December 31 in U.S. History Dec 31, 2010 14:31:34 GMT -5
Post by Evon on Dec 31, 2010 14:31:34 GMT -5
HAPPY NEW YEAR
December 31 is the 365th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.
This is the last day of the year..
Days left until elections:
U.S. Debt Clock:www.usdebtclock.org/
1492 About 100,000 Jews are expelled from Sicily.
British and Canadian forces attacking Benedict Arnold's column in the Sault-au-Matelot painting by C. W. Jefferys
1775 American Revolutionary War: Battle of Quebec: British forces repulse an attack by Continental Army General Richard Montgomery.
Richard Henry Lee
1776 Rhode Island establishes wage & price controls to curb inflation. When delegates from the New England states met at Providence, Rhode Island, at the close of 1776, they recommended a series of sweeping controls. At the end of January the Providence Convention's proceedings were laid before Congress with a recommendation for endorsement. In the spirited debate that ensued, radical leaders like Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee defended the measures as "promoting Liberty and happiness." Their opponents, capitalizing on popular objections to a revival of mercantilist controls, charged the New England states with usurping the powers of Congress.
1781 Bank of North America, first US bank opens. On May 17, 1781, Robert Morris proposed the plan for a bank to Congress, which scheme met the approval of that body, and it recommended that the several States should interdict any other banks or bankers from carrying on business within their territory during the war. Congress, Dec. 31, 1781, incorporated the Bank of North America with a capital of two million dollars, most of this being subscribed from abroad through the influence of Morris.
The view from the south gate of Gramercy Park, looking north from Gramercy Park South (East 20th Street), with the statue of Edwin Booth in the center. The Gramercy Park Hotel is visible in the left background. (May 2007)
1831 Gramercy Park is deeded to New York City.
Obed Hussey circa 1850
Hussey's reaping machine, 19th century
1833 A patent was issued to Obed Hussy of Maryland for a "reaper "which embodied the now familiar cutter bar playing between double guard fingers. It was drawn by horses hitched in front, and had a side cut and a platform on which the operator stood who raked off the grain. McCormick's reaper patent was issued 21 Jun 1834. Both were practical, and in greatly improved form were displayed and in competition at the 1851 London World's Fair where the judges awarded the premium to McCormick. However, later that year at another competition it was Hussy's machine that received the award. At the close of that competition, the Prince of Wales ordered two of Hussy's machines.
1861 75.5 feet of rain falls in Cherrapunji Assam in 1861, world record.
Model of USS Monitor
1862 Union ironclad ship "Monitor" sinks off Cape Hatteras NC.
1862 American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two.
General Rosecrans (left) rallies his troops at Stones River. Illustration by Kurz and Allison (1891).
1862 American Civil War: The Battle of Stones River is fought near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Drawing of the Act I finale
The Pirates of Penzance Overture
1879 Gilbert/Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" premieres in New York NY "The Pirates of Penzance" made its triumphant premiere at the Fifth Avenue Theater in New York on New Year's Eve, 1879. However, the partners still needed to secure British copyright. Under the laws of the time, this required an actual "performance". To prevent details of the new opera from becoming widely known, the first performance was given at the tiny Royal Bijou Theatre in the seaside town of Paignton. Originally announced for Monday, December 29, it was postponed by a day because the performing materials - coming from America on the ship Bothnia - had only just arrived, and the Company needed a day to rehearse.
1879 Cornerstone laid for Iolani Palace (only royal palace in US). To enhance the prestige of Hawai`i overseas and to mark her status as a modern nation, the Hawaiian government appropriated funds to build a new palace. The cornerstone for `Iolani Palace was laid on December 31, 1879 with full Masonic rites.
1879 Inventor Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, New Jersey. This was not the first electric light, however, since arc lights were already in use for illumination of large areas, such as department stores and streets lighting. Neither was he the first inventor to experiment with incandescent lamps (which use electricity to heat a thin strip of material, the filament, to glow at a high temperature). However, Edison's lamp was the first to be practical, because he had solved problems with short-lived filaments. After testing many materials, he found a suitable carbonized filament. He also created a good vacuum in the globe, to remove oxygen. His socket mount - the Edison screw base - is still in use.
1896 25th auto built in US
1897 Brooklyn's last day as a city, it incorporates into NYC (1/1/1898). An independent city prior to 1898, Brooklyn developed out of the small Dutch-founded town of "Breuckelen" on the East River shore of Long Island, named after Breukelen in the Netherlands. Were it still a city, and not a borough, it would be the fourth-largest city in the United States after New York City itself, Los Angeles and Chicago.
1904 The first New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in New York, New York.
1907 For the first time a ball drops at Times Square to signal the new year. The New Year's Eve Ball first descended from a flagpole at One Times Square, constructed with iron and wood materials with 100 25-watt bulbs weighing 700 pounds and measuring 5 feet in diameter.
1909 Manhattan Bridge opens.
1917 The temperature at Lewisburg, WV, plunged to 37 degrees below zero to set a state record. (Sandra and TI Richard Sanders - 1987)
1923 First transatlantic radio broadcast of a voice, Pittsburgh-Manchester
1923 Singer Eddie Cantor opened in the lead role of "Kid Boots" Following a football celebration, Tom Sterling is tricked into marrying Carmen Mendoza, a chorus girl; and while awaiting a divorce decree, he unexpectedly inherits $3 million. Tom rescues Kid Boots, a tailor's helper, from the irate clutches of a customer; and The Kid follows him to his apartment, where Carmen tries to prove that her marriage is a success so that she may share the fortune.
1929 Greenland Ranch, in Death Valley, California, went the entire year without measurable precipitation. (The Weather Channel)
1933 A 24 hour rainfall of 7.36 inches set the stage for the worst flood in Los Angeles history. Flooding claimed 44 lives. (David Ludlum)
1935 A patent was issued for the game of Monopoly assigned to Parker Brothers, Inc., by Charles Darrow of Pennsylvania (No. 2,026,082). The patent titled it a "Board Game Apparatus" and described it as "intended primarily to provide a game of barter, thus involving trading and bargaining" in which "much of the interest in the game lies in trading and in striking shrewd bargains." Illustrations included with the patent showed not only the playing board and pieces, but also 22 "Title cards of the respective Real Estate holdings," Utilities, Chance and Community Chest cards, and the scrip money. The play of the game was described that on the throw of the dice, the players may move onto Real Estate locations which they then acquire.
1938 The "drunkometer," the first breath test for car drivers, invented by Dr Rolla N. Harger of Indiana University School of Medicine, was officially introduced in Indianapolis. It was the first successful machine for testing human blood alcohol content by breath analysis. He gave the first "short course" on chemical tests for intoxication (1937). By 1948, Harger and other IU faculty began one-week courses on breath alcohol testing sponsored by the National Safety Council's Committee on Tests for Intoxication. Robert F. Borkenstein, an instructor on those courses later invented the Breathalyzer (1954), a more practical, highly portable instrument for testing breath alcohol. The Drunkometer had required re-calibration when it was moved from place to place.
1941 Snow which began on New Year's Eve became a major blizzard on New Year's Day, burying Des Moines, IA, uunder 19.8 inches of snow in 24 hours, an all-time record for that location. (The Weather Channel)
1944 World War II: Hungary declares war on Nazi Germany.
1946 President Harry Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.
1947 A late afternoon tornado touched down 10 miles north of Shreveport LA, and dissipated south of El Dorado AR. The tornado, as much as 400 yards in width, killed 18 persons. It damaged or destroyed two thirds of the structures at Cotton Valley LA. (The Weather Channel)
1951 Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than $12 billion. The Marshall Plan, known officially following its enactment as the European Recovery Program (ERP), was the primary plan of the United States for rebuilding the allied countries of Europe and repelling communism after World War II. The initiative was named for United States Secretary of State George Marshall and was largely the creation of State Department officials.
1951 The first battery to convert radioactive energy to electrical was announced. Invented by Philip Edwin Ohmart of Cincinnati, Ohio, it consisted of two electrochemically dissimilar electrodes separated by a filling gas that was ionized by exposure to the nuclear energy to produce electrical current. Ohmart obtained an emf efficiency of .01% on a cell using magnesium dioxide and lead-dioxide with argon as the gas and Ag110 as the radioactive source.
1951 The "Wild Bill Hickok" TV series premieres on radio. First heard on Mutual Network sponsored by Kellogg, and then by other advertisers, "Wild Bill Hickok" was a solid cowboy hero of the kids. He and his sidekick "Jingles," played to the hilt by Andy Devine, rode through the west looking for adventure and getting it. Remember their horses? Wild Bill rode "Buckshot," and Jingles rode "Joker." Guy Madison played Marshal Wild Bill Hickok on radio and TV, with Andy Devine as Jingles. Hollywood actors did the bad guys and townsfolk. Charlie Lion did the announcing, and was "Panhandle Jim" for the Corn Pops commercials.
1953 Willie Shoemaker shatters record, riding 485 winners in a year. Racing people frequently refer to Shoemaker's "soft hands," hands that took the reins of a horse and made "Shoe" the boss. Those hands guided 8,833 winners, a world record that would stand until broken by Laffit Pincay Jr. in 1999. In 1953, Shoemaker set the record for most winners (485) in a year -- a mark that held up for 20 years.
1955 The General Motors Corporation becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion USD in a year.
1958 International Geophysical Year ends. From July 1957 to December 1958 an international cooperative scientific program was conducted to study the earth and its environment. This program was the International Geophysical Year. More than 70 countries participated in the project which led to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts around planets, the theory of plate tectonics, exploration of outer space, construction of earth satellites, and increased research in the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. IGY was sponsored by the International Council of Scientific Unions and involved nearly 30,000 scientists.
1958 Willie Shoemaker first jockey to win national riding championship 4X
1958 Cuban dictator Batista flees. When Castro and his forces swept down from the mountains, Batista's army surrendered or deserted. Cuban soldiers knew that Batista could not survive. In December, the dictator began flying his family out of the country. Some arrived in Jacksonville, Florida and were cursed at the airport. Batista left Cuba on December 31, 1958.
1960 "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" by Elvis Presley topped the charts. The soundtrack album for "GI Blues" enters the Billboard album chart and soon goes to number one. It remains number one for ten weeks and stays on the chart for 111 weeks. It would be the most successful album of Elvis's entire career on the Billboard charts.
1960 The Pendletones become The Beach Boys. After being known as The Pendletones, Kenny and the Cadets, and Carl and the Passions, a new group emerged this day: The Beach Boys. The early inspirations of the group were the Wilsons' musician father, Murry, and the close vocal harmonies of groups such as The Four Freshmen. The group performed initially as The Pendletones, after the Pendleton woolen shirts popular then. Although surfing motifs were very prominent in their early songs, Dennis was the sole actual surfer in the group. He suggested to his brothers that they do some songs celebrating his hobby and the lifestyle which had developed around it in Southern California.
1961 Green Bay Packers shutout New York Giants 37-0 in NFL championship game.
1961 Beach Boys play their debut gig under that name. But as each of the newly-named "Beach Boys" earned only about $200 from that moment of fame, in early '62 (even though the group had made their live performing debut on December 31, 1961 at a Ritchie Valens memorial concert), the record business probably felt more like a hobby than a job. After all, Carl and Dennis were still in high school, Al and Brian were in college and Mike was 20 and working a full-time job.
1962 American Basketball League announces suspension of operation. The American Basketball League played one full season, 1961-1962, and part of 1962-1963. The league actually folded on December 31, 1962. The ABL was the first basketball league to have a three point shot for baskets scored far away from the goal. The league was formed when basketball mogul Abe Saperstein did not get the Los Angeles NBA franchise he felt he had been promised in return for his years of supporting the NBA with doubleheader games featuring his Harlem Globetrotters.
1962 Perhaps the worst blizzard in the history of the state of Maine finally came to an end. The storm produced 40 inches in 24 hours at Orono, and a total of 46 inches at Ripogenus Dam. Gale force winds produced snow drifts twenty feet high around Bangor. A disastrous icestorm was over Georgia and South Carolina. It ravaged the two states for days causing more than seven million dollars damage. (David Ludlum) (The Weather Channel)
1962 "Match Game" debuts on NBC with host Gene Rayburn "The Match Game" premiered December 31, 1962 continuing through September 26, 1969 on NBC. This series had two three-person teams, each with one celebrity and two civilian contestants, attempting to match answers to simple audience-survey or fill-in-the-blank questions.
1962 Ohio ends suit against Reds when they agree to stay in Cincinnati for 10 years
1963 A snowstorm struck the Deep South. Meridian, MS, received 15 inches of snow, 10.5 inches blanketed Bay St Louis MS, and 4.5 inches fell at New Orleans LA. Freezing temperatures then prevailed for New Year's Day. (David Ludlum)
1963 Dear Abby show premieres on CBS radio (runs 11 years)
1963 Jerry Garcia & Bob Weir played music together for the first time. On New Year's Eve, 1963, 16-year-old Weir and another underage friend were wandering the back alleys of Palo Alto, looking for a club that would admit them, when they heard banjo music. They followed the music to its source, "Dana Morgan's Music Store," where a young Jerry Garcia, oblivious to the date, was waiting on his students to arrive. Weir and Garcia spent the night playing music together and then decided to form a band. The band they formed was Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, which became the Warlocks, and then the Grateful Dead.
The Prairie Ave facade of The Forum in 2014
1967 First NBA game at Great Western Forum, Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 147-118
1967 Packers win "The Ice Bowl" Playing in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero, the Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys, 21-17. The game, played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin was called the Ice Bowl. During the game, the whistles of the referees actually froze to their lips, which was no problem until the referees tried to remove those whistles (ouch!). It turned out to be the coldest championship game ever.
1970 Congress authorizes the Eisenhower dollar coin. With the death of our 34th president Dwight David Eisenhower, legislation was introduced into Congress calling for a dollar coin depicting his likeness. Up to that time, the last circulating dollar that had been produced was the Peace dollar minted from 1921 through in 1935. Both the obverse and the reverse of the coin were designed by Frank Gasparro. The Eisenhower dollar began circulating in 1971.
1972 Leap second day; also in 1973-79, 1987, 1998. The Earth is rotating slower and slower over time, while the atomic clocks are not slowing down. On one average day the difference is around 0.002 seconds, which means around 1 second in 500 days. In order to synchronize the atomic clocks with the Earth's observed rotation, the atomic clocks are occasionally instructed to add an extra second -- the leap second. Leap seconds are inserted so that the difference between the UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) and UT1 (mean solar time - observed Earth rotation) is kept below 0.9 seconds.
1974 Gold legal in US, Franklin Mint strikes Panamá's Gold 100 balboa coin From 1933 to 1974 it was illegal for U.S. citizens to own gold in the form of gold bullion, without a special license. On January 1, 1975, these restrictions were lifted and gold can now be freely held in the U. S. without any licensing or restrictions of any kind.
1974 Free agent pitcher Catfish Hunter signs with Yankees. Jim "Catfish" Hunter, the Hall of Fame hurler who helped the Oakland A's and the New York Yankees win six pennants in the 1970's, pitched a perfect game and was part of an economic revolution in sports as the first big-money free agent, signing a $3.75 million 5 year contract with the Yankees.
Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back Again
1974 Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks join Fleetwood Mac. By the mid-'70s, Fleetwood Mac had relocated to California, where they added the soft rock duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to their lineup. Obsessed with the meticulously arranged pop of the Beach Boys and the Beatles, Buckingham helped the band become one of the most popular groups of the late '70s.
1974 Popular Electronics displays Altair 8800 computer The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics Magazine is probably the most important publication in the history of the Microcomputer. The Altair 8800 was the first commercially successful microcomputer. In the Editorial of this issue the Altair is announced as a "Home computer".
1978 Taiwan's final day of diplomatic relations with the US. In December 1978 the U.S. Government accepted the three principles proposed by the Chinese Government for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, namely, the United States should sever "diplomatic relations" and abrogate the "mutual defense treaty" with the Taiwan authorities and withdraw U.S. military forces from Taiwan. On 1 January 1979 China and the United States formally established diplomatic relations.
The Magic Show: Style
1978 "Magic Show" closes at Cort Theater NYC after 1859 performances'
1978 CIA director, Admiral Stansfield Turner retires from the Navy In February 1977 President Jimmy Carter nominated Admiral Turner to be Director of Central Intelligence. In this capacity, he headed both the Intelligence Community and the Central Intelligence Agency. He was responsible for developing new procedures for closer oversight of the Intelligence Community by the Congress and the White House, he led the Intelligence Community in adapting to a new era of real time photographic satellites, and he instituted major management reform at the CIA.
1980 New York Islanders greatest shutout margin (9-0) vs Chicago Black Hawks
1981 CNN Headline News debuts
1983 The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government.
1987 Torrential rains caused extensive flash flooding over eastern sections of the island of Ohau in Hawaii, resulting in many rock and mud slides. Rainfall totals ranged up to 22.89 inches in a 24 hour period, and property damage was estimated at 35 million dollars. Strong winds continued to usher arctic cold into the north central U.S. The temperature at Alexandria MN remained below zero through the day, and Jamestown ND reported a wind chill reading of 58 degrees below zero. Gales lashed the Great Lakes, with wind gusts to 54 mph reported at Lansing MI. (Storm Data) (The National Weather Summary)
1988 Warm and wet weather prevailed in the southeastern U.S. Six cities in Florida reported record high temperatures for the date. Thunderstorms produced locally heavy rains from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Southern Atlantic Coast. (The National Weather Summary)
An image taken during the game.
1989 Fog Bowl: Heavy fog rolls in on Bears 20-12 victory over Eagles
1989 Jockey Kent Desormeaux sets record with 598 wins in a year
1989 The year and decade ended on a soggy note in the eastern U.S. Thunderstorm rains pushed precipitation totals for the year to 88.32 inches at Baton Rouge, and to 75.37 inches at Huntsville AL, establishing all-time records for those two locations. Dry weather continued in California. Sacramento and San Francisco finished the month without any rain or snow, and Santa Maria reported their driest year of record with just 3.30 inches of precipitation. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
1990 The Sci-Fi Channel on cable TV begins transmitting
1991 All official Soviet Union institutions have ceased operations by this date and the Soviet Union is officially dissolved.
1992 Czechoslovakia is peacefully dissolved in what is dubbed by media as the Velvet Divorce, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
1993 Barbra Streisand does her first live public concert in 20 years
1993 The last research samples of the smallpox virus were scheduled to be destroyed. Smallpox was the world's most dreaded plagues until 1977, when it was declared eradicated. However, some scientists who wanted to continue research on the virus stopped the destruction plan. The remaining frozen samples are in Moscow, Russia, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, U.S., ready to make vaccine should it ever again be necessary. The virus is extremely stable and has not changed in hundreds or even thousands of years. Smallpox (variola) is caused by a poxvirus and was spread from person to person by contact with skin lesions or via the respiratory tract. Its name comes from the pockmarks on the skin that it caused.
1993 The IDS Tower had a 51st floor observation deck until 1983. Thousands of people came for one last visit on December 31, 1993. This floor is now office space. The 50th Floor contained an east-facing "Orion Room" restaurant (which was two stories tall utilizing both the 50th and 51st floors), a north-facing bar and cocktail lounge, a private south-facing dining club ("Tower Club"), all which were converted to office space. Today the west-facing "Windows on Minnesota" (originally the "University of Minnesota Alumni Club") closed to the public in 1994 and currently serves as banquet space for the Marquette Hotel, which is part of the IDS Center. IDS ◾51st floor observation deck opens November 22, 1972.
1994 First snowless December in Baltimore MD.
1995 Cartoonist Bill Watterson ends his "Calvin & Hobbes" comic strip. Written and drawn by Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes debuted in 1985 and featured the adventures of Calvin, a hyperactive, overly imaginative, bratty six-year-old, and his best friend, the stuffed tiger Hobbes. Other regularly appearing characters included Calvin's stressed out parents; Susie Derkins, the neighborhood girl; Miss Wormwood, the much put-upon school teacher; Mo, the school bully; and Rosalyn, the only baby-sitter willing to watch Calvin.
1997 Microsoft purchases Hotmail In an attempt to nudge its Microsoft Network into a more competetive position (vs. America Online), Microsoft announced the purchase of Hotmail, the free Web-based e-mail service.
Taliban militia in front of the hijacked plane.
1999 Five hijackers, who had been holding 155 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane, leave the plane with two Islamic clerics that they had demanded be freed.
Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos shake hands moments after the signing of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties.
1999 Control of Panamá Canal reverts to Panamá (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone). This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties.
2004 The official opening of Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at that time in the world, standing at a height of 509 metres (1,670 ft).
Blue moon of the December 2009 lunar eclipse
2009 Both a blue moon and a lunar eclipse occur.
2010 Tornadoes touch down in midwestern and southern United States, including Washington County, Arkansas; Greater St. Louis, Sunset Hills, Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma, with a few tornadoes in the early hours. A total 36 tornadoes touched down, resulting in the deaths of nine people and $113 million in damages.
2011 NASA succeeds in putting the first of two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory satellites in orbit around the Moon.
2014 A New Year's Eve celebration stampede in Shanghai kills at least 36 people and injures 49 others.
1758 Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis KG (d 1805), styled Viscount Brome between 1753 and 1762 and known as The Earl Cornwallis between 1762 and 1792, was a British Army officer and colonial administrator. In the United States and United Kingdom he is best remembered as one of the leading British generals in the American War of Independence. His 1781 surrender to a combined American-French force at the Siege of Yorktown ended significant hostilities in North America. He also served as civil and military governor in Ireland and India; in both places he enacted significant changes, including the Act of Union in Ireland and the Permanent Settlement in India.
1851 George Gordon Meade (d 1872) career United States Army officer and civil engineer involved in coastal construction, including several lighthouses. He fought with distinction in the Seminole War and Mexican-American War. During the American Civil War he served as a Union general, rising from command of a brigade to the Army of the Potomac. He is best known for defeating Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
1825 Francis Trowbridge Sherman (d 1905) Union general during the American Civil War. He served in the cavalry and infantry, seeing action in both the Western Theater and Eastern Theater.
1864 Robert Grant Aitken (d 1951) American astronomer. He worked at Lick Observatory in California. He systematically studied double stars, measuring their positions and calculating their orbits around one another. He methodically created a very large catalog of such stars, which was published in 1932 and entitled New General Catalogue of Double Stars Within 120o of the North Pole, with the orbit information enabling astronomers to calculate stellar mass statistics for a large number of stars.
1870 Thomas Anthony Connolly (d 1961) English-American umpire in Major League Baseball. He officiated in the National League from 1898 to 1900, followed by 31 years of service in the American League from 1901 to 1931. In over half a century as an AL umpire and supervisor, he established the high standards for which the circuit's arbiters became known, and solidified the reputation for integrity of umpires in the major leagues.
1880 George Catlett Marshall (d 1959) American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense. Once noted as the "organizer of victory" by Winston Churchill for his leadership of the Allied victory in World War II, Marshall served as the United States Army Chief of Staff during the war and as the chief military adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As Secretary of State, his name was given to the Marshall Plan, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953
1882 Benjamin Allyn Jones (d 1961) thoroughbred horse trainer. Jones was hired by Warren Wright, Sr. to train for his Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky and to take charge of its breeding operation. Under Ben Jones, Calumet became one of the greatest stables in thoroughbred racing history. He is the only trainer to win the Kentucky Derby six times, including victories by two U.S. Triple Crown winners, Whirlaway and Citation.
1900 Selma Hortense Burke (d August 29, 1995) American sculptor and a member of the Harlem Renaissance movement. Burke is best known for her bas relief of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C. Her other work includes a bust of Duke Ellington, portraits of Mary McLeod Bethune and Booker T. Washington, and sculptures of John Brown (abolitionist) and President Calvin Coolidge
1914 Pat Brady (d 1972) best known as cowboy Roy Rogers' "comical sidekick." Pat's full name was Robert Ellsworth Patrick Aloysious O'Brady and this was shortened to "Bob Brady," although it is not known when the "O'" was dropped from "O'Brady."
1920 Rex Elvie Allen (d 1999) American film actor, singer and songwriter who is particularly known as the narrator in many Disney nature and Western film productions. For contributions to the recording industry, Rex Allen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1924 Victoria "Vicki" Manalo Draves (d 2010) Olympic diver who won gold medals for the United States in both platform and springboard diving in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London
1943 John Denver [Henry John Deutschendorf Jr] (d 1997) American singer-songwriter, actor, activist, and poet. One of the most popular acoustic artists of the 1970s, Denver recorded and released around 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed. He was named Poet Laureate of Colorado in 1977. Songs such as "Leaving on a Jet Plane", "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Rocky Mountain High", "Sunshine on My Shoulders", "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", "Annie's Song" and "Calypso" attained worldwide popularity.
1956 Martin Joseph Fettman (B.S., D.V.M., M.S., Ph.D., Diplomate, ACVP) former NASA Payload Specialist who flew on STS-58 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia
1961 Richard Warren Aguilera former Major League Baseball pitcher. During a 16-year baseball career, he pitched from 1985-2000 for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs. He graduated from West Covina High School and was drafted from there.
1775 Richard Montgomery (b 1738) Irish-born soldier who first served in the British Army. He later became a brigadier-general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and he is most famous for leading the failed 1775 invasion of Canada.
1846 James Cochran (b 1763) American inventor of the manufacture of cut nails. Cut nails are triangular in shape, made from cutting across bar stock at a slight angle. While Cochran was a brass-founder in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin frequently visited his shop. Cochran also claimed to have made the first copper cents in the U.S. After settling in Genesee County, NY., in 1802, as one of the county’s first pioneers, he set up a bell foundry business on Bank Street (thence referred to as “Dingle Alley” after Cochran’s constant bell testing). He also cast brass newels for staircases and window springs with rollers.
1862 James Edward Rains (b 1833) lawyer and general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro).
1862 Joshua Woodrow Sill (b 1831), career officer in the United States Army and brigadier general during the American Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Stones River in Tennessee. Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was later named in his honor.
1913 Seth Carlo Chandler, Jr. (b 1846) American astronomer best known for his discovery (1884-85) of the Chandler Wobble, a complex movement in the Earth's axis of rotation (now refered to as polar motion) that causes latitude to vary with a period of 14 months. His interests were much wider than this single subject, however, and he made substantial contributions to such diverse areas of astronomy as cataloging and monitoring variable stars, the independent discovery of the nova T Coronae, improving the estimate of the constant of aberration, and computing the orbital parameters of minor planets and comets. His publications totaled more than 200.
1934 Cornelia Maria Clapp (b 1849) American zoologist and educator whose influence as a teacher was great and enduring in a period when the world of science was just opening to women. She became a professor of zoology at Mt. Holyoke College, where she developed a vivid laboratory method of instruction that proved highly effective. Clapp was active in the research group at the then newly established (1888) Marine Biology Lab at Woods Hole, Mass. She carried on research there, primarily in the field of embryology. She published little during her career, her major influence being to extend scientific knowledge and opportunity to women through education.
MLB Now looks at the legacy of Roberto Clemente
1972 Roberto Clemente, future Hall of Fame baseball player, is killed along with four others when the cargo plane in which he is traveling crashes off the coast of Puerto Rico. Clemente was on his way to deliver relief supplies to Nicaragua following a devastating earthquake there a week earlier.
At the end of September, Clemente had gotten his 3,000th hit in the final game of the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a hero in his native Puerto Rico, where he spent much of the off-season doing charity work. Some of his charitable work had taken him to Nicaragua, so Clemente was particularly distressed when he learned that very little aid was getting to victims of a devastating December 23 earthquake near Managua.
Clemente decided to collect supplies on his own and personally deliver them. The plan went awry when Clemente chose for the mission a plane owned by Arthur Rivera. Rivera had bought an old DC-7 propeller plane to go along with a DC-3 he operated to haul cargo in the Caribbean. Apparently, the plane was in such bad shape that others wondered why Rivera had bothered to purchase it. In fact, the DC-7 had to be ferried from Miami to Puerto Rico.
Rivera painted the exterior but did not do any significant work to the engine. This came as no surprise to safety crews at the airports out of which Rivera worked: He had been repeatedly cited for safety violations in previous years. On December 2, Rivera took the DC-7 out to test the engine but forgot to close the hydraulic pump and ended up putting the plane into a drainage ditch. This bent two of the propeller blades and damaged the landing gear. Only some of these damages were fixed prior to the December 31 flight.
On the previous day, Clemente was at San Juan International Airport's cargo area helping to load relief supplies when he discovered there were far more than could be carried in the plane he had available. Rivera approached Clemente and offered to fly the supplies to Nicaragua for $4,000, not telling Clemente he had no crew for the plane. Clemente agreed and Rivera scrambled to find a pilot. He located Jerry Hill, who had a checkered record, and began to load the plane. It was later determined that Rivera loaded the plane over its maximum capacity. In fact, Clemente himself was warned by someone at the airport that the plane looked dangerously overloaded when he was about to board.
The plane took off at 9 p.m. and the sounds of engine failure were heard as it went down the runway. It reached an altitude of only 200 feet before exploding and plunging into the ocean. Rescue workers were sent out immediately, but the task was next to impossible in the darkness. The bodies were never found. The news hit Puerto Rico hard--one friend of Clemente described it as the "night that happiness died."
A subsequent investigation into the crash revealed that the plane never should have been put in the air and that the pilot had erred by over-boosting the engines.
In 1973, Clemente was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
1985 Eric Hilliard Nelson (b 1940), better known as Ricky Nelson or Rick Nelson, was an American singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and actor. He placed fifty-three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1957 and 1973, including nineteen top-ten hits, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 21, 1987. Nelson began his entertainment career in 1949 playing himself in the radio sitcom series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and, in 1952, appeared in his first feature film, Here Come the Nelsons. In 1957, he recorded his first single, debuted as a singer on the television version of the sitcom, and recorded a number one album, Ricky. In 1958, Nelson recorded his first number one single, "Poor Little Fool", and, in 1959, received a Golden Globe Most Promising Male Newcomer nomination after starring in the western film, Rio Bravo. A few films followed, and, when the television series was cancelled in 1966, Nelson made occasional appearances as a guest star on various television programs.
1990 George Herbert Allen (b 1918) American football coach in the National Football League and the United States Football League. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
1990 Elsie Allen (22 September 1899 – 31 December 1990) Native American Pomo basket weaver from the Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California in Northern California, significant as for historically categorizing and teaching Californian Indian basket patterns and techniques and sustaining traditional Pomo basketry as an art form.
1993 Thomas John Watson, Jr. (b 1914) president of IBM from 1952 to 1971 and the eldest son of Thomas J. Watson, IBM's first president. He led the company into a period where it dominated the new computer industry. Among many honors, he was called "the greatest capitalist in history" and one of "100 most influential people of the 20th century".
1993 Brandon Teena, American murder victim (b. 1972)
1994 Woodrow Wilson Woolwine "Woody" Strode (b 1914) was a decathlete and football star who went on to become a pioneering African-American film actor. He was nominated for a Golden Globe award for best supporting actor for his role in Spartacus in 1960. He served in the US Army during World War II.
1997 Floyd Cramer pianist (Nashville Sound), dies of cancer at 64. He was known for his "slip note" piano style, where an out-of-key note slides into the correct note
1997 Michael Kennedy son of Robert Kennedy, dies in ski accident at 39
1997 Billie Dove, American actress (b. 1903)
1999 Elliot Richardson, American lawyer and politician, 69th United States Attorney General (b. 1920)
2000 Kenneth Lee Pike (b 1912) U.S. linguist and anthropologist known for his studies of the aboriginal languages of Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, New Guinea, Java, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia, Nepal, and the Philippines. He was also the originator of tagmemics which extends to the analysis of grammar and behavior the concepts used in phonology so as to view all elements as part of a system. He distinguished between the concept of emic and etic, terms he coined in 1954. Etic refers to a trained observer's perception of the uninterpreted "raw" data. Emic refers to how that data is interpreted by an "insider" to the system.
2000 Alan Cranston, American journalist and politician (b. 1914)
2000 José Greco, Italian-American dancer and choreographer (b. 1918)
2000 Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane, American-Israeli rabbi and scholar (b. 1966)
2001 Eileen Heckart, American actress (b. 1919)
2002 Kevin MacMichael, American guitarist, songwriter, and producer (Cutting Crew) (b. 1951)
2003 Arthur R. von Hippel German-American physicist and author (b. 1898)
2005 Enrico Di Giuseppe, American tenor (b. 1932)
2006 Seymour Martin Lipset, American sociologist, author, and academic (b. 1922)
2006 George Sisler, Jr., American businessman (b. 1917)
2007 Roy Amara, American scientific researcher (b. 1925)
2007 Michael Goldberg, American painter and educator (b. 1924)
2007 Bill Idelson, American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1919)
2007 Kathryn Ish, American actress (b. 1936)
2008 Donald E. Westlake, American author and screenwriter (b. 1933)
2008 Barry Nelson, American actor (b. 1918)
2013 James Avery, American actor (b. 1945)
2013 Bob Grant, American radio host (b. 1929)
2013 Al Porcino, American musician (b. 1925)
2014 Edward Herrmann, American actor and singer (b. 1943)
2014 Norm Phelps, American author and activist (b. 1939)
2014 S. Arthur Spiegel, American captain, lawyer, and judge (b. 1920)
2015 Wayne Rogers, American actor, investor, film producer, television producer, screenwriter
2015 Natalie Cole, American singer, songwriter, and performer
Holidays and observances
Christian feast day:
Pope Sylvester I (Catholic Church)
December 31 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
Apodosis of the Nativity of Christ.
Holy Ten Virgin-martyrs of Nicomedia (c. 286 - 305)
Martyr Olympiodora, by fire.
Martyr Busiris, martyred by women with knitting needles.
Martyr Nemi (Nemo), by the sword.
Hieromartyr Zoticus the Priest, of Constantinople, Guardian of Orphans (c. 340) (see also December 30 - Slavonic)
Saint Anysius, Bishop of Thessaloniki (c. 407) (see also December 30 - Greek)
Venerable Melania the Younger, Nun of Rome (439)
Venerable Gelasius, Monk (Abba), of Palestine.
Saint George the Wonderworker, "the stabbed".
Venerable Sabiana, Abbess of Samtskhe (11th century)
Pre-Schism Western Saints
Saint Columba of Sens (273)
Martyrs of Catania: Stephen, Pontian, Attalus, Fabian, Cornelius, Sextus, Flos, Quintian, Minervinus and Simplician, early martyrs in Catania in Sicily.
Martyrs Donata, Paulina, Rustica, Nominanda, Serotina, Hilaria and Companions.
Hieromartyrs Sabinian and Potentian (c. 303)
Saint Silvester I, Pope of Rome (335)
Saint Barbatian, Priest and Confessor, at Ravenna (5th century)
Saint Peter of Subiaco (1003)
Post-Schism Orthodox Saints
Blessed Theophylactus of Ohrid, Archbishop of Ochrid (c. 1126)
Venerable Cyriacus of Bisericani monastery, Romania (1660)
Venerable Cyriacus of Tazlu, Romania (1660)
New Martyrs and Confessors
New Hieromartyr Michael, Priest (1937)
Martyr Peter (1938)
New Hiero-Confessor Dositheus (Vasich), Metropolitan of Zagreb (1945)
Repose of Blessed Metropolitan Peter (Mogila) of Kiev, Defender of the Orthodox faithful against subjugation to the Roman Papacy ('Unia') (1646) (see also January 1, Ukrainian feast day)
New Year's Eve (International observance), and its related observances:
First Night (United States)
The seventh of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Western Christianity)
The sixth day of Kwanzaa (United States)