History: December 23

December 23

0558 Death: Childebert, king of France (511-58), at about 62.

0679 Death: Dagobert II, king of Austria (676-679), murdered.

1548 Birth: Pieter C. Bockenberg, historian; Annales Hollandiae et Zeelandiae.

1588 Henry III of France orders the assassination of Henri III Duc de Guise and his brother Louis, cardinal of Lorraine, at a meeting of the States General at Blois.

1620 French huguenots declare war on King Louis XIII.

1620 Construction begins on the first permanent European settlement in New England, one week after the Mayflower had arrived at Plymouth harbor in present day Massachusetts.

1652 Death: John Cotton, Massachusetts Bay Puritan preacher, at 68.

1672 Giovanni Cassini discovers the satellite Rhea, in orbit around its parent planet, Saturn.

1690 John Flamsteed observes Uranus without realizing that it is undiscovered.

1715 Russian and Prussian troops occupy Stralsund.

1728 Prussian Emperor Karel VI signs the Treaty of Berlin.

1732 Birth: Sir Richard Arkwright, British inventor of the spinning frame.

1776 US Revolutionary War: The Continental Congress finalizes a war loan of $181,500 from France. Note: Without looking it up, so I may be wrong, I believe this is the loan secured by John Adams.

1777 Birth: Aleksandr I. P. Romanov, Tsar of Russia (1801-25).

1779 US Revolutionary War: Benedict Arnold's court-martial for improper conduct begins. It will end Jan 26, 1780. "...Washington appointed Arnold as the Military Governor of that city (Philadelphia) – until an election could take place. Washington, knowing full well that Arnold was what we now call a 'loose-cannon,' wrote out a lengthily letter of instructions on June 19, 1779, limiting Arnold’s duties to mostly policing the city. But Arnold decided to do whatever he wanted. “Within three days after he took command, he entered in secret mercantile partnerships.” (Which he later favored with big contracts.) And, while in that position, he lived extravagantly, married the daughter of a leading Tory, and created a political empire based on fraud, embezzlement and oppression. When General Reed was elected President of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania later that year, he proceeded to have Arnold tried at a court-martial where he was found guilty of several crimes. And Washington himself reprimanded him publicly. During that dramatic trial, Arnold’s true personality was shown publicly. His rage knew no bounds, as he waged an arrogant and defamatory defense. He praised himself for his past military successes, boasted about his wounds in battle and slandered others with no evidence. He grabbed anything that wasn’t nailed down and threw it at his accusers. What followed was a period of deep debt, bankruptcy, public altercations and disgrace. It was during this period that he began dealing with the enemy..."

1783 George Washington returns to Mount Vernon, Virginia, after resigning his commission with the US Army following the Revolutionary War. His long anticipated retirement from the public spotlight will last until he becomes America's first president in 1789.

1788 The fine State of Maryland votes to cede a 10 square mile area for the District of Columbia.

1790 Birth: Jean Francois Champollion, French Egyptologist. In 1822 he will successfully decode the hieroglyphics of the Rosetta Stone; recognized today as the founder of modern Egyptology.

1793 Thomas Jefferson warns of slave revolts in the West Indies.

1795 Birth: Philippe Vandermaelen, Flemish cartographer; Atlas Universel.

1804 Birth: Charles-Augustin de Sainte-Beuve, in France, critic, writer; deax violes esgales.

1805 Birth: Joseph Smith Jr., in Sharon, Vermont; Mormon leader, founding prophet, first elder, president of the church. Will be murdered June 27 1844.

1815 Birth: Henry Highland, in Garnet, Maryland, minister, abolitionist, diplomat.

1823 An anonymous poem appears in the NY newspaper the Troy Sentinel, A Visit from St. Nicholas, later known better as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The poem was written by a professor of Greek and Oriental literature, Clement Clark Moore, and appeared without his permission in the newspaper.

1827 Birth: Wilhelm Freiherr von Tegetthoff, Austrian admiral (Helgoland/Lissa).

1828 Birth: Mathilde Wesendonk, German writer, poet; Tagebuchblatter.

1832 Dutch troops in Antwerp surrender.

1834 Joseph Aloysius Hansom patents his Patent Safety Cab on this day. The 2-wheeled, horse-driven vehicle with the driver seated above and behind the passengers, where he is able to he talk with the them through a trap door, will become known as the hansom cab. Hansom is also a well-known architect. The Englishman designed the Birmingham Town Hall, Plymouth Cathedral and many other churches, convents, schools and mansions. And it is a good thing he has his architectural business to fall back on, as he will never make any money from his invention.

1861 The Danubian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia are formally united as Romania.

1862 Birth: Henri Pirenne, Belgian historian; History of Belgium.

1862 US Civil War: Union General Ben 'Beast' Butler is proclaimed a 'felon, outlaw and common enemy of mankind' by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

1870 Birth: John Marin, painter; 1948 Fine Arts Medal.

1876 Turkey's first constitution is proclaimed.

1886 Birth: Albert Ehrenstein, in Austria, writer; Message from the Madhouse.

1888 Birth: Friedrich Wolf, writer.

1888 In a fit of depression, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh cuts off his left ear while staying at lodgings in Arles, France. What is 'wrong' with his Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear (above), and why?

1896 Birth: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Sicilian writer; Der Leopard.

1899 Boer War: Fieldmarshal Lord Roberts departs Southampton bound for South Africa.

1899 General Leonard Wood, veteran of many a US campaign against Native Americans, replaces General Brooke as military governor of Cuba.

1899 A tentative Turkish and German treaty is arrived at, on the construction of the Baghdad railway.

1907 Klara Hitler is buried next to her husband in the Catholic cemetery at Leonding. "...Eighteen year old Adolf had grand ideas of someday becoming a great artist. Each October, entrance examinations were held at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Despite his misgivings about leaving his mother, Hitler's artistic ambitions drove him to withdraw his inheritance from the bank and move to Vienna to study at the academy. Problems arose for Hitler when he failed the academy's entrance exam and his mother's condition took a big turn for the worse.

He left Vienna, feeling quite depressed, and went back home to his mother and did not tell her he failed the exam. Hitler consulted Dr. Bloch who recommended drastic treatment to save his mother's life. The painful, expensive treatment involved applying dosages of idoform directly onto the ulcerations caused by the cancer. She was moved into the warm kitchen of the Hitler apartment where Adolf kept constant watch and even helped out with household chores such as cooking and washing the floor. The apartment, however, always smelled of idoform. She bore the pain well, but Adolf anguished over every moment of her suffering. Her condition steadily worsened and as the festive Christmas season approached in December 1907, she was near death. In the early hours of December 21, amid the glowing lights of the family's Christmas tree, she died quietly. Adolf was devastated. Dr. Bloch arrived later that day to sign the death certificate. He later said he had never seen anyone so overcome with grief as Adolf Hitler at the loss of his mother. Klara Hitler was buried on a misty, foggy December day in the cemetery at Leonding, next to her husband. The cemetery also contained her son Edward, Adolf's younger brother, who died from measles at age six. The next day, Christmas eve, Hitler and his sisters paid a visit to Dr. Bloch where they settled the medical bill. The doctor gave the family a break on the charges considering the many home visits he had made to his patient. Adolf Hitler expressed profound gratitude to the doctor. "I shall be grateful to you forever," Hitler told him.

Now, with both parents gone, Hitler once again set his sights on Vienna and the art academy..."

1908 Birth: Yousuf Karsh, portrait photographer for Life Magazine. Above: Self-portrait. See also portraits for todays 1933 (Pope), 1940 and 1943 items.

1909 Albert is crowned king of Belgium.

1911 Birth: Niels Jerne, immunologist.

1913 The 'Federal Reserve Act,' establishing 12 Federal Reserve Banks, is signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson.

1918 Birth: Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of West Germany 1974-82.

1919 The first ship designed to be used as an ambulance for the transport of sick and wounded patients is launched: The USS Relief, with 515 beds.

1919 Alice H. Parker patents a gas heating furnace.

1923 Birth: Lucas M. Mangope, 1st President of Bophuthatswana 1977-94.

1923 Birth: James Stockdale, admiral, Vietnam POW, 1992 running mate of presidential candidate Ross Perot.

1923 Weimar: Dietrich Eckart, after a brief imprisonment in Stadelheim prison, dies of heart failure; Hitler is still in prison awaiting trial. Eckart is buried at Berchtesgaden. (Wistrich I)

1925 Sultan Ibn Saud of Nedzjed conquers Djeddah.

1926 Birth: Robert Bly, US poet, editor, translator, author; What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?, Iron John: A Book About Men, Loving a Woman in 2 Worlds.

1926 Birth: James Dewar, journalist, documentary filmmaker.

1930 The Police Bureau of Criminal Alien Investigation begins work in New York City.

1933 Birth: Akihito, Emperor of Japan since 1989, first son of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako.

1933 Marinus van der Lubbe is found guilty and sentenced to death in Germany for setting fire to the Reichstag earlier in the year.

1933 Church and Reich: Pope Pius XI condemns the Nazi sterilization program. (Edelheit)

1935 The Italian air force begins using mustard gas against Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

1938 Holocaust: The Hungarian parliament introduces new racially defined anti-Semitic laws.

1938 Death: Robert Herrick, US writer; Chimes.

1939 Death: Anthony H. G. Fokker, Dutch airplane builder.

1939 WW2: The Finnish counteroffensive at Summa continues to plague the overconfident Soviet invasion force. The poor showing of Stalin's troops in this conflict will lead Hitler, and most of the world, to seriously underestimate the ability of the Red Army.

1939 WW2: The first 7,500 Canadian troops arrive in the United Kingdom.

1940 WW2: Lord Halifax becomes British ambassador to the US Anthony Eden (above) takes over as Foreign Secretary, and David Margesson, Secretary of War (Army Minister).

1941 WW2: The Japanese capture Wake Island. The fall of Wake severs the US communications line between Hawaii and the Philippines. The Japanese rename the place the Island of Birds.

1941 WW2: Japan continues its assault on Rangoon in Burma.

1941 WW2: British troops overrun Benghazi in Libya.

1942 WW2: Corny comedienne Bob Hope agrees to entertain US airmen in Alaska. The first of his many famous Christmas shows for American armed forces around the world, the tradition will continue for more than three decades and as many wars.

1942 WW2: The Allies launch an air attack on Den Helder.

1943 WW2: General Montgomery is advised that he will be appointed commandant for D-day.

1944 Diary of Leon Gladun: Position near the village of Brigishella (Italy). Not a good site as it turns out: bad roads, only two houses and, as everyone warns, the Germans are covering the roads and area with fire. And it turns out that we actually are one of the most shelled areas in the region. Starting at dusk of Christmas Eve we received quite a bit of fire. Continuous shooting through the nigh--torment from medium and heavy caliber artillery. Often the cannons of SP.

1947 John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley invent the transistor; for this reason they will share the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics.

1948 Death: Former Premier Hideki Tojo of Japan, the Japanese soldier and prime minister who was in power when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and six other Japanese war leaders; hanged in Tokyo under sentence of the Allied War Crimes Commission. From Tojo's testimony at his trial: "...At about that time, in order for Japan to sustain its own people, and because of the necessity of maintaining internal production, and in order to prosecute the Sino-Japanese War, we were faced with the necessity of obtaining such things as rice and oil from the southern islands, including French and Dutch Indochina. Particularly at the time when the United States broke off commercial relations with Japan, and the routes that depended on the United States were cut, the survival of Japan was closely connected to whether or not peaceful commerce would be possible with these southern areas. Consequently, Japan despatched ambassadors and conducted negotiations with these areas, but since they already had hostile feelings, nothing could be smoothly established. Furthermore, it had been clearly established by intelligence that French Indochina was an important, hidden supply route for [the Chinese forces headquartered in] Chungking. Consequently, it was necessary to cut this off, as part of the strengthening of our China operations. At the time, given the conditions in Europe, France was a friendly nation with a duty to cooperate with Japan. Therefore, the peaceful occupation of Indochina (September 1940) was carried out with the understanding of France. Thus, given the uncertainties in the southern Pacific, and the necessity of putting a quick end to the Sino-Japanese War and establishing the cooperative relations necessary for the survival of both nations, a portion of our military was gradually transferred to southern French Indochina. However, the British-American side called this a threat to their own territories, and in July 1941, together with Holland, ordered the freezing of assets and, in effect, commenced an economic blockade. This was a grave threat to the existence of Japan. In addition to this, the British-American side concentrated troops in Hawaii, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaya, and reinforced their defenses. In this way, economic pressure was increased just as the circle around Japan was tightened, and conditions arose that severely threatened the existance of Japan..."

1950 Pope Pius XII declares that the tomb of St. Peter had been discovered beneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

1951 The Western European Nation of Belgian finally becomes completely electrified.

1953 Death: Lavrenti P. Beria, master of the Soviet Intelligence community, loses a power struggle among the other survivors of Stalin's paranoid purges, and pays with his life for this uncharacteristic display of ineptitude in the ways of intrigue. The Anti-Beria Faction had mobilized opposition to Beria by making the charge that he enjoys drugging and violating severely underage girls. Note: Nikita Khrushchev will eventually become top gangster, but his rule will never be as secure as that of his steel-willed predecessor. Ironically, his DeStalinization policies, and the real changes the Ukrainian-born Khrushchev will institute in the USSR, will ensure not only that his rule will be as short-lived and insecure as that of a politician in an average democracy, but that he will be able to retire from power with his own life intact at the end of said political career: He will proudly identify this latter achievement as his 'legacy.'  For the old Soviet Union, this is great progress indeed. As far as the rating of Soviet leaders from a western perspective is concerned, Khrushchev ranks only below Gorbachev as the best the failed system produced. The popular current Russian view, however, is a complete juxtaposition: Gorby last, Nikita slightly above.

1960 King Saudi of Saudi-Arabia takes power.

1961 Fidel Castro announces that Cuba will release 1,113 prisoners from the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, for $62 million worth of food and medical supplies.

1967 Lyndon B. Johnson meets Pope Paul VI at the Vatican.

1967 In Brussels, the NATO-Council accepts a "Flexible Response" strategy.

1968 Apollo 8: Borman, Lovell and Anders become the first men to orbit the Moon.

1970 Construction of the New York World Trade Center reaches its highest point of 411 metres.

1972 Death: Andrej N. Tupolev, Russian aircraft builder, at 84.

1972 Around 12,000 people are killed when Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, is destroyed by a massive earthquake.

1973 The Shah of Iran announces that the six main oil producers in the Gulf will increase the export price of their oil by 100 percent from January 1974.

1975 Death: Richard S. Welch, CIA station chief in Athens, liquidated.

1975 The US Congress passes the wishy-washy Metric Conversion Act.

1976 Death: Walter Bauer, writer, at 72.

1983 The Journal Science publishes a report on the nuclear winter concept.

1986 Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager become the first airplane pilots to make a nonstop trip around the world without refueling; breaking their own record of 111 hours set a year and a half earlier. The couple guide their Voyager on the record-setting, but harrowing and uncomfortable, flight to and from Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. In Sum: Nine-day, 216 hours of continuous flying, 25,012-mile global flight without refueling.

1987 Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, serving a life sentence for attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford, escapes from Alderson Prison. Roy Harper interviews Squeaky: "...Roy Harper: Why did you try to escape from prison, and if your escape had suceeded, what did you want to do? Squeaky: I didn't try - I escaped. I headed West to take a female bull off Manson's back; a staff member who had set herself up as a roadblock between us. Our communications were diverted and she wouldn't permit him to call me. I've talked to him twice in 17 years. The calls are monitered. I've seen women in prison call, however, many husbands, boyfriends, or lesbian lovers they have in other prisons. One guy (in the last prison Manson was in) got out, had a sex change operation, married his in-prison lover and got conjugal visits. That was while we weren't allowed to talk. I didn't object to these peoples' relations AND AFTER TWENTY YEARS NO ONE SHOULD OBJECT TO MINE. SO when I got word from three different sets of people who all said Manson had cancer, I knew I couldn't get straight info from his staff and had no choice but to go over the fence for it..."

1990 The people of Slovenia vote overwhelmingly in a plebiscite for the northwestern Yugoslav republic to become an independent state.

1992 The first American casualties of the US-led relief operation in Somalia occur when a vehicle hits a landmine near the city of Badera, killing one civilian and injuring three others.

1993 President Clinton announces that he will instruct his lawyers to give investigators all documents relating to the Whitewater scandal.

1994 In Yugoslavia, UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi clinches a deal and Bosnia's Muslim-led government and rebel Serbs sign a cease-fire agreement to take effect at noon the next day.

1997 US Agriculture Department estimated the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 at $149,820.

1997 Terry Nichols, the second defendant in the Oklahoma City bombing trial, is convicted of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter, but not first-degree murder, by a jury in Denver, Colorado.

2001 Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says he will defy an Israeli travel ban and go to Bethlehem for midnight mass in the Church of the Nativity.

2001 India and Pakistan rush troops to the Kashmir border after four people are killed in gun battles in the Samba sector of Kashmir. India asks the US to declare Pakistan as a "terrorist state." Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Afghan Taliban ambassador to Pakistan applies for asylum in Pakistan, saying "it is dangerous for me to go" to Afghanistan.

2001 The man captured with explosive devices aboard Miami bound Flight 63 is identified as Richard C. Reid, the name on his British passport. French authorities identify the bomb suspect as Tariq Raja from Sri Lanka.

2001 The London Telegraph reports that uranium was found in an al-Qaeda tunnel complex near Kandahar airport, raising fears that Osama bin Laden may have obtained materials for a nuclear "dirty bomb."

2001 Osama bin Laden's mother is quoted in the London Mail as doubting her son's guilt, saying, "I don't believe that he did the terrible deeds they say he did."












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