December 24th in History

This day in historyDecember 24 is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are seven days remaining until the end of the year. This is it… go get those presents…..



Liang Wudi.jpg

Emperor of the Liang Dynasty

In 502,  Chinese emperor Xiao Yan names Xiao Tong his heir designate.

In 640,  Pope John IV is elected.

In 759,  Tang dynasty poet Du Fu departs for Chengdu, where he is hosted by fellow poet Pei Di.

In 1144,  The capital of the crusader County of Edessa falls to Imad ad-Din Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo.

In 1294,  Pope Boniface VIII is elected, replacing St. Celestine V, who had resigned.

In 1500,  A joint Venetian–Spanish fleet captures the Castle of St. George on the island of Cephalonia.

Retrato de Vasco da Gama.pngIn 1524,  Vasco da Gama, Portuguese explorer (b. 1469) contracted malaria and died in the city of Cochin on Christmas Eve in 1524. He was a Portuguese explorer. He was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by ocean route, as well as the Atlantic and the Indian oceans entirely and definitively, and in this way, the West and the Orient.

This discovery was significant and opened the way for an age of global imperialism and for the Portuguese to establish a long-lasting colonial empire in Asia. The route meant that the Portuguese would not need to cross the highly disputed Mediterranean nor the dangerous Arabian Peninsula, and that the whole voyage would be made by sea. The sum of the distances covered in the outward and return voyages made this expedition the longest ocean voyage ever made until then, far longer than a full voyage around the world by way of the Equator.

One century after the discovery, European powers such as England, the Netherlands and France were finally able to challenge and break Portugal’s monopoly and naval supremacy in the Cape Route around Africa, the Indian ocean and in the Far East, opening a new era of European imperialism in the East.

After decades of sailors trying to reach the Indies with thousands of lives and dozens of vessels lost in shipwrecks and attacks, da Gama landed in Calicut on 20 May 1498. Reaching the legendary Indian spice routes unopposed helped the Portuguese Empire improve its economy that, until da Gama’s discovery, was based mainly on trading along northern and coastal West Africa. The spices obtained were mostly pepper and cinnamon at first, but soon included other products, all new to Europe and leading to a commercial monopoly for several decades.

Da Gama led two of the armadas destined for India, the first and the fourth, which was the largest and made only four years after his return from the first one. For his contributions he was appointed the Governor of India in 1524, under the title of Viceroy, and given the newly created County of Vidigueira in 1519. Vasco da Gama remains a leading figure in the history of exploration to this day. Numerous homages have been made worldwide to celebrate his explorations and accomplishments. The Portuguese national epic, Os Lusíadas, was written in his honour. His first trip to India is widely considered a milestone in world history as it marked the beginning of the first wave of global multiculturalism

In 1737,  The Marathas defeat the combined forces of the Mughal EmpireRajputs of JaipurNizam of HyderabadNawab of Awadh and Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Bhopal.

In 1777,  Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is discovered by James Cook.

In 1800,  The Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise fails to kill Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1814,  The Treaty of Ghent is signed ending the War of 1812.

In 1818,  The first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

In 1826,  The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning.

In 1851,  Library of Congress burns.

William Makepeace Thackeray by Jesse Harrison Whitehurst-crop.jpgIn 1863,  William Makepeace Thackeray, English author and poet (b. 1811) died of a stroke at the age of 52. He was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.

In 1865,  The Ku Klux Klan is formed.

In 1871,  Aida opens in Cairo, Egypt.

Hopkinsp.jpgIn 1873,  Johns Hopkins, American businessman and philanthropist (b. 1795) dies. He was an American entrepreneur, abolitionist and philanthropist of 19th-century Baltimore, Maryland.

His bequests founded numerous institutions bearing his name, most notably Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins University (including its academic divisions such as Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health).

A biography entitled Johns Hopkins: A Silhouette written by his cousin, Helen Hopkins Thom, was published in 1929 by the Johns Hopkins University Press.

In 1906,  Radio: Reginald Fessenden transmits the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.

In 1911,  Lackawanna Cut-Off railway line opens in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In 1913,  The Italian Hall disaster (“1913 Massacre”) in Calumet, Michigan, results in the death of 73 Christmas party goers held by striking mine workers, including 59 children.

In 1914,  World War I: The “Christmas truce” begins.

In 1924,  Albania becomes a republic.

In 1929,  Assassination attempt on Argentine President Hipólito Yrigoyen.

In 1939,  World War II: Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas Eve appeal for peace.

In 1941,  World War II: Kuching is conquered by Japanese forces.

In 1942,  World War II: French monarchist, Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, assassinates Vichy French Admiral François Darlan in Algiers, Algeria.

In 1943,  World War II: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower is named Supreme Allied Commander for the Invasion of Normandy.

In 1951,  Libya becomes independent from Italy. Idris I is proclaimed King of Libya.

In 1953,  Tangiwai disaster: In New Zealand’s North Island, at Tangiwai, a railway bridge is damaged by a lahar and collapses beneath a passenger train, killing 151 people.

In 1955,  NORAD Tracks Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.

In 1964,  Vietnam War: Viet Cong operatives bomb the Brinks Hotel in Saigon, South Vietnam to demonstrate they can strike an American installation in the heavily guarded capital.

In 1966,  A Canadair CL-44 chartered by the United States military crashes into a small village in South Vietnam, killing 129.

Apollo 8 Crewmembers - GPN-2000-001125.jpg

Left to right: Lovell, Anders, Borman

In 1968,  Apollo program: The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed 10 lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures that became the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, one of the most watched programs in history.

In 1969,  Charles Manson is allowed to defend himself at the Tate–LaBianca murder trial.

In 1973,  District of Columbia Home Rule Act is passed, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to elect their own local government.

In 1974,  Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Australia.

In 1979,  The first European Ariane rocket is launched.

In 1980,  Witnesses report the first of several sightings of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge, in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom, an incident called “Britain’s Roswell“.

In 1984,  Peter Lawford, (born Peter Sydney Ernest Aylen; September 7, 1923 – December 24, 1984) was an English-born American actor. He was a member of the “Rat Pack” and brother-in-law to President John F. Kennedy, and more noted in later years for his off-screen activities as a celebrity than for his acting. In the 1940s to the 1960s he had a strong presence in popular culture and starred in a number of highly acclaimed films.

In 1994,  Air France Flight 8969 is hijacked on the ground at Houari Boumediene Airport, Algiers, Algeria. Over the course of 3 days 3 passengers are killed, as are all 4 terrorists.

In 1997,  The Sid El-Antri massacre (or Sidi Lamri) in Algeria kills 50-100 people.

In 1999,  Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacked in Indian airspace between Kathmandu, Nepal, and Delhi, India; aircraft eventually landed at Kandahar, Afghanistan. Ordeal ended on December 31 with the release of 190 survivors (1 passenger killed).

In 2000,  The Texas Seven hold up a sports store in Irving, Texas. Police officer Aubrey Hawkins is murdered during the robbery.

In 2003,  The Spanish police thwart an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid‘s busy Chamartín Station.

In 2005,  Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declares a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.

In 2008,  Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks on Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400.

In 2009, The City of Jackson TN provided the closing attorney a check for $824,473.51 to buy back the parking garage lots with improvements. (The increase in price from about $815,000, to the above amount, is in referral to interest payments that the city agreed to pay Mr. Allen for the property. To this date the property has not been completely filled in. I would hope the attorney would hold payment until that is completed as specified in the agreement. Why do I think that not likely?) Quite the improvement over the $125,000 that the city received in payment when it sold to Mr. Allen and Associates. 

In 2009, Jackson TN, UCR Crime Stats for January through November 2009 versus same period in 2008 include: 

2009  2008

Murder                               12       6

Rape                                   24      25

Robbery                            172     225

Agg Assault                      375     404

Burglary                          1045      936

Theft                                2721     2943

Motor Vehicle Thefts     270      384

Total                               4,619    4,923

In 2013, A federal appeals court on Sunday rejected Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s request for an emergency stay to prevent officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a lower-court judge ruled Utah’s gay-marriage ban unconstitutional. The state will ask the original judge to stay his own ruling on Monday as it pushes its appeal, arguing that gay couples rushing to get wed will be harmed if their marriages are later invalidated. [Reuters, Salt Lake Tribune]

In 2013, Broken hearts were mended after a New Jersey commercial fisherman lost $12,000 in cash he had saved to buy an engagement ring. His backpack had a faulty zipper and the money fell out as he rode his motorcycle to the docks. Much of the loose cash was scooped up, but after the story came out, good Samaritans returned it to him.

In 2015, The city of San Antonio  offered state-of-the-art cameras and high-tech television studios to residents. For free. A $15 million downtown facility is available without charge to city residents to produce programs for the San Antonio Community Access Network. Content includes arts, music, cultural, comedy, youth and religious programming. Even politics and sex.


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