On This Day

Historical Events on December 20

  • 69 General Vespasian's troops occupy Rome after defeating the Emperor Vitellius
  • 1046 Pope Gregory VI abdicates at the Council of Sutri, ending a conflict between himself, Benedict IX and Sylvester III; Clement II becomes the new Pope

Historic Event

1192 Richard the Lionhearted captured in Vienna

  • 1448 Pope Nicholas V appoints Rudolf of Diepholt, Bishop of Utrecht, as cardinal

Historic Event

1522 Suleiman the Magnificent accepts surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who are allowed to evacuate. They eventually settle in Malta and become known as the Knights of Malta.

  • 1585 English fleet & Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, reach Vlissingen
  • 1600 Ottario Rinuccini and Giulio Caccini's opera "Euridice" published
  • 1606 The English colonial expedition to America, consisting of the ships Discovery, Godspeed and Susan Constant, departs Blackwall, London to found Jamestown, Virginia

Historic Event

1626 Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II and Prince of Transylvania Gabor Bethlen sign Peace of Pressburg (Bratislava)

  • 1661 Corporation Act enforced in England
  • 1669 1st jury trial in Delaware; Marcus Jacobson condemned for insurrection & sentenced to flogging, branding & slavery
  • 1688 Prince William of Orange's troops arrive in London

Historic Event

1699 Russian Tsar Peter the Great ordered Russian New Year changed from Sept 1 to Jan 1

  • 1780 Britain declares war on Holland

Historic Event

1790 1st successful US cotton mill begins spinning yarn in Pawtucket, Rhode Island built by Samuel Slater based on Richard Arkwright's design

  • 1803 French flag lowered in New Orleans to mark the formal transfer of the Louisiana Purchase from France to USA, purchased for $15M

Rumpelstiltskin

1812 "Grimm's Fairy Tales" or "Children's and Household Tales" by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm is first published

  • 1820 Missouri imposes a $1 bachelor tax on unmarried men aged between 21 & 50

Theater Premiere

1823 Play "Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus" by Helmina von Chézy with incidental music by Franz Schubert premieres in Vienna

  • 1830 Great Britain, France, Prussia, Austria and Russia recognize Belgium
  • 1850 Hawaiian post office established
  • 1860 South Carolina declared an "independent commonwealth" and secedes from the Union (US Civil War)
  • 1861 Battle of Dranesville, VA
  • 1862 -Dec 20th] Battle of Kelly's Ford, VA
  • 1862 -Jan 3rd] Vicksburg campaign
  • 1862 Confederate raid on Union supplies at Holly Springs, Mississippi

Historic Event

1862 Confederate Army Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest occupies Trenton, Kentucky (US Civil War)

  • 1864 -Dec 27th] Battle of Ft Fisher, NC
  • 1865 De Clear-Alkmaar railway opens

Historic Event

1879 Thomas Edison privately demonstrated incandescent light at Menlo Park

  • 1880 Battle at Bronker's Spruit, Transvaal: Farmers beat Britten
  • 1880 NY's Broadway lit by electricity, becomes known as "Great White Way"
  • 1883 Intl cantilever railway bridge opens at Niagara Falls
  • 1891 Strongman Louis Cyr withstands pull of 4 horses
  • 1892 Pneumatic automobile tire patented, Syracuse, NY
  • 1893 1st state anti-lynching statute approved, in Georgia
  • 1894 England beat Australia by 10 runs in the 1st six-day Test Cricket, Australia needed 177 to win, all out at 166 on 6th day
  • 1900 Giacobini discovers a comet (will be 1st comet visited by spacecraft)
  • 1905 'Philadelphia' Jack O'Brien wins the World Light Heavyweight boxing title after defending champion Bob Fitzsimmons of England retires in round 13 of 20 in San Francisco
  • 1906 Venezuela (under vice-pres Gomez) attacks Dutch fleet
  • 1907 Explosion at Yolande Alabama, coal mine kills 91
  • 1912 J Hartley Manners' "Peg O' My Heart" premieres in NYC
  • 1912 Paul Claudels "L'Annonce Faite à Marie" premieres in Paris
  • 1915 Russian troops overrun Qom, Persia
  • 1915 Final withdraw of all allied troops from Anzac Cove

Historic Event

1917 Cheka formed - Soviet state security force and forerunner to the KGB, under Felix Dzerzhinsky after decree by Lenin

  • 1917 A second nationwide referendum on military conscription is rejected by the Australian public

Historic Event

1918 Eugene O'Neill's "Moon of the Caribees" premieres in NYC

  • 1918 The Allies turn their attention to Bolshevik expansion in the East, landing troops in Crimea and Latvia
  • 1919 Canadian National Railways established (N America's longest, 50,000 KM)
  • 1919 US House of Representatives restricts immigration
  • 1920 Bert Collins scores 104 on Test Cricket debut v England SCG

Film & TV History

1920 Bob Hope becomes an American citizen

Sports History

1921 AL votes to return to best-of-7 World Series, while NL votes best-of-9; Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis casts deciding vote for best-of-7

  • 1922 14 republics form Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics (USSR)
  • 1922 Polish parliament selects Stanislaw Wojcieckowski as president

Coup d'état

1924 Adolf Hitler freed from jail early, having served only nine months of five-year sentence for "Beer Hall Putsch"

  • 1925 National Football League Championship: Chicago Cardinals (11-2-1) win controversial first past the post title; Pottsville Maroons suspended after playing unsanctioned game

Sports History

1926 St. Louis Cardinals trade future Baseball Hall of Fame infielder Rogers Hornsby to NY Giants for Frankie Frisch & Jimmy Ring; concerns over Hornsby's gambling

Historic Event

1926 Pope Pius XI convicts fascist pursuit in Italy

  • 1926 Sidney Howard's "Silver Cord" premieres in NYC
  • 1928 1st international dogsled mail leaves Minot, Maine for Montreal, Quebec
  • 1928 Ethel Barrymore Theater opens at 243 W 47th St NYC
  • 1929 Heinie Wagner replaces Bill Carrigan as Red Sox manager
  • 1929 Mount Davidson dedicated as a San Francisco city park
  • 1930 Learie Constantine cricket 100 in 52 mins WI v Tas (10x4, 1x6, 1x5)
  • 1932 50 year old Australian cricket Test spinner Bert Ironmonger captures 7-13 as Queensland dismissed for 74; Victoria wins by an innings & 139 runs in Melbourne
  • 1933 Bolivia & Paraguay sign cease fire
  • 1935 Pope Pius XI publishes encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii
  • 1937 Australian cricket spin bowler Bill O'Reilly takes career best 9-41 for NSW in a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia at Adelaide Oval
  • 1938 Boston Bruins rookie goalie Frankie Brimsek records his 3rd straight shutout with a 3-0 win over the New York Americans, making it his incredible sixth shutout in his first 8 NHL games
  • 1939 Radio Australia begins overseas shortwave service

Sports History

1940 Connie Mack acquires controlling interest in the Athletics for $42,000

  • 1941 Free France under adm Muselier occupies St-Pierre et Miquelon
  • 1941 Japanese troops land on Mindanao, Philippines
  • 1941 World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers" in Kunming, China.
  • 1942 1st Japanese bombing of Calcutta
  • 1943 "Internationale" is no longer USSR National Anthem
  • 1944 Archbishop De Young & bishop Huibers condemn black market
  • 1944 Battle of Bastogne: Nazis surround 101st Airborne (NUTS!)
  • 1944 Bishop forbids membership of non Catholic unions

Historic Event

1944 Terence Rattigan's "O Mistress Mine" premieres in London

  • 1945 Rationing of auto tires ends in US

Music Premiere

1946 Darius Milhaud's 2nd Symphony, premieres

Film Premier

1946 Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life" film, directed by Frank Capra, starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore premieres in New York

  • 1948 Second Chamber accept 2nd Police Action in Indonesia

Music History

1949 Maurice Ravel and John Cranko's ballet "Beauty And The Beast" premieres

Film Premier

1950 "Harvey" starring James Stewart premieres in New York

  • 1951 Walter Zinn's Experimental Breeder Reactor I, the first nuclear reactor to produce electric power, goes live at the Argonne National Laboratory, USA
  • 1952 KHQ TV channel 6 in Spokane, WA (NBC) begins broadcasting
  • 1953 KID (now KIDK) TV channel 3 in Idaho Falls, ID (CBS) 1st broadcasting
  • 1953 KWTV TV channel 9 in Oklahoma City, OK (CBS) begins broadcasting
  • 1955 Cardiff is proclaimed the capital city of Wales
  • 1956 Military coup under colonel Simbolon in Sumatra
  • 1956 Montgomery, Alabama removes race-based seat assignments on its buses

Music History

1957 Elvis Presley receives his draft notice to join the US Army for National Service

  • 1959 Indian cricket spin bowler Jasubhai Patel takes 9-69 in Australia's 1st innings 219 in 2nd Test at Kanpur
  • 1960 Auschwitz commandant Richard Bar arrested in German FR
  • 1960 The National Liberation Front, better known as the Viet Cong, is officially formed in South Vietnam

Music History

1962 Osmond brothers debut on Andy Williams Show

  • 1963 Berlin Wall opens for 1st time to West Berliners
  • 1963 Massemba-Debate elected President of Congo-Brazzaville
  • 1963 Trial against 21 camp guards of Auschwitz begins

Film Release

1963 "Contempt" film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance, is released

  • 1964 Levi Eshkol forms 12th Israeli government
  • 1966 NBA awards Seattle Supersonics a franchise for 1967-68 season
  • 1966 Nuclear Planning Group forms in Brussels
  • 1966 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
  • 1967 474,300 US soldiers in Vietnam
  • 1967 Ian Anderson & Glenn Cornick form rock group Jethro Tull
  • 1968 The Zodiac Killer kills Betty Lou Jenson and David Faraday in Vallejo, California.
  • 1968 The People's Democracy (PD) announce that its members will undertake a protest march from Belfast to Derry beginning 1 January 1969

#1 in the Charts

1969 Peter, Paul & Mary's cover of John Denver's song "Leaving On A Jet Plane" reaches #1

  • 1970 Edward Gierek succeeds Wladyslaw Gomulka as Poland's communist party leader
  • 1971 Pakistan president Yahya Khan resigns

Historic Publication

1971 First preview issue of "Ms" magazine is published in the US launched by Gloria Steinem

Film & TV History

1972 Neil Simons "Sunshine Boys" premieres in NYC

  • 1972 Five civilians (four Catholics, one Protestant) killed in gun attack on the Top of the Hill Bar in Derry, North Ireland

Sports History

1973 AL president Joe Cronin refuses to allow Dick Williams to manage Yankees

  • 1973 Dutch Antillean government of Evertsz forms

Sports History

1973 Montreal Canadien Henri Richard scores his 1,000th NHL point

  • 1974 Ethiopia becomes socialist one-party state

Album Release

1974 George Harrison releases his "Dark Horse", his fifth studio album in UK

Film Release

1974 "The Godfather Part II", directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, is released (Academy Awards Best Picture 1975)

  • 1975 Joe Walsh recruited to join Eagles

Historic Event

1975 Pope Paul VI named J Willebrands archbishop of Utrecht

  • 1976 "Music Is" opens at St James Theater NYC for 8 performances
  • 1977 1st Space walk made by Soviet cosmonaut Georgy Grechko during Salyut 6 EO-1 mission
  • 1977 RAF -terrorist Knut Folkerts sentenced to 20 years

Historic Event

1978 H. R. Haldeman, Nixon's White House Chief of Staff released from jail

  • 1979 Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Behn Wilson scores with 4:08 remaining in regulation to earn a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins and equal NHL record for longest undefeated streak of 28 games; go on to break record and extend to 35 games
  • 1980 USSR formally announces death of Alexei Kosygin
  • 1981 Harry Krieger and Tom Eyen's musical "Dreamgirls" opens at Imperial Theater, NYC; runs for 1522 performances, wins 6 Tony, 5 Drama Desk, and 2 Grammy Awards
  • 1981 Browns set team records for most fumbles (9) & most turnovers (10)
  • 1981 Winnipeg left wing Doug Smail sets NHL record by scoring just 4 seconds into Jets' 5-4 win over the St Louis Blues; fastest goal from opening face-off to back of net in history; later tied by Bryan Trottier and Alex Mogilny
  • 1983 El Salvador adopts constitution

Sports History

1983 Guy Lafleur, Montreal, became 10th NHLer to score 500 goals

  • 1983 NY Islanders score their most goals (11) vs Pitts Penguins

Historic Event

1983 PLO chairman Yasser Arafat & 4,000 loyalists evacuate Lebanon

  • 1984 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site

Sports History

1985 Denis Potvin passes Bobby Orr as NHL defenseman scorer (916 points)

  • 1985 Sportscaster Howard Cosell retires from television sports after 20 years with ABC
  • 1985 Position of American Poet Laureate established (Robert Warren is 1st)
  • 1986 White teenagers beat blacks in New York City's Howard Beach
  • 1987 76th Davis Cup: Sweden beats India in Gothenburg (5-0)
  • 1987 Dona Paz ferry sinks after crash with oil tanker Vector in Philippine waters, 4,386 die in world's deadliest peacetime maritime disaster
  • 1988 Animal rights terrorists fire-bomb Harrod's department store, London
  • 1988 NBC signs lease to stay in NYC, 33 more years
  • 1988 Premier Ranasinghe Premadasa elected President of Sri Lanka

Film Premier

1988 "Working Girl" premieres directed by Mike Nicols, starring Melanie Griffin, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver

  • 1989 Premier Lubbers sees CDA-party leader Elco Brinkman as successor

Historic Event

1989 US troops invade Panama & oust Manuel Noriega, but don't catch him

  • 1990 Pentagon warns Saddam that US air power is ready to attack on 1/15
  • 1990 Robert F X Sillerman purchases WAFL NY-NJ Knights for $11 million
  • 1990 The world's first website and server go live at CERN
  • 1991 NHL grants permanent membership to Tampa Lightning & Ottawa Senators

Leadership Contest

1991 Paul Keating becomes Prime Minister of Australia after rolling Bob Hawke for leadership of the Labor party

  • 1991 A Missouri court sentences the Palestinian militant Zein Isa and his wife Maria to death for the honor killing of their daughter Palestina.
  • 1992 Northwest & KLM introduce a new joint logo "Worldwide Reliability"

Election of Interest

1992 Slobodan Milosevic re-elected president of Serbia

  • 1994 Ballon d'Or: FC Barcelona's Bulgarian forward Hristo Stoichkov is named Europe's best football player ahead of Juventus striker Roberto Baggio and Milan defender Paolo Maldini
  • 1995 Revival of Phillip Hayes Dean's drama "Paul Robeson" opens at Longacre Theater, NYC; runs for 14 performances
  • 1995 American Flight 965 crashes into a mountain in Buga, Colombia, 159 die, 5 survive
  • 1995 NATO begins peacekeeping in Bosnia

Film Release

1996 Horror film classic "Scream", starring Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox, is released

  • 1999 Portugal returns Macau to China
  • 2001 Argentine economic crisis: President of Argentina Fernando de la Rúa is forced out of office.
  • 2001 90th Davis Cup: France beats Australia in Melbourne (3-2)
  • 2002 US Senator Trent Lott resigns as majority leader.
  • 2005 US District Court Judge John E. Jones III rules against mandating the teaching of "intelligent design" in his ruling of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
  • 2005 The first same sex civil partnerships in Scotland are celebrated
  • 2005 New York City's Transport Workers Union Local 100 goes on strike over pension and wage increases, shutting down all subway and bus services for three days

Album Release

2005 "The Breakthrough" 7th studio album by Mary J. Blige is released

  • 2006 A judge rules against the death penalty in the case of Naveed Haq, a man convicted in the shooting death and injuries at the Jewish Federation in Seattle.

Historic Event

2007 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days.

Historic Event

2007 The painting Portrait of Suzanne Bloch (1904), by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, was stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art, along with O Lavrador de Café, by the major Brazilian modernist painter Candido Portinari.

  • 2012 Apple is denied a patent for mobile pinch-to-zoom gestures by the US patent authorities
  • 2012 Intercontinental Exchange purchases the New York Stock Exchange, the largest in the world, for $8 billion
  • 2014 Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley kills 2 NYPD officers in Brooklyn, New York, supposedly in revenge for the killing of Eric Garner, before killing himself
  • 2015 Landslide from construction waste in Shenzhen, China leaves 74 dead or missing and buries 30 buildings

Music History

2017 Lady Gaga signs Las Vegas residency deal for $75m at MGM Park Theatre

  • 2017 US House and Senate pass $1.5 trillion tax and jobs bill, the biggest tax overhaul for decades
  • 2017 European Commission triggers first step of its article 7 procedure issuing Poland with formal warning of risk to voting rights

Historic Event

2018 US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis announces his resignation after disagreements with President Donald Trump

  • 2018 New figures show average US male weighs 198 pounds and stands 5 feet 9 inches, women 171 pounds and 5 feet 4 inches
  • 2019 United States Space Force founded, an armed forces branch dedicated to space warfare
  • 2019 Landmark climate justice case as Dutch Supreme Court upholds 2013 decision brought by Urgenda Foundation against Dutch government for not reducing carbon dioxide emissions
  • 2019 Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana granted US federal recognition, providing the right to certain legal and government benefits
  • 2020 European countries begin closing their borders to the UK after news of a faster-spreading variant of COVID-19 across London and the south-east
  • 2021 First Hong Kong legislative elections with only 'patriot' candidates allowed to stand has low turnout of 30%