1783 - George Washington returned home to Mount Vernon, after the disbanding of his army following the Revolutionary War.
1788 - Maryland voted to cede a 100-square-mile area for the seat of the national government. About two-thirds of the area became the District of Columbia.
1823 - The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore (" 'Twas the night before Christmas...") was published.
1834 - English architect Joseph Hansom patented his 'safety cab', better known as the Hansom cab.
1852 - The Theatre of Celestial John opened on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, CA. It was the first Chinese theatre in the U.S.
1856 - Ralph Collier was issued a U.S. patent for the first rotary egg beater with rotating parts.
1880 - Thomas Edison incorporated the Edison Electric Light Company of Europe.
1888 - Following a quarrel with Paul Gauguin, Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh cut off part of his own earlobe.
1893 - The Engelbert Humperdinck opera "Hansel und Gretel" was first performed, in Weimar, Germany.
1913 - The Federal Reserve Bill was signed into law by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. The act established 12 Federal Reserve Banks.
1919 - The first ship designed to be used as an ambulance for the transport patients was launched. The hospital ship was named USS Relief and had 515 beds.
1922 - The British Broadcasting Corporation began daily news broadcasts.
1930 - Ruth Elizabeth Davis, an unknown actress, arrived in Hollywood, under contract to Universal Studios. Universal changed her name to Bette Davis for the movies.
1938 - "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" was heard for the final time on the radio.
1941 - During World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
1942 - Bob Hope agreed to entertain U.S. airmen in Alaska. It was the first of the traditional Christmas shows.
1943 - "Hansel and Gretel," the opera, was televised on New York's WRBG. It was the first complete opera to be televised.
1947 - John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley invented the transistor.
1948 - Former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo. They had been found guilty of crimes against humanity.
1951 - A National Football League (NFL) championship game was televised nationally for the first time. The Los Angeles Rams beat the Cleveland Browns 24-17. The DuMont Network had paid $75,000 for the rights to the game.
1953 - Soviet secret police chief Lavrenti Beria and six of his associates were shot for treason following a secret trial.
1954 - The Walt Disney movie "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" was released.
Disney movies, music and books
1957 - Dan Blocker made his acting debut on television in the "Restless Gun."
1965 - A 70-mph speed limit was introduced in Britain.
1968 - The crew of the U.S. Navy ship, Pueblo, was released by North Korea. The Captain of the Pueblo, Commander Lloyd M. Bucher, and 82 of his crew were held for 11 months after the ship was seized by North Korea because of suspected spying by the Americans.
1972 - The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Oakland Raiders 13-7 in an NFL playoff game on a last-second play that was dubbed the "Immaculate Reception." Pittsburgh's Franco Harris caught a deflected pass and ran it in for the winning touchdown.
1981 - NASA approved a plan to continue the Voyager II spacecraft on a trajectory that would take it within 66,000 miles of Uranus on July 24, 1986.
1986 - The experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, around-the-world flight without refueling as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
1987 - Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of U.S. President Ford in 1975, escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison for Women in West Virginia. She was recaptured two days later.
1989 - Ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were captured as they were attempting to flee their country.
1990 - Elections in Yugoslavia ended, leaving four of its six republics with non-Communist governments.
1995 - A fire in Dabwali, India, killed 540 people, including 170 children, during a year-end party being held near the children's school.
1995 - The bodies of 16 members of the Solar Temple religious sect were found in a clearing near Grenoble, France. 14 were presumed shot by two people who then committed suicide.
1997 - Terry Nichols was convicted by a Denver jury on charges of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the 1995 federal building bombing in Oklahoma City. The bomb killed 168 people.
1998 - Guerrillas in south Lebanon fired dozens of rockets at northern Israel.