December 12th in History

This day in historyDecember 12 is the 346th day of the year (347th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 19 days remaining until the end of the year.



In 627,  Battle of Nineveh: A Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius defeats Emperor Khosrau II‘s Persian forces, commanded by General Rhahzadh.

In 884,  King Carloman II dies after a hunting accident. He is succeeded by his cousin, emperor Charles the Fat, who for the last time reunites the Frankish Empire.

In 1098,  First Crusade: Siege of Ma’arrat al-Numan – Crusaders breach the town’s walls and massacre about 20,000 inhabitants. After finding themselves with insufficient food, they reportedly resort to cannibalism.

In 1388,  Mary of Enghien sells the lordship of Argos and Nauplia to the Republic of Venice.

In 1408,  The Order of the Dragon a monarchical chivalric order is created by Sigismund of Luxembourg, then King of Hungary.

In 1781,  American Revolutionary War: Second Battle of Ushant – A British fleet led by HMS Victory defeats a French fleet.

In 1787,  Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the United States Constitution, five days after Delaware became the first.

In 1862,  USS Cairo sinks on the Yazoo River, becoming the first armored ship to be sunk by an electrically detonated mine.

In 1870,  Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina becomes the second black U.S. congressman, the first being Hiram Revels.

Robert Browning by Herbert Rose Barraud c1888.jpgIn 1889,  Robert Browning, English poet and playwright (b. 1812) died at his son’s home Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice. He was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.

Browning’s early career began promisingly, but was not a success. The long poem Pauline brought him to the attention of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and was followed by Paracelsus, which was praised by William Wordsworth and Charles Dickens, but in 1840 the difficult Sordello, which was seen as wilfully obscure, brought his poetry into disrepute. His reputation took more than a decade to recover, during which time he moved away from the Shelleyan forms of his early period and developed a more personal style.

In 1846 Browning married the older poet Elizabeth Barrett, who at the time was considerably better known than himself. So started one of the famous literary marriages. They went to live in Italy, a country he called “my university”, and which features frequently in his work. By the time of her death in 1861, he had published the crucial collection Men and Women. The collection Dramatis Personae and the book-length epic poem The Ring and the Book followed, and made him a leading British poet. He continued to write prolifically, but his reputation today rests largely on the poetry he wrote in this middle period.

Browning is now popularly known for such poems as Porphyria’s LoverMy Last DuchessHow They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix, and The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and also for certain famous lines: “Grow old along with me!” (Rabbi Ben Ezra), “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp” and “Less is more” (Andrea Del Sarto), “It was roses, roses all the way” (The Patriot), and “God’s in His heaven—All’s right with the world!” (Pippa Passes).

In 1897,  Belo Horizonte, the first planned city in Brazil, is founded.

In 1900, A sketch by Dr. M. V. Lynk, Jackson’s first black physician, appeared in a special edition of the Jackson Sun. Dr. Lynk also founded the University of West Tennessee as one of the only six universities and medical schools founded by Negroes in the entire United states. Dr. Lynk was also a lawyer dentist, and teacher aside from being a physician.

In 1901,  Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic radio signal (the letter “S” [***] in Morse Code), at Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland.

In 1911,  Delhi replaces Calcutta as the capital of India.

In 1911,  King George V and Mary of Teck are enthroned as Emperor and Empress of India.

In 1915,  President of the Republic of China, Yuan Shikai, announces his intention to reinstate the monarchy and proclaim himself Emperor of China.

In 1917,  In Nebraska, Father Edward J. Flanagan founds Boys Town as a farm village for wayward boys.

In 1918,  The Flag of Estonia is raised atop the Pikk Hermann for the first time.

In 1925,  The Majlis of Iran votes to crown Reza Khan as the new Shah of Iran, starting the Pahlavi dynasty.

Goodnite.jpgIn 1929,  Charles Goodnight, American cattle rancher (b. 1836) dies. He was a cattle rancher in the American West, perhaps the best known rancher in Texas. He is sometimes known as the “father of the Texas Panhandle.” Essayist and historian J. Frank Dobie said that Goodnight “approached greatness more nearly than any other cowman of history.” Goodnight was born in Macoupin County, Illinois, northeast of St. Louis, Missouri, the fourth child of Charles Goodnight and the former Charlotte Collier. Goodnight’s father’s grave is located in a pasture south of Bunker Hill, Illinois. Goodnight moved to Texas in 1846 with his mother and stepfather, Hiram Daugherty. In 1856, he became a cowboy and served with the local militia, fighting against Comanche raiders. A year later, in 1857, Goodnight joined the Texas Rangers. Goodnight is also known for rousing and leading a posse against the Comanche in 1860 that located the Indian camp where Cynthia Ann Parker was living with her husband, Peta Nocona, then guiding Texas Rangers to the camp, leading to Cynthia Ann’s recapture. He later made a treaty with her son, Quanah Parker. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the Confederate States Army. Most of his time was spent as part of a frontier regiment guarding against raids by Indians. Goodnight described what it took to become a scout, “First, he must be a born a natural woodsmen and have the faculty of never needing a compass except in snow storms or darkness.”

Following the war, he became involved in the herding of feral Texas Longhorn cattle northward from West Texas to railroads. This “making the gather” was a near state-wide round-up of cattle that had roamed free during the four long years of war. In 1866, he and Oliver Loving drove their first herd of cattle northward along what would become known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail. Early in the partnership with Loving, they pastured cattle at such sites as Capulin Mountain in northeastern New Mexico. Goodnight invented the chuckwagon, which was first used on the initial cattle drive. Upon arriving in New Mexico, they formed a partnership with New Mexico cattleman John Chisum for future contracts to supply the United States Army with cattle. After Loving’s death, Goodnight and Chisum extended the trail from New Mexico to Colorado, and eventually to Wyoming. The Goodnight-Loving trail extended from Belknap, Texas, to Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

In 1935,  Lebensborn Project, a Nazi reproduction program, is founded by Heinrich Himmler. The project was an SS-initiated, state-supported, registered association in Nazi Germany with the goal of raising the birth rate of “Aryan” children via extramarital relations of persons classified as “racially pure and healthy” based on Nazi racial hygiene and health ideology. Lebensborn encouraged anonymous births by unmarried women, and mediated adoption of these children by likewise “racially pure and healthy” parents, particularly SS members and their families.

In 1936,  Xi’an Incident: The Generalissimo of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, is kidnapped by Zhang Xueliang.

In 1937,  Second Sino-Japanese War: USS Panay incidentJapanese aircraft bomb and sink U.S. gunboat USS Panay on the Yangtze River in China.

In 1939,  Winter War: Battle of TolvajärviFinnish forces defeat those of the Soviet Union in their first major victory of the conflict.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. - Private Life of Don Juan.jpgIn 1939,  Douglas Fairbanks, American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1883) dies. He was an American actor, screenwriter, director, and producer. He was best known for his swashbuckling roles in silent films such as The Thief of Bagdad, Robin Hood, and The Mark of Zorro but spent the early part of his career making comedies.

An astute businessman, Fairbanks was a founding member of United Artists. Fairbanks was also a founding member of The Motion Picture Academy and hosted the first Oscars Ceremony in 1929. With his marriage to Mary Pickford in 1920, the couple became Hollywood royalty and Fairbanks was referred to as “The King of Hollywood”, a nickname later passed on to actor Clark Gable. His career rapidly declined however with the advent of the “talkies“. His final film was The Private Life of Don Juan (1934).

In 1939,  HMS Duchess sinks after a collision with HMS Barham off the coast of Scotland with the loss of 124 men.

In 1940,  World War II: Approximately 70 people are killed in the Marples Hotel, Fitzalan Square, Sheffield, as a result of a German air raid.

In 1941,  World War II: Fifty-four Japanese A6M Zero fighters raid Batangas Field, Philippines. Jesús Villamor and four Filipino fighter pilots fend them off; César Basa is killed.

In 1941,  World War II: USMC F4F “Wildcats” sink the first 4 major Japanese ships off Wake Island.

In 1941,  World War II: The United Kingdom declares war on Bulgaria. Hungary and Romania declare war on the United States. India declares war on Japan.

In 1941,  Adolf Hitler declares the imminent extermination of the Jews at a meeting in the Reich Chancellery

In 1942,  World War II: German troops begin Operation Winter Storm, an attempt to relieve encircled Axis forces during the Battle of Stalingrad.

In 1942,  A fire in a hostel in St. John’s, Newfoundland, kills 100 people.

In 1946,  A fire at a New York City ice plant spreads to a nearby tenement, killing 37 people.

In 1948,  Malayan Emergency: Batang Kali Massacre – 14 members of the Scots Guards stationed in Malaya allegedly massacre 24 unarmed civilians and set fire to the village.

In 1950,  Paula Ackerman, the first woman appointed to perform rabbinical functions in the United States, leads the congregation in her first services.

In 1956,  Beginning of the Irish Republican Army‘s “Border Campaign“.

In 1958,  Guinea joins the United Nations.

In 1963,  Kenya gains its independence from the United Kingdom.

In 1964,  Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta becomes the first President of the Republic of Kenya.

In 1969,  Years of Lead: Piazza Fontana bombing – The offices of Banca Nazionale dell’Agricoltura in Piazza Fontana, Milan, are bombed.

In 1979,  Coup d’état of December Twelfth: South Korean Army Major General Chun Doo-hwan orders the arrest of Army Chief of Staff General Jeong Seung-hwa without authorization from President Choi Kyu-ha, alleging involvement in the assassination of ex-President Park Chung Hee.

In 1979,  President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq confers Nishan-e-Imtiaz on Nobel laureate Dr Abdus Salam.

In 1979,  The unrecognised state of Zimbabwe Rhodesia returns to British control and resumes using the name Southern Rhodesia.

In 1983,  The Australian Labor government led by Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating floats the Australian dollar.

In 1984,  Maaouiya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya becomes the third president of Mauritania after a coup d’état against Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla while the latter is attending a summit.

In 1985,  Arrow Air Flight 1285, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8, crashes after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland, killing all 256 people on board, including 236 members of the United States Army‘s 101st Airborne Division.

In 1988,  The Clapham Junction rail crash kills thirty-five and injures hundreds after two collisions of three commuter trains—one of the worst train crashes in the United Kingdom.

In 1991,  The Russian Federation gains independence from the USSR.

In 2000,  The United States Supreme Court releases its decision in Bush v. Gore.

In 2001,  Prime Minister of Vietnam Phan Văn Khải announces the decision on upgrading Phong Nha–Kẻ Bàng to the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, providing information on projects for the conservation and development of the park and revised maps.

In 2012,  North Korea successfully launches its first satellite, Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2, using a Unha-3 carrier rocket.

In 2012,  12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief took place at Madison Square Garden and was broadcast on 20 international television networks to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

In 2013, The head of the Lane College National Alumni Association has been dropped from the school’s board of trustees, but no one is discussing what led to the dismissal. The decision was made during a trustees meeting held earlier this month. Members voted to change the bylaws to eliminate the seat held by Alumni Association President LaSimba Gray and select replacement alumni members to fill the vacancy.

Tom Laughlin in 1978

In 2013,  Tom Laughlin, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1931) dies of complications from pneumonia on December 12, 2013 at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California. He was an American actor and director, screenwriter, author, educator and political activist. Laughlin was best known for his series of Billy Jack films. He was married to actress Delores Taylor from 1954 until his death. Taylor co-produced and acted in all four of the Billy Jack films. His unique promotion of The Trial of Billy Jack (TV trailers during national news and an “opening day” nationwide release) was a major influence on the way films are marketed. In the early 1960s, Laughlin put his film career on hiatus to start a Montessori preschool in Santa Monica, California; it became the largest school of its kind in the United States. In his later years, he sought the office of President of the United States in 1992, 2004, and 2008. He was involved in psychology and domestic abuse counseling, writing several books on Jungian psychology and developing theories on the causes of cancer.

In 2014, FCC Ups Phone Tax To Subsidize Internet, Also Wants To Expand Obamaphone Program. The Federal Communications Commission will spend another $1.5 billion a year on “high-speed Internet in schools and libraries,” relying on a tax increase to fund it. FCC Republicans aren’t actually opposed to the measure. Their argument is that the spending increase should come from eliminating waste and abuse elsewhere within the system. The commission’s three Democrats argued that the step will ensure that students have access to the online tools they need to prepare for the jobs of the future. According to the FCC, two-thirds of U.S. schools, serving 40 million students, don’t have adequate Internet connections.

In 2014, Dozens of congressional staff members staged a walkout on Thursday to protest grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City not to indict white police officers who killed unarmed black men. The protesters included members of the Congressional Black Associates. The participants prayed on the Capitol steps, and held up their hands, referencing the protests of the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson in August. [Reuters]

In 2015,  Paris Agreement relating to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is adopted.

In 2017,  Doug Jones wins the heavily duel party influenced 2017 US Senate special election in Alabama, becoming the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama since 1992.

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