed on arrival. (Atlas)

1944 Hizbu'allah, meaning 'Arm forces for Allah' is formed.

1944 WW2: The US Congress awards General Eisenhower his fifth star.

1944 WW2: US troops land on Mindoro.

1946 Death: Conrad Haebler, historian; Hundert Kalenderinkunabeln, at 89.

1948 Former US State Department official Alger Hiss, is indicted in New York City for perjury.

1951 Death: Eric Drummond, first Secretary-General of the League of Nations (1919-33), at 75.

1954 The Netherlands Antilles become a co-equal part of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

1961 In Israel, Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi SS colonel in World War II, is sentenced to death in Jerusalem for organizing the deportation of Jews to concentration camps.

1961 President John F. Kennedy visits Puerto Rico.

1961 The UN General Assembly votes against a Soviet proposal to admit Communist China as a member.

1964 Canada's parliament adopts a new national flag with a red maple leaf on a white background.


1965 US spacecraft Gemini 6 and Gemini 7 achieve the first space rendezvous, flying side by side for two orbits.


1966 Audouin Dollfus discovers Janus, the tenth satellite of Saturn.

1966 Death: Walt Disney, the animation genius, from acute circulatory collapse one month after having lung surgery. He is 65.

1967 The Silver Bay bridge from Ohio to West Virginia, collapses during the afternoon rush hour. 34 people die.

1970 The unmanned Soviet spacecraft Venera 7 lands on Venus.

1973 The American Psychiatric Association declars that homosexuality is not a mental illness.


1974 Death: Harry Hershfield, cartoonist, at 89.


1976 The Argo Merchant runs aground on Fishing Rip (Nantucket Shoals) southeast of Nantucket Island, in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. It will spill its entire cargo of 7.7 million gallons of No.6 fuel oil when it breaks up on 21 December.

1978 US President Jimmy Carter announces he will establish diplomatic relations with China from January 1, 1979, and break off relations with Taiwan.

1979 Iran Hostage Affair: The deposed Shah of Iran leaves the US for Panama.

1979 Iran Hostage Affair: The World Court in the Hague rules that Iran should release all US hostages.

1983 The remaining 80 US combat soldiers in Grenada withdraw, just over seven weeks after the US-led invasion of the Caribbean island.

1984 The USSR launches Vega 1 for rendezvous with Halley's Comet.

1986 CIA director William Casey suffers a cerebral seizure.

1986 150 people are killed during a race riot in Karachi, Pakistan.

1993 British Prime Minister John Major and Irish premier Reynolds, sign a Downing Street Declaration concerning Northern Ireland self determination.

1993 Lee Aspen resigns as the US Secretary of Defense.

1993 Delegations from 117 countries approve by consensus a GATT trade treaty aimed at opening up international markets.

1994 Liberian militia kill 48 inhabitants of Monrovia.

1995 The UN Security Council authorises NATO to take over peacekeeping operations in Bosnia in a resolution spelling the end of one of the UNs toughest field missions.

1995 Southeast Asian nations sign a treaty banning the possession, manufacture and acquisition of nuclear weapons and create a nuclear arms-free zone from Burma and Vietnam in the north to Indonesia in the south.


1995 European Union leaders christen their planned new single currency the Euro.

1996 Death: Laurens jan van der Post, explorer, conservationist, at 90.

2001 The 12 British plane-spotters held in a Greek jail on spying charges come home to an emotional reunion with their families, vowing to clear their names.

2001 India and Pakistan continue to exchange warnings in the aftermath of the suicide attacks on India's parliament.


2001 Palestinian officials report 13 people are killed in the second straight day of lightning raids by Israeli forces.

2001 Muslims around the world celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and prepare for the start of the Islamic feast of Eid-al-Fitr.


2001 The remaining al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the Tora Bora area are reportedly closer to surrender as U.S. bombs continue to rain on them, and the cornered soldiers are running short of ammunition and supplies.

2001 U.S. officials say that Osama bin Laden was recently heard giving orders on intercepted short-wave radio transmissions near Tora Bora. Alliance commander Haji Zaher declares, "I believe bin Laden is not here."

2001 The anthrax spores mailed to Capitol Hill are traced back to U.S. Army stocks after genetic matches are found at five U.S. laboratories.

2001 The final standing facade of the World Trade Center's Tower One is toppled and removed for storage.  (WTC Tower One facade.)

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