This Day in History - December 2

December 2

1760 – 5th US Attorney General, John Breckinridge, is born

1777 – According to legend, Philadelphia nurse Lydia Darragh saves the lives of General George Washington and his Continental Army when she overhears the British planning a surprise attack on Washington’s army for the following day. Darragh eavesdropped while they made plans in the room they commandeered in the Darragh’s home, and then she took notes and sewed them into her coat before handing them to American troops stationed outside the city

1793 – In an attempt to escape his debtors, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge enlists in the Light Dragoons, an English cavalry unit

1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Emperor of France in Notre Dame Cathedral by Pope Pius VII

1805 – Napoleon Bonaparte defeats a Russian and Austrian army at Austerlitz

1814 – French politician and author Marquis de Sade dies

1823 – President James Monroe proclaims the principles known as the Monroe Doctrine, “that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by European powers”

1825 – Pedro II, “the Magnanimous,” the last ruler of the Empire of Brazil, is born

1837 – British physician believed to be the prototype of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell, is born

1845 – President James Polk reasserts the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 and calls for an aggressive American expansion in the West during his first annual address to Congress

1859 – French painter and founder and leader of the Pointillism style, Georges Seurat is born

1859 – Militant abolitionist John Brown is hanged on charges of treason, murder, and insurrection in Charles Town, Virginia for his raid on Harper’s Ferry

1863 – One of the seven Ringling brothers of circus fame, Charles Ringling, is born

1863 – General Braxton Bragg hands over command of the Army of Tennessee to General William Hardee

1864 – Confederate General Archibald Gracie Jr. is killed in Petersburg, Virginia by an artillery shell

1864 – Major General Grenville Dodge is named to replace General William Rosecrans as Commander of the Department of Missouri

1867 – Charles Dickens gives his first reading in New York City, and the crowds wait in mile-long lines to hear him

1884 – Actress and writer, Ruth Draper is born

1885 – Greek writer and lawyer, Nikos Kazantzakis is born

1891 – German painter, Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix is born

1896 – Soviet general who captured Berlin during World War II, Georgi Zhukov is born

1906 – Engineer who developed the first commercial color television and the long-playing phonograph record, Peter Carl Goldmark is born

1907 – France and Spain agree to enforce Moroccan measures adopted the previous year

1909 – J.P. Morgan acquires majority holdings in Equitable Life Co.; the largest concentration of bank power to date

1912 – The only boxer to hold three titles simultaneously, Henry Armstrong is born

1914 – Austrian troops occupy Belgrade, Serbia

1917 – A ceasefire is proclaimed throughout the battle zone between Russia and the Central Powers

1918 – Armenia proclaims independence from Turkey

1921 – The first successful helium dirigible, C-7, conducts a test flight in Portsmouth, Virginia

1923 – Greek soprano Maria Callas is born

1925 – American army general and Secretary of State for President Ronald Reagan, Alexander Haig is born

1927 – The new Ford Model A is introduced

1932 – The Allies defend an Axis attack in Tunisia, North Africa

1939 – LaGuardia Airport in New York City opens its doors

1939 – Politician and Senate Majority Leader from 2007-2015, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid is born

1942 – Italian-born physicist Enrico Fermi directs and controls the first nuclear chain reaction. After the experiment was concluded, a coded message was sent to President Roosevelt: “The Italian navigator has landed in the new world,” thus ushering in the nuclear age

1944 – First President of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova is born

1944 – General George S. Patton’s troops enter the Saar Valley, breaking through the Siegfried line

1946 – The US and Great Britain merge their German occupation zones

1948 – Novelist and short story writer T. Coraghessan Boyle is born

1954 – Emmy-winning journalist and co-anchor of Dateline NBC, Stone Phillips is born

1954 – The US Senate votes to condemn Senator Joseph McCarthy with conduct unbecoming of a senator. What is known as “McCarthyism,” began when McCarthy announced during a speech that he had a list of communists who had infiltrated the state department. He was known for throwing out wild, unsubstantiated accusations against innocent people, destroying their reputations without cause or proof

1959 – The Malpasset Dam collapses in France, and the resulting flood kills 412

1961 – Cuban leader Fidel Castro openly declares himself a Marxist-Leninist

1962 – Senator Mike Mansfield becomes the first public official to refuse to make an optimistic public comment on the state of the war when he announces that American aid to South Vietnam was wasted

1963 – Author Ann Patchett is born

1964 – Brazil sends Juan Peron back to Spain, ruining his efforts to return to his native land

1970 – The Environmental Protection Agency is established

1970 – The US Senate votes to give 48,000 acres of New Mexico back to the Taos Indians

1975 – Ohio University running back Archie Griffin wins second consecutive Heisman Trophy, becoming the first player in history to do so

1978 – Canadian singer, songwriter, producer Nelly Furtado is born

1980 – A death squad murders four US nuns and churchwomen in El Salvador

1981 – Singer, songwriter, and actress, Brittany Spears is born

1982 – Dentist Barney Clark receives the first permanent artificial heart

1985 – English poet, Philip Larkin dies

1990 – American composer, Aaron Copland dies

1991 – Opening testimony takes place in the rape trial against William Kennedy Smith, son of the President John F. Kennedy’s sister Jean Kennedy Smith. Smith was accused of raping Patricia Bowman at the family’s Florida compound. Smith acknowledged having sex with the woman, but claimed it was consensual. The jury acquitted Smith of all charges. In 1995, Roy Black, Smith’s lead attorney during the trial, married one of the jurors, Lisa Haller. In 2004 another woman came forward to accuse Smith of raping her when she worked for him at a non-profit center, but the judge dismissed the suit

1993 – NASA launches Space Shuttle Endeavour on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope

1993 – Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar dies

1999 – UK devolves political power in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive, thus convening both a Protestant and Catholic cabinet for the first time

2001 – Enron files Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it is one of the most complex in history. The Enron bankruptcy launched a massive scandal, involving corporate fraud, corruption, and conspiracy to withhold company losses from investors. Company leaders encouraged employees to buy more shares of worthless stock, even as prices plummeted, while selling off their own shares. While many were involved and convicted of their lesser parts, Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s CEO and the man most commonly associated with the cover-up, was sentenced to more than 24 years in federal prison

Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.

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