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Today in History

1545
John Cotton born in England
1783
George Washington takes leave of his officers at Fraunce's Tavern in New York
1942
Olympic Gold Medalist speed skater and track cyclist Christa Ludig born in WeiƟwasser, East Germany
1945
US formally joins the United Nations
1949
Clinical psychologist, comedian and actress, Pamela Stephenson born in Auckland, New Zealand
1949
Academy Award winning actor Jeff Bridges born in Los Angeles, California
1957
Eric Steven Raymond, open source advocate and author of "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," born in Boston, Massachusetts
1964
Academy Award winning actress, Marisa Tomei born in Brooklyn, New York
1980
Led Zeppelin disbands
1075
Martyrdom of St. Anno
1093
Archbishop Anselm, of Canterbury, consecrated
1099
Death of St. Osmund
1154
Nicolas Breakspear, the first and only Englishman to be elected Pope, was crowned as Adrian IV.
1183
The Siege of Castle Kerak is lifted; Saladin withdraws
1214
Death of William, "the Lion," King of Scotland
1334
Death of Pope John XXII
1383
Pope Felix V born
1563
Council of Trent expands the authority of the Pope
1585
John Cotton, Puritan clergyman in Massachusetts Bay Colony born
1642
Cardinal de Richelieu, the French statesman, died. He was chief minister to King Louis XIII of France and, from 1629, first minister and actual ruler of France.
1732
The composer John Gay died. He is buried in Westminster Abbey, where there is an epitaph that Gay is said to have written himself. It reads, "Life is a jest, and all things show it. I thought so once, and now I know it."
1783
Gen. George Washington bade farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York. In a choked voice, the departing chief commander of the Continental Army said, "With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you."
1791
Britain's Observer newspaper, the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world, was first published.
1795
Historian Thomas Carlyle born
1812
The power mower was patented on this day by Peter Gaillard of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
1816
James Monroe of Virginia was elected the fifth president of the United States.
1835
English novelist Samuel Butler born
1839
The Whig Party opened a national convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during which delegates nominated William Henry Harrison for president.
1861
Actress-singer (Helen Louise Leonard) Lillian Russell born
1861
Queen Victoria of Britain forbids the export of gunpowder, firearms and all materials for their production.
1866
Artist Wassily Kadinsky born
1867
- The National Grange of Husbandry was founded this day. The organization of farmers was known, typically, as the Grange. The group contributed to agriculture and served as a focus for rural social life in America.
1872
The 'Mary Celeste' is found adrift.
1875
William Marcy Tweed, the "Boss" of New York City's Tammany Hall political organization, escaped from jail and fled the country.
1881
Eduard Hanslick trashed Tchaikovsky. "There can be music that stinks to the ear," Hanslick wrote, of Tchaikovsky's enchanting Violin Concerto.
1892
Spanish dictator Francisco Franco born
1912
Aviator Pappy (Gregory) Boyington born
1915
Pianist composer Eddie Heywood, Jr. (Canadian Sunset) born
1918
President Wilson set sail for France to attend the Versailles Peace Conference.
1921
Actress-singer Deanna Durbin born
1923
Maria Callas was born in New York City according to her mother. However, school records said she was born the day before, and the diva herself said she was born the day before that Maria Callas was a stage name adopted later. She was born Evangelia Kalogeropoulos. (Perhaps this is what accounts for the frequent descrepancies in birthdates)I placed her birthday on December 2nd as well. born
1927
Duke Ellington's big band opened the famed Cotton Club in Harlem. It was the first appearance of the Duke's new and larger group. He played the club until 1932.
1930
Baseball shortstop Harvey Kuenn (American League Rookie of the Year 1953) born
1931
Hockey player Alex Delvecchio (Most Gentlemanly Player 1966, 1969) born
1932
The president of South Korea, Roh Tae-woo born
1932
"Tobacco Road", a play based on Erskine Caldwell's book, premiered at the Masque Theatre in New York City. The play ran for eight years and 3,182 shows.
1932
"Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press!". "The Jergens Journal" aka "The Walter Winchell Show" and later, "Kaiser-Frazer News" was first heard on the NBC-Blue network this night. Winchell kept that gossip show going on the radio for 23 years. It was sponsored at first by Jergens lotion and later, by Dryad deodorant, Kaiser-Frazer cars and Richard Hudnut shampoo.
1934
Game show host Wink Martindale (some sources 1930) born
1934
Ethel Merman recorded, "I Get a Kick Out of You", from Cole Porter's musical, "Anything Goe." She was backed by the Johnny Green Orchestra. The tune was recorded for Brunswick Records.
1937
Actor-producer Max Baer Junior (The Beverly Hillbillies, Ode to Billy Joe) born
1940
Singer Freddy 'Boom Boom' Cannon (Frederick Anthony Picariello) born
1941
Tennis champ Marty Riessen born
1942
U-S bombers struck the Italian mainland for the first time in World War Two.
1942
President Roosevelt ordered liquidation of the Works Progress Administration, created during the Depression to provide work for the unemployed.
1942
Rock musician Bob Mosley (Moby Grape) born
1942
Singer-musician Chris Hillman born
1944
Drummer singer Dennis Wilson (Group born
1945
The Senate approved US participation in the United Nations.
1948
Rock singer Southside Johnny Lyon born
1949
Actor Jeff Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Fisher King, The Last Picture Show, The Company She Keeps, American Heart) born
1950
University of Tennessee defies court rulings by rejecting five Negro applicants.
1951
Actress Patricia Wettig born
1951
Rock musician Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd; the Rossington Collins Band) born
1955
Jazz singer Cassandra Wilson born
1955
As part of an NBC-TV special, mime artist Marcel Marceau appeared on television for the first time.
1959
Rock musician Bob Griffin (The BoDeans) born
1962
Rock singer Vinnie Dombroski (Sponge) born
1962
James Caan made his TV acting debut in "A Fist of Five", an episode of "The Untouchables", starring Robert Stack.
1964
Actress Marisa Tomei born
1964
Actress Chelsea Noble born
1965
The United States launched "Gemini Seven" with Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Frank Borman and Navy Commander James A. Lovell aboard.
1965
Composer, lyricist and singer Jacques Brel made his American debut in concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Brel composed "Jackie", "You're Not Alone", "If You Go Away" and more.
1971
India joined East Pakistan in its war for independence from West Pakistan. East Pakistan became the republic of Bangladesh.
1973
Actress-model Tyra Banks born
1977
Jean-Bedel Bokassa, ruler of the Central African Empire, crowned himself emperor in a ceremony believed to have cost more than $100 million. (Bokassa was deposed in 1979; he died in November 1996 at age 75.)
1980
The bodies of four American churchwomen slain in El Salvador two days earlier were unearthed. (Five national guardsmen were later convicted of murdering nuns Ita Ford, Maura Clarke and Dorothy Kazel, and lay worker Jean Donovan.)
1981
President Reagan broadens the power of the CIA by allowing spying in the U.S.
1981
Country singer Lila McCann born
1982
Running back Herschel Walker, of the University of Georgia, received the Heisman Trophy as the nation's finest college football player. Walker was only the seventh junior to receive the award.
1982
President Reagan returned home from a four-nation Latin American tour, telling reporters the trip had been "real fruitful" and that "we established very good relations there."
1983
U.S. jet fighters struck Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon in retaliation for fire directed at American reconnaissance planes. Navy Lt. Robert O. Goodman Jr. was shot down and captured by Syria.
1984
A five-day hijack drama began as four men seized a Kuwaiti airliner en route to Pakistan and forced it to land in Tehran. During the siege, two American passengers were killed by the hijackers.
1984
The discovery of a Bronze Age shipwreck off the southern coast of Turkey was announced by the National Geographic Society this day. The find dated back to when King Tutankhamen ruled Egypt.
1985
National security adviser Robert McFarlane resigned. President Reagan named Vice Adm. John Poindexter to succeed him.
1985
Dallas, Texas became the largest city in the United States to pass a no smoking law for restaurants.
1986
Both houses of Congress moved to establish special committees to conduct their own investigations of the Iran-Contra affair.
1987
Actor Orlando Brown ("Family Matters"; "Safe Harbor") born
1987
Cuban inmates at a federal prison in Atlanta freed their 89 hostages, peacefully ending an eleven-day uprising under an agreement providing for a moratorium on deportations of Mariel detainees nationwide.
1988
In Venezuela, former President Carlos Andres Perez was declared the winner of the country's presidential election.
1988
The government of Argentina announced that hundreds of heavily armed soldiers had ended a four-day military revolt.
1989
President Bush briefed NATO leaders in Brussels, Belgium, on the just-concluded Malta summit he'd held with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
1990
Iraq promised to release 3,300 Soviet citizens it was holding. President Bush, was not convinced that sanctions alone would bring Iraqi president Saddam Hussein "to his senses" about invading Kuwait.
1991
Florida resident Patricia Bowman testified at William Kennedy Smith's trial in West Palm Beach that Smith had raped her the previous Easter weekend.
1991
Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson, the longest held of the Western hostages in Lebanon, was released after nearly seven years in captivity.
1991
Pan American World Airways ceased operations. (However, a new smaller version of Pan Am returned in September 1996.)
1992
President Bush ordered American troops to lead a mercy mission to Somalia, threatening military action against warlords and gangs who were blocking food for starving millions.
1993
Rock musician and composer Frank Zappa died in Los Angeles at age 52.
1993
The Angolan government and its UNITA guerrilla foes formally adopted terms for a truce to end a conflict that was killing an estimated 1,000 people per day.
1993
Astronauts aboard space shuttle "Endeavour" captured the near-sighted Hubble Space Telescope for repairs.
1994
House Speaker-to-be Newt Gingrich charged in an NBC interview that as many as one quarter of the White House staff had used illegal drugs - a claim denounced the next day as "absolutely false" by Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.
1994
Bosnian Serbs released 53 out of some 400 UN peacekeepers they were holding as insurance against further NATO airstrikes.
1995
In a near-freezing drizzle, the first NATO troops landed in the Balkans to begin setting up a peace mission that was expected to bring 20,000 American soldiers into the middle of the Bosnian conflict.
1996
The Mars Pathfinder lifted off from Cape Canaveral and began speeding toward Mars on a 310 million-mile odyssey to explore the Red Planet's surface.
1997
The National Basketball Association suspended All-Star Latrell Sprewell of the Golden State Warriors for one year for choking and threatening to kill his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, three days earlier. (An arbitrator later reduced the suspension and reinstated Sprewell to the Warriors, which had terminated his contract.)
1998
Space shuttle "Endeavor" and a crew of six blasted off on the first mission to begin assembling the international space station.
1999
NASA scientists continued to wait in vain for a signal from the Mars Polar Lander, raising questions about the whereabouts of NASA's $165 million probe. (It's believed the spacecraft was destroyed after it plunged toward the Red Planet.)
2005
Bush's Iraq 'Strategy' seen as public relations exercise
2005
Top al-Qaeda leader killed in Pakistan
2005
World Squash Titles for Shabana and David
2005
Business Briefs for December 4, 2005
2005
Blogger attacks Amazon "One-Click" patent
2005
Scissors, screwdrivers accepted on US flights beginning December 22
2005
South Dakota tower demolition botched
2006
New Zealander fired for checking background information on girlfriends
2006
Turkish passports will soon use RFID chips
2006
Blair to announce plans for UK nuclear defence today
2006
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez re-elected
2006
Ignatieff, Rae say they'll run in next Canadian election
2006
Kofi Annan: Iraq situation much worse than civil war
2006
Rudd replaces Beazley as Australian opposition leader
2006
Fiji Military Coup possibly underway
2007
Standard Operating Procedure changes at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay
2007
A battle between AMD and Intel takes place at Taipei IT Month
2007
US Congress debates Iraq funding
2007
Climate change threatens world's poorest says Oxfam
2007
"Teddy bear teacher" returns to England
2007
Developing nations bring technology transfer on agenda against resistance of Canada, Japan and US
2007
Parts of Newfoundland still without power following weekend storms
2008
Lashkar-e-Toiba implicated in Mumbai attacks
2008
Congressional panel concludes Gulf War Syndrome a legitimate condition
2008
Somalia in danger of famine
2009
Attack on mosque kills 30 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan
2009
American botanist Lou Jost discovers world's smallest orchid
2009
Israel "illegally annexing" east Jerusalem, EU reports
2009
China-EU financial relations are growing
2010
Alassane Ouattara 'wins' Ivory Coast presidential election
2010
British government scraps planned rules on pay equality
2010
'Completely irresponsible' woman called emergency services to report theft of snowman
2012
Australian Paralympian Janet Shaw dies aged 46
2012
Protesters arrested after barricading themselves inside portion of Keystone Oil Pipeline

In the early days of Unix, a date-tagged list of historical events was used by system administrators to add some interest to the system's Message of the Day. Whenever users logged in they would be presented with the latest system notices, perhaps some mildly amusing quotes and one or two lines of historical events, based on the current date.

Today in History (UNIX calendar) uses some of the entries from the original library but is updated with current events as well. Instead of plain text, each entry is now formatted in HTML and each day may include one or more icons of historical figures or celebrities.

Other things unique to the UNIX calendar are references to dates found in fictional literature such as Lord of the Rings, perhaps undue emphasis on people and events that were part of popular culture in the 70's and technical minutiae about computers and operating systems that might not be found in other places.

In association with Amazon, this symbol is a link to related products at amazon.com. Any proceeds resulting from the sales of these products are used to defray the cost of maintaining the Today in History site and editorial efforts.

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