Today in History


Today is Tuesday, Dec. 20, the 354th day of 2022. There are 11 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 20, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was completed as ownership of the territory was formally transferred from France to the United States.

On this date:

In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union as all 169 delegates to a special convention in Charleston voted in favor of separation.

In 1864, Confederate forces evacuated Savannah, Georgia, as Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman nearly completed his “March to the Sea.”

In 1945, the Office of Price Administration announced the end of tire rationing, effective Jan. 1, 1946.

In 1963, the Berlin Wall was opened for the first time to West Berliners, who were allowed one-day visits to relatives in the Eastern sector for the holidays.

In 1987, more than 4,300 people were killed when the Dona Paz (DOHN’-yuh pahz), a Philippine passenger ship, collided with the tanker Vector off Mindoro island.

In 1989, the United States launched Operation Just Cause, sending troops into Panama to topple the government of Gen. Manuel Noriega.

In 1995, an American Airlines Boeing 757 en route to Cali, Colombia, slammed into a mountain, killing all but four of the 163 people aboard. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, NATO began its peacekeeping mission, taking over from the United Nations.

In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded heterosexual couples.

In 2001, the U.N. Security Council authorized a multinational force for Afghanistan.

In 2002, Trent Lott resigned as Senate Republican leader two weeks after igniting a political firestorm with racially charged remarks.

In 2005, a federal judge ruled that “intelligent design” could not be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, delivering a stinging attack on the Dover Area School Board.

In 2016, President Barack Obama designated the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was injured in her playing hand by a knife-wielding attacker at her Czech Republic home and underwent surgery. (The attacker was sentenced to 11 years in prison.)

Ten years ago: The State Department acknowledged major weaknesses in security and errors in judgment exposed in a scathing independent report on the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. The National Hockey League, in a labor fight with its players, announced the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through Jan. 14, 2013.

Five years ago: The House gave final congressional approval to a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, the biggest package of tax changes in a generation and the first major legislative achievement of President Donald Trump and House and Senate Republicans; some Republicans warned of a potential backlash against an overhaul that offered corporations and wealthy taxpayers the biggest benefits. Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former archbishop of Boston, died in Rome at the age of 86; his failure to stop child molesters in the priesthood had triggered a crisis in American Catholicism.

One year ago: In a major step to fight climate change, the Biden administration raised vehicle mileage standards to significantly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases. Warning that extremism in the ranks was increasing, Pentagon officials issued detailed new rules prohibiting service members from actively engaging in extremist activities. Federal health officials said the omicron variant had accounted for an estimated 73% of new U.S. coronavirus infections in the preceding week. CBS and Universal Television said actor Chris Noth would no longer be part of the CBS series “The Equalizer” in the wake of sexual assault allegations against him; Noth had vehemently denied the allegations.

Today’s Birthdays: Original Mouseketeer Tommy Cole (TV: “The Mickey Mouse Club”) is 81. R&B singer-musician Walter “Wolfman” Washington is 79. Rock musician-music producer Bobby Colomby is 78. Rock musician Peter Criss is 77. Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is 76. Psychic/illusionist Uri Geller is 76. Producer Dick Wolf (“Law & Order”) is 76. Rock musician Alan Parsons is 74. Actor Jenny Agutter is 70. Actor Michael Badalucco is 68. Actor Blanche Baker is 66. Rock singer Billy Bragg is 65. Rock singer-musician Mike Watt (The Secondmen, Minutemen, fIREHOSE) is 65. Actor Joel Gretsch is 59. Country singer Kris Tyler is 58. Rock singer Chris Robinson is 56. Actor Nicole deBoer is 52. Movie director Todd Phillips is 52. Singer David Cook (“American Idol”) is 40. Actor Jonah Hill is 39. Actor Bob Morley is 38. Singer JoJo is 32. Actor Colin Woodell is 31.

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