This Day in History — December 12


This Day in History — December 12

Thursday, December 12, 2019

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Today is the 346th day of 2019. There are 19 days left in the year.


1800: Washington, DC, is established as the capital of the United States.


1642: Dutch navigator Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand.

1677: Brandenburg's Frederick William I takes Stettin, Poland; Denmark's King Christian V is defeated by Swedish forces at Cassel, Germany.

1742: French forces evacuate Prague, Czechoslovakia, and return to France.

1804: Spain declares war on Britain.

1870: Joseph H Rainey of South Carolina takes his seat in the US House of Representatives, becoming the first black congressman.

1875: Sultan of Turkey promises reforms throughout Ottoman Empire to meet rebel demands.

1894: Japanese troops invade Korea.

1899: African American George Grant receives the first patent for a golf tee.

1905: Russia's Czar Nicholas II grants constitution in Montenegro.

1913: The Mona Lisa is recovered in Italy, two years after it was stolen from the Louvre museum in Paris.

1920: Martial law is declared in Cork, Ireland.

1935: Nationalists demand restitution of Egypt's Constitution of 1923.

1937: Japanese aircraft sinks the US gunboat Panay on China's Yangtze River. Japan later apologises and pays $2.2 million in reparations.

1946: A UN committee votes to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D Rockefeller Jr to be the site of UN headquarters.

1953: US test pilot Chuck Yeager reaches Mach 2.3 (2.3 times the speed of sound) in a Bell X-1A rocket plane.

1963: Kenya becomes independent within British Commonwealth and a republic a year later.

1969: Greece, under fire on charges of violating human rights, withdraws from the Council of Europe before it can be expelled.

1975: Sara Jane Moore pleads guilty to trying to kill US President Gerald Ford; a group of generals, led by Major General Chun Doo-hwan, stage an army coup in South Korea and seize power.

1985: An Arrow Air charter flight crashes after take-off from Gander, Newfoundland, killing 248 American soldiers and eight crew members.

1989: British begin forced repatriation of Vietnamese refugees from camps in Hong Kong.

1990: Bangladesh's deposed President Hossain Muhammad Ershad is put under house arrest.

1992: A strong earthquake kills 2,500 people on Flores Island, eastern Indonesia.

1993: President Boris Yeltsin wins approval of his new constitution, but extreme nationalists and Communists make a strong showing in Russia's first multiparty elections since the 1917 Revolution.

1994: The Brazilian supreme court acquits former President Fernando Collor de Mello of corruption charges.

1997: Russia reaches an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for US$1.7 billion in loans, giving the state a chance to pay back wages to millions of public employees.

1999: A Maltese-registered tanker, the Erika, breaks in two during a violent sea storm off the north-west coast of France, spilling some 3 million gallons (11.4 million litres) of heavy oil.

2000: The US Supreme Court reverses the Florida Supreme Court's order to begin manual recounts of presidential votes in certain counties and Democrat Al Gore concedes defeat to Republican George W Bush.

2004: Mexican authorities request a local warrant for the arrest of former Guatemalan Interior Minister Donaldo Alvarez Ruiz, who is wanted in Spain for his alleged role in the 1980 attack against the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala.

2005: Anti-Syrian journalist Gibran Tueni is killed in a car bomb in Lebanon on the day the United Nations is expected to release a follow-up report implicating Syria in the slaying of a former Lebanese prime minister.

2007: A car bomb attack kills one of Lebanon's top generals, Brig Gen Francois Hajj, and his driver. The blast was the first such attack against the Lebanese army, which has remained neutral in Lebanon's year-long political crisis.

2008: A British jury decides that a string of police failures caused the death of a Brazilian electrician shot by anti-terror police on July 22, after being mistaken for a suicide bomber.

2011: Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal says he is surprised and somewhat disappointed that he did not get a new sentencing hearing in the racially charged US murder case that had kept him on death row for nearly 30 years.

2012: North Korea successfully launches its first satellite into space, heightening concerns it has moved one step closer to being capable of lobbing nuclear bombs over the Pacific.

2013: The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial says he suffers from schizophrenia and hallucinated while gesturing incoherently just 3 feet (1 metre) away from President Barack Obama and other world leaders, outraging deaf people worldwide who said his signs amounted to gibberish.


John Jay, US revolutionary, diplomat, Supreme Court Justice (1745-1829); Gustave Flaubert, French author (1821-1880); Edvard Munch, Norwegian artist (1863-1944); John Osborne, English playwright (1929-1994); Frank Sinatra, US singer/actor (1915-1998); Bob Barker, US game show host (1923- ); Jennifer Connelly, US actress (1970- ).

— AP

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