December 31

Today's:


1687 - The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, where they would later create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.

1695 - The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up.

1711 - The Duke of Marlborough was dismissed as commander-in-chief.

1775 - The British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec. Montgomery was killed in the battle.

1841 - The State of Alabama enacted the first dental legislation in the U.S.

1857 - Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.

1862 - U.S. President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.

1877 - U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first U.S. President to celebrate his silver (25th) wedding anniversary in the White House.

1879 - Thomas Edison gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting to an audience in Menlo Park, NJ.

1891 - New York's new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.

1897 - Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.

1923 - In London, the BBC first broadcast the chimes of Big Ben.

1929 - Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played "Auld Lang Syne" as a New Year's Eve song for the first time.

1946 - U.S. President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

1947 - Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were married.

1953 - Willie Shoemaker broke his own record as he won his 485th race of the year.

1954 - The last episode of the radio show "Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" aired.

1955 - General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year.

1960 - The farthing coin, which had been in use in Great Britain since the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.

1961 - In the U.S., the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.

1967 - The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game is known as the Ice Bowl since it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero. (NFL)

1974 - Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.

1978 - Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, DC. The event marked the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.

1979 - At year end oil prices were 88% higher than at the start of 1979.

1986 - A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, killed 97 and injured 140 people. Three hotel workers later pled guilty to charges in connection with the fire.

1990 - Titleholder Gary Kasparov of the U.S.S.R. won the world chess championship match against his countryman Anatoly Karpov.

1996 - NCR Corp. became an independent company.

1997 - Michael Kennedy, 39-year-old son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.

1999 - Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president.

1999 - Five hijackers left the airport where they had been holding 150 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane. They left with two Islamic clerics that they had demanded be freed from an Indian prison. The plane had been hijacked during a flight from Katmandu, Nepal to New Dehli on December 24.

1999 - Sarah Knauss died at the age of 119 years. She was the world's oldest person. She was born September 24, 1880.
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