December 4th in History

This day in historyDecember 4 is the 338th day of the year (339th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 27 days remaining until the end of the year.



Illustrerad Verldshistoria band I Ill 058.jpgIn 530 BC,  Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire was killed in battle.

He commonly known as Cyrus the Great and also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia and the Caucasus. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched from parts of the Balkans (BulgariaPannonia) and ThraceMacedonia in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. He also proclaimed what has been identified by scholars and archaeologists to be the oldest known declaration of human rights, which was transcribed onto the Cyrus Cylinder sometime between 539 and 530 BC. This view has been criticized by some as a misunderstanding of what they claim to be the Cylinder’s generic nature as a traditional statement of the sort that new monarchs may make at the beginning of their reign.

The reign of Cyrus the Great lasted between 29 and 31 years. Cyrus built his empire by conquering first the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire and eventually the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Either before or after Babylon, he led an expedition into central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that were described as having brought “into subjection every nation without exception”. Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, as he himself died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in December 530 BC. He was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II, who managed to add to the empire by conquering Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short rule.

Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. It is said that in universal history, the role of the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus lies in its very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects. In fact, the administration of the empire through satraps and the vital principle of forming a government at Pasargadae were the works of Cyrus. What is sometimes referred to as the Edict of Restoration (actually two edicts) described in the Bible as being made by Cyrus the Great left a lasting legacy on the Jewish religion, where, because of his policies in Babylonia, he is referred to by the Jewish Bible as Messiah (Isaiah 44:24, 26–45:3, 13), and is the only non-Jew to be called so:

So said the Lord to His anointed one, to Cyrus

Cyrus the Great is also well recognized for his achievements in human rights, politics, and military strategy, as well as his influence on both Eastern and Western civilizations. Having originated from Persis, roughly corresponding to the modern Iranian province of Fars, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran. Cyrus and, indeed, the Achaemenid influence in the ancient world also extended as far as Athens, where many Athenians adopted aspects of the Achaemenid Persian culture as their own, in a reciprocal cultural exchange.

John Damascus (arabic icon).gifIn 749,  John of Damascus, Syrian priest and saint (b. 676) dies. He was a Syrian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.  A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, he is said by some sources to have served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus before his ordination. He wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still used both liturgically in Eastern Christian practice throughout the world as well as in western Lutheranism at Easter. He is considered “the last of the Fathers” of the Eastern Orthodox church and is best known for his strong defense of icons. The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary. The most common source of information for the life of John of Damascus is a work attributed to one John of Jerusalem, identified therein as the Patriarch of Jerusalem. This is an excerpted translation into Greek of an earlier Arabic text. The Arabic original contains a prologue not found in most other translations, and was written by an Arab monk, Michael. Michael explained that he decided to write his biography in 1084 because none was available in his day. However, the main Arabic text seems to have been written by an earlier author sometime between the early 9th and late 10th centuries AD. Written from a hagiographical point of view and prone to exaggeration and some legendary details, it is not the best historical source for his life, but is widely reproduced and considered to contain elements of some value. The hagiographic novel Barlaam and Josaphat, traditionally attributed to John, is in fact a work of the 10th century.

In 771,  Austrasian king Carloman I dies, leaving his brother Charlemagne king of the now complete Frankish Kingdom.

In 1110,  The Kingdom of Jerusalem captures Sidon.

Omar Khayyam2.JPGIn 1131,  Omar Khayyám, Persian poet, astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher (b. 1048) dies. He commonly known as Omar Khayyám, was a sufi mystic, Persian polymath, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, and Islamic theology. Born in Nishapur in North Eastern Iran, at a young age he moved to Samarkand and obtained his education there. Afterwards he moved to Bukhara and became established as one of the major mathematicians and astronomers of the medieval period. He is the author of one of the most important treatises on algebra written before modern times, the Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra, which includes a geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle. He contributed to a calendar reform.

In 1259,  Kings Louis IX of France and Henry III of England agree to the Treaty of Paris, in which Henry renounces his claims to French-controlled territory on continental Europe (including Normandy) in exchange for Louis withdrawing his support for English rebels.

In 1563,  The final session of the Council of Trent is held. (It had opened on December 13, 1545.)

In 1619,  Thirty-eight colonists arrive at Berkeley Hundred, Virginia. The group’s charter proclaims that the day “be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

In 1674,  Father Jacques Marquette founds a mission on the shores of Lake Michigan to minister to the Illiniwek. (The mission would later grow into the city of Chicago.)

In 1676,  Battle of Lund: A Danish army under the command of King Christian V engages the Swedish army commanded by Field Marshal Simon Grundel-Helmfelt.

In 1745,  Charles Edward Stuart‘s army reaches Derby, its furthest point during the Second Jacobite Rising.

In 1783,  At Fraunces Tavern in New York City, U.S. General George Washington bids farewell to his officers.

In 1786,  Mission Santa Barbara is dedicated (on the feast day of Saint Barbara).

In 1791,  The first edition of The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, is published.

In 1829,  In the face of fierce local opposition, British Governor-General Lord William Bentinck issues a regulation declaring that anyone who abets suttee in Bengal is guilty of culpable homicide.

In 1864,  American Civil War: Sherman’s March to the Sea – At Waynesboro, Georgia, forces under Union General Judson Kilpatrick prevent troops led by Confederate General Joseph Wheeler from interfering with Union General William T. Sherman‘s campaign destroying a wide swath of the South on his march to the Atlantic Ocean from Atlanta.

In 1867,  Former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley founds the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry (better known today as the Grange).

In 1872,  The crewless American ship  Mary Celeste is found by the British brig Dei Gratia. The ship had been abandoned for nine days but was only slightly damaged.

In 1875,  Notorious New York City politician Boss Tweed escapes from prison. He will later be recaptured in Spain.

In 1881,  The first edition of the Los Angeles Times is published.

In 1893,  First Matabele War: A patrol of 34 British South Africa Company soldiers is ambushed and annihilated by more than 3,000 Matabele warriors on the Shangani River in Matabeleland.

In 1909,  In Canadian football, the First Grey Cup game is played. The University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeat the Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club, 26–6.

In 1909,  The Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club, the oldest surviving professional hockey franchise in the world, is founded as a charter member of the National Hockey Association.

In 1918,  U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, becoming the first US president to travel to Europe while in office.

In 1921,  The first Virginia Rappe manslaughter trial against Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle ends in a hung jury.

Union Station in 2015

Union Station in 2015

In 1927, Union Station is an Amtrak railroad station and commercial building in downtown Erie in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the only stop in Pennsylvania for the Lake Shore Limited, a passenger rail line serving Chicago, New York City, and Boston. The first railroad station in Erie, established in 1851, was replaced with a Romanesque Revival-style building in 1866. Union Station, the first Art Deco depot in the U.S., was dedicated on December 4, 1927. Passenger rail service dwindled after World War II, as air and highway travel increased. The station was jointly owned and operated by the New York Central and Pennsylvania railroads, which merged to form Penn Central, and passenger rail service was transferred to Amtrak in 1971. From 1972 to 1975, even Amtrak service in Erie was suspended. Union Station was largely neglected and allowed to decay until the freight management company Logistics Plus bought it in 2003. Since then, it has been restored and portions re-purposed as commercial and retail space.

In 1937,  The first issue of the children’s comic The Dandy is published.

In 1939,  World War II: HMS Nelson is struck by a mine (laid by U-31) off the Scottish coast and is laid up for repairs until August 1940.

In 1942,  World War II: Carlson’s patrol during the Guadalcanal Campaign ends.

In 1943,  World War II: In Yugoslavia, resistance leader Marshal Josip Broz Tito proclaims a provisional democratic Yugoslav government in-exile.

In 1943,  World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt closes down the Works Progress Administration, because of the high levels of wartime employment in the United States.

In 1945,  By a vote of 65 to 7, the United States Senate approves United States participation in the United Nations. (The UN had been established on October 24, 1945.)

In 1954,  The first Burger King is opened in Miami.

Galamb József.jpg

József Galamb

In 1955,  József Galamb, Hungarian-American engineer (b. 1881) dies in 1955 in Detroit.

Galamb finished his education at the Budapest Industrial Technology Engineering Course (the predecessor of the present-day Óbuda University Bánki Donát Politechnical College) in 1899. After receiving his diploma in mechanical engineering he worked at the Steel Engineering Factory in Diósgyőr as a draftsman. He next served one year in military service. He worked at the Hungarian Automobile Co., where he won a postgraduate scholarship to Germany. After the navy he went to see the world — Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen. In 1903 he worked in many German cities as a skilled worker, he got the best education at Adler in Frankfurt. He was hired to assemble automotive engines in a process in which each engine was built completely by one man. When he learned of the 1904 American Auto World Fair in St. Louis, he used his savings to travel to America by ship in October 1903. After two months in New York, he found employment as a toolmaker at the Westinghouse Corporation in Pittsburgh. Although he planned to go back to Germany in 1904, instead he joined the Stearns Automobile Company in Cleveland as a carburetor maker.

Galamb applied for work at the Silent Northern plant, the Cadillac plant and the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant. All three offered him work within three hours. He joined the Ford Motor Company (twenty-four years old at that time) as a designer in December 1905

In 1956,  The Million Dollar Quartet (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash) get together at Sun Studio for the first and last time.

In 1967,  Vietnam War: U.S. and South Vietnamese forces engage Viet Cong troops in the Mekong Delta.

Bert Lahr Circa 1940s.jpg

Bert Lahr Circa 1940s

In 1967,  Bert Lahr, American actor and singer (b. 1895) dies of cancer on December 4, 1967 at the age of 72 while he was still filming The Night They Raided Minsky’s. He was hospitalized on November 21 for what was reported as a back ailment. In Notes on a Cowardly Lion: The Biography of Bert Lahr, John Lahr wrote: “Bert Lahr died in the early morning of December 4, 1967. While the official cause of death was pneumonia, he had apparently had cancer for some time and without his knowledge.

Lahr was an American iconic actor, particularly of stage and film and comedian. Lahr is principally known for his role as the Cowardly Lion, as well as his counterpart Kansas farmworker Zeke in The Wizard of Oz (1939). He was well known for his explosive humor, but also adapted well to dramatic roles and his work in burlesque, vaudeville, and on Broadway.

Lahr was born in New York City, the son of Augusta and Jacob Lahrheim. His parents were German Jewish immigrants. Lahr grew up in the Yorkville section of Manhattan. Dropping out of school at 15 to join a juvenile vaudeville act, Lahr worked up to top billing on the Columbia Burlesque Circuit. In 1927 he debuted on Broadway in Delmar’s Revels. He played to packed houses, performing classic routines such as “The Song of the Woodman” (which he reprised in the film Merry-Go-Round of 1938). Lahr had his first major success in a stage musical playing the prize fighter hero of Hold Everything! (1928–29).

Lahr’s most iconic role was that of the Cowardly Lion in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer‘s 1939 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. Lahr was signed to play the role on July 25, 1938. He starred opposite Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Frank Morgan, and Margaret Hamilton. Lahr’s lion costume was composed of lion fur and, under the high-intensity lighting required for Oz’s Technicolor scenes, the costume was unbearably hot. Lahr contributed ad-lib comedic lines for his character. Many of Lahr’s scenes took several takes because other cast members, especially Garland, couldn’t complete the scenes without laughing.

In 1964 he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his role in the musical Foxy. At the American Shakespeare Festival he played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960), for which he received the Best Shakespearean Actor of the Year Award.

“Laughter is never too far away from tears,” he reflected on his comedy. “You will cry at a pedlar much easier than you would cry at a woman dressed in ermine who had just lost her whole family.”

In 1969,  Black Panther Party members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark are shot and killed in their sleep during a raid by 14 Chicago police officers.

In 1971,  The United Nations Security Council calls an emergency session to consider the deteriorating situation between India and Pakistan.

In 1971,  The Indian Navy attacks the Pakistan Navy and Karachi.

In 1971,  The Montreux Casino in Switzerland is set ablaze by someone wielding a flare gun during a Frank Zappa concert; the incident would be noted in the Deep Purple song “Smoke on the Water“.

In 1971,  “The Troubles“: The Ulster Volunteer Force bombs a Catholic-owned pub in Belfast, killing 15 civilians and wounding 17. It was the city’s highest death toll from a single incident during the conflict.

In 1975,  Suriname joins the United Nations.

In 1977,  Jean-Bédel Bokassa, president of the Central African Republic, crowns himself Emperor Bokassa I of the Central African Empire.

In 1977,  Malaysian Airline System Flight 653 is hijacked and crashes in Tanjong Kupang, Johor, killing 100.

In 1978,  Following the murder of Mayor George Moscone, Dianne Feinstein becomes San Francisco‘s first female mayor. (She will serve until January 8, 1988.)

In 1979,  The Hastie fire in Hull kills three schoolboys and eventually leads police to arrest Bruce George Peter Lee.

In 1980,  English rock group Led Zeppelin officially disbands, following the death of drummer John Bonham on September 25.

In 1981,  South Africa grants independence to the Ciskei “homeland” (not recognized by any government outside South Africa).

In 1982,  The People’s Republic of China adopts its current constitution.

In 1984,  Sri Lankan Civil War: Sri Lankan Army soldiers kill 107–150 civilians in Mannar.

In 1984,  Hezbollah militants hijack a Kuwait Airlines plane, killing four passengers.

In 1991,  Journalist Terry A. Anderson is released after seven years in captivity as a hostage in Beirut. He is the last and longest-held American hostage in Lebanon.

In 1991,  Captain Mark Pyle pilots Clipper Goodwill, a Pan American World Airways Boeing 727-221ADV, to Miami International Airport, ending 64 years of Pan Am operations.

In 1992,  Somali Civil War: President George H. W. Bush orders 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia in Northeast Africa.

In 1993,  A truce is concluded between the government of Angola and UNITA rebels.

Zappa 16011977 01 300.jpgIn 1993,  Frank Zappa, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (The Mothers of Invention) (b. 1940) dies of prostate cancer. He was an American musician, bandleader, songwriter, composer, recording engineer, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band The Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. While in his teens, he acquired a taste for 20th-century classical composers such as Edgard Varèse, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern, along with 1950s rhythm and blues music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands; he later switched to electric guitar. He was a highly productive and prolific artist and gained widespread critical acclaim. He had some commercial success, particularly in Europe, and worked as an independent artist for most of his career. He also remains a major influence on musicians and composers. Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Zappa was married to Kathryn J. “Kay” Sherman from 1960 to 1964. In 1967, he married Adelaide Gail Sloatman, with whom he remained until his death from prostate cancer in 1993. They had four children: Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 71 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, and in 2011 at No. 22 on its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

In 1998,  The Unity Module, the second module of the International Space Station, is launched.

In 2005,  Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong protest for democracy and call on the government to allow universal and equal suffrage.

PFC Ross McGinnis OSUT Infantry School Photo.jpgIn 2006,  Ross A. McGinnis, American soldier, Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1987) dies. He was a United States Army soldier who was killed in the Iraq War and was posthumously awarded the United States’ highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor. While serving as the gunner in a HMMWV, his convoy was attacked and a hand grenade was thrown into his vehicle. McGinnis was subsequently killed in action when he threw himself on the grenade, saving the lives of at least four other soldiers in the vehicle. He was the fourth soldier to receive the Medal of Honor during the Iraq War, which was presented to his family following his death.

In 2006,  Six black youths assault a white teenager in Jena, Louisiana.

In 2007, Sen. Lamar Alexander has introduced The Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act would provide relief to newly-elected state and local officials who inherit overbroad or outdated consent decrees. The bill would make it easier for state and local governments to modify or terminate federal court consent decrees to which they are a party. Alexander: “Instead of being free to make the policy choices they were elected to make, newly elected officials often find themselves restricted by the motions of plaintiffs’ attorneys and the policy choices of a federal court.” The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the County Executives of America, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National Association of Police Organizations have all asked for legislation limiting consent degrees.

With these league of professional thieves … made me wonder what they were up to.

In 2012,  At least 475 people are killed after Typhoon Bopha makes landfall in the Philippines.

In 2014, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) pledged to shine a light next year on President Obama’s federal loans for green energy, which he called “green payoffs.” Whitfield, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy and power subcommittee, said he was prompted to look into the Energy Department’s loans by a Fox News story alleging that a company applied for a federal grant to pay a federal loan.

In 2014,  The Japanese space agency, JAXA, launches the space explorer Hayabusa 2 from the Tanegashima Space Center on a six-year round trip mission to an asteroid to collect rock samples.

In 2014,  Islamic insurgents kill three state police at a traffic circle before taking an empty school and a “press house” in Grozny. Ten state forces die with 28 injured in gun battles ending with ten insurgents killed.

In 2015,  A firebomb is thrown into a restaurant in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, killing 17 people.

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