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Today in History for December

Dec 01

Why was the 1824 election called the Corrupt Bargain?

December 1, 1824 — Today, the debate began to decide the outcome of a deadlock between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson in the US House of Representatives. For the first time no candidate ran as a Federalist, while five significant candidates competed...

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Dec 02

What did the Monroe Doctrine state?

December 2, 1823 — President James Monroe declared his "Monroe Doctrine" today in 1823, which stated that efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression, requiring US intervention. It also noted that the US would neither...

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Dec 03

What was the name of Frederick Douglass’ newspaper?

December 3, 1847 — Today, abolitionist Frederick Douglass published the first issue of his anti-slavery newspaper, the "North Star." Its title was a reference to the directions given to runaway slaves trying to reach the Northern states and Canada: Follow the North Star....

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Dec 05

Who won the 2nd quadrennial presidential election?

December 5, 1792 — George Washington is re-elected as the President of the United States today. The election process lasted just more than a month — from Friday, November 2 to Wednesday, December 5, 1792. As in the first presidential election, Washington was considered to...

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Dec 06

Who established the US observatory today?

December 6, 1825 — President John Quincy Adams signed the bill for the creation of a national US observatory today. The observatory's primary mission was to care for the United States Navy's marine chronometers, charts, and other navigational equipment. It calibrated ships' chronometers by timing...

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Dec 07

Could Pearl Harbor happen again?

December 7, 1941 — Today marks the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor — a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base in what was then the Territory of Hawaii that led to the United States' entry into World War...

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Dec 09

Who established New York’s first daily newspaper?

December 9, 1793 — Noah Webster established New York's first daily newspaper, the American Minerva.  It aimed to contain “the earliest intelligence, collected from the most authentic sources,” and it’s full of those long s letterforms (ſ) that look like lowercase fs and were...

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Dec 12

Who gave Beethoven his first lesson in music composition?

December 12, 1792 — In Vienna, Ludwig Von Beethoven (right, then 22) received his first lesson in music composition from Franz Joseph Haydn today. Historians believe that Beethoven was first introduced to Haydn in late 1790, when the latter was traveling to...

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Dec 14

Where did the first state road run?

December 14, 1793 — The first state road is authorized today, running from Frankfort, KY to Cincinnati. Russell Dyche, in "Laurel County Kentucky," explains that the original settlers' route to Kentucky was over the Wilderness Road in the Virginia and...

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Dec 18

Where was George Washington’s body interred today?

December 18, 1799 — George Washington's body was interred at Mount Vernon today. According to historians: He died in his bedchamber on the premises four days earlier. His last will outlined his desire to be buried at home. Washington additionally made provisions for a new...

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Dec 20

Who first called NYC’s Broadway, “The Great White Way?”

December 20, 1880 — A stretch of Broadway between Union Square and Madison Square was illuminated tonight by Brush arc lamps, making it among the first electrically lighted streets in the United States. It wasn't until February 3, 1902 that reporter Shep Friedman — a columnist for the New York...

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Dec 21

Who was the first US Secretary of State?

December 21, 1784 — John Jay became the first US Secretary of State today. The American statesman and diplomat was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, a signer of the Treaty of Paris and the second Secretary of Foreign Affairs — until the office was changed...

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Dec 22

What was the goal of the Embargo Act of 1807?

December 22, 1807 — The Embargo Act of 1807 was signed today. Sponsored by President Thomas Jefferson and enacted by Congress, it was a general embargo that made any and all exports from the United States illegal. Historians explain that the goal...

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Dec 23

Who wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls?”

December 23, 1776 — Today, Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Paine wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls," for The American Crisis, a pamphlet series published during the American Revolution from 1776 to 1783. "Throughout most of his life, his writings inspired passion, but...

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Dec 25

Who performed the first abdominal surgery in the US?

December 25, 1809 — Physician Ephraim McDowell (November 11, 1771 – June 25, 1830) performed the first abdominal surgery in the US today – removing a 22.5-pound ovarian tumor. Born in Rockbridge County, VA, the American physician and pioneer surgeon has been called...

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Dec 28

Who published “Poor Richard’s Almanack” today?

December 28, 1732 — Benjamin Franklin began publishing "Poor Richard's Almanack" today. The publisher of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Gazette adopted the pseudonym of "Poor Richard" or "Richard Saunders" for his annual publication, which became a bestseller through 1758. Print runs reached 10,000 per year. The American inventor, statesman, and publisher used a mixture of seasonal...

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Dec 29

What is the Treaty of New Echota?

December 29, 1835 — The Treaty of New Echota is signed today, ceding all the lands of the Cherokee east of the Mississippi River to the US. Although the treaty was not approved by the Cherokee National Council nor signed by...

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Dec 30

Why do US banks stop payments on gold today in 1861?

December 30, 1861 — US banks suspended specie payments today, halting payments in gold or silver coins for paper currency called notes or bills). As a result, Americans could no longer convert bank notes into coins. Government responded by passing the Legal Tender...

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