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This Day in History - December 12

December 12

627 – Byzantine Emperor Heraclius defeats Sassanid forces during the Byzantine-Sassanid Wars during the Battle at Nineveh

1745 – John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is born

1751 – English philosopher and politician, Henry St. John, First Viscount Bolingbroke dies

1753 – George Washington reiterates Britain’s claim to the entire Ohio River Valley, to French forces at Fort Le Boeuf near Lake Erie

1770 – The British soldiers responsible for the “Boston Massacre” are acquitted on murder charges

1787 – Pennsylvania ratifies the Constitution

1805 – American abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, is born

1806 – Confederate General Stand Watie is born

1821 – French novelist Gustave Flaubert is born

1862 – The Union loses its first ship to a torpedo, USS Cairo, in the Yazoo River

1863 – Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch is born

1870 – Joseph Rainey takes his seat as the first black in the US House of Representatives

1881 – Polish-American businessman who co-founded Warner Bros., Harry Warner is born

1889 – English poet, Robert Browning dies

1893 – Actor Edward G. Robinson is born

1897 – Southern writer and civil rights activist, Lillian Smith is born

1901 – Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic radio transmission in St. John’s Newfoundland

1912 – The only fighter to hold three professional titles simultaneously, Henry Jackson Jr., who fought under the name Henry Armstrong, is born

1913 – Leonardo da Vinci’s The Mona Lisa is recovered inside Vincenzo Peruggia’s hotel room in Florence, two years after it was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. Peruggia had worked at the Louvre at the time and had participated in the heist with a group of accomplices. He spent just 14 months in jail for his crime, despite the painting being perhaps the most famous in the entire world

1914 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffers its worst percentage drop since it was published in 1896, a 24.39 loss, on the first day of trading since the New York Stock Exchange reopens after being shut down due to the start of World War I

1915 – Singer and actor, Frank Sinatra is born

1917 – Father Edward J. Flanagan opens Boys Town, in Omaha, Nebraska, which will become a well-known institution for neglected and troubled children

1917 – A train derails in Modane, France, killing more than 500 French soldiers who were returning from fighting in World War I

1923 – American game show host and actor Bob Barker is born

1925 – Last Qajar Shah of Iran is deposed

1927 – Communists seize Canton, China

1927 – Co-inventor of the integrated circuit, Robert Norton Noyce is born

1928 – Abstract painter, Helen Frankenthaler is born

1929 – Playwright and film producer, John Osbourne is born

1929 – Co-founder of one of the most important southwestern cattle drive trails, Charles Goodnight, dies

1930 – The Spanish Civil War begins as rebels take a border town

1930 – The last Allied troops withdraw from the Saar region in Germany

1931 – Under pressure from the Communists in Canton, Chiang Kai-shek resigns as president of the Nanking Government but remains the head of the Nationalist government that holds nominal rule over most of China

1937 – The US gunboat Panay is sunk by Japanese warplanes in Chinese waters during the battle for Nanking in the Sino-Japanese War

1938 – Singer Connie Francis is born

1940 – Singer/ actress, Dionne Warwick is born

1941 – The US Navy takes control of the most luxurious and largest ocean liner on the seas at the time, France’s Normandie

1943 – Singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, Grover Washington, Jr., is born

1943 – The German Army launches Operation Winter Tempest, a relief effort for the Sixth Army trapped in Stalingrad

1943 – The exiled Czech government signs a treaty with the Soviet Union for postwar cooperation

1946 – The UN accepts six Manhattan blocks as a gift from John D. Rockefeller Jr.

1950 – Indian actor, screenwriter, and producer, Rajinikanth is born

1952 – Gymnast and actress, Cathy Rigby is born

1956 – The UN calls for immediate Soviet withdrawal from Hungary

1963 – The John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Memorial Album sets a record for album sales, selling 4 million copies in the first six days of its release

1963 – Kenya becomes a republic

1964 – Three Buddhist leaders begin a hunger strike in protest against the government of Saigon

1965 – The rookie running back Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears scores six touchdowns during a single game against the San Francisco 49ers, tying the NFL record for most touchdowns in a single game

1967 – The US ends the airlift of 6,500 men in Vietnam

1968 – American actress Tallulah Bankhead dies

1969 – The 1,350-man contingent from the Army of the Philippines, The Philippine Civic Action group, departs South Vietnam

1969 – A bomb explodes at the building of the National Agrarian Bank in Milan, Italy, killing 17 and injuring 88

1979 – South Korean Army Major General Chun Doo-hwan orders the arrest of Army Chief of Staff General Jeong Seung-Hwa, under the premise that he was involved in the assassination of ex-President Park Chung Hee

1980 – American oil tycoon Armand Hammer buys a notebook containing writings by Leonardo da Vinci, for over $5 million

1985 – 256 are killed when Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashes after takeoff at Gander, Newfoundland

1985 – American actress, Anne Baxter dies

1987 – US Secretary of State George Shultz calls on America’s NATO allies in Western Europe to increase their defense spending

1989 – Leona Helmsley, “Queen of Mean,” receives a four-year prison sentence, 750 hours of community service and a $7.1 million fine for tax fraud. Helmsley was notoriously greedy and rude, seriously disliked by her employees and famously left $12 million to her dog, Trouble when she died in 2007

1991 – The Russian Federation becomes independent from the USSR

1991 – The Maastricht Treaty is signed, creating a European Community

1995 – Willie Brown becomes the first black mayor of San Francisco

1997 – 14-year old Michael Carneal is indicted as an adult on three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder for the shooting of his classmates at Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky

1998 – The House Judiciary Committee approves a final article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton

1999 – American author and playwright, Joseph Heller dies

2000 – General Motors announces the phasing out of the oldest automotive brand in the US, the Oldsmobile

2000 – The US Supreme Court announces its decision in Bush v Gore, effectively ending legal changes to the results of that year’s Presidential election

2001 – Yasir Arafat closes the offices of Hamas and Islamic Jihad

2007 – American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer, Ike Turner dies

2009 – Anise Parker is elected as the first openly gay mayor of Houston, Texas


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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