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On December 15th...
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1488 Bartolomeu Dias returned to Portugal after having become the first known European to sail around the Cape of Good Hope.
1593 The State of Holland granted a patent for a windmill with a crankshaft.
1612 Simon Marius became the first person to observe the Andromeda Galaxy through a telescope.
1640 The Duke of Braganca was crowned King Johan IV of Portugal.
1791 The Bill of Rights
1792 The first life insurance policy in the United States was issued in Philadelphia.
1794 France abolished the Revolutionary Tribunal.
1832 Engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel was born.
1852 Physicist Antoine-Henri Becquerel was born.
1864 The Battle of Nashville (Tennessee) was fought.
1877 Thomas Edison filed a patent for a phonograph.
1888 Playwright Maxwell Anderson was born.
1890 Lakota Chief Sitting Bull was shot and killed by a policeman sent to arrest him.
1892 Businessman J. Paul Getty was born.
1911 Jazz musician Stan Kenton was born.
1914 The American Radio Relay League was founded.
1916 French forces defeated German forces at the Battle of Verdun.
1917 The Moldavian Republic declared its independence from Russia.
1918 The American Jewish Congress held its first meeting.
1922 Disc jockey Alan Freed was born.
1929 Walter Mittelholzer became the first person to fly over Mount Kilimanjaro.
1933 Comedian Tim Conway was born.
1939 Gone with the Wind premiered in Atlanta, Georgia.
1941 The USS Swordfish became the first U.S. submarine to sink a Japanese ship.
1942 Musician Dave Clark was born.
1943 Jazz pianist Fats Waller died.
The U.S. Congress gave General Dwight D. Eisenhower his fifth star.
1949 Actor Don Johnson was born.
1950 New York City's Port Authority opened.
1952 Christine Jorgenson became the first person to undergo a sex-change operation.
1960 King Baudouin of Belgium married Doņa Fabiola de Mora y Aragon in Brussels.
1962 Actor Charles Laughton died.
Dickenson Bay Agreement was signed by several Caribbean
nations, establishing the Caribbean Free Trade
Audouin Dollfus photographically discovered a
"new" satellite of Saturn.
1967 The Silver Bridge, connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Gallipolis, Ohio, collapsed while it was full of rush-hour traffic and plunged into the Ohio River, killing 46 persons.
1969 The Plastic Ono Band played its only concert, at London's Lyceum Ballroom.
1970 Venera 7 became the first man-made object to land on another planet (Venus).
1973 The American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality is not a mental illness.
1976 The oil tanker Argo Merchant ran aground on the Nantucket Shoals off Massachusetts and spilled 7.6 million gallons of fuel oil.
2005 Former U.S. Senator William Proxmire died.
2009 Evangelist Oral Roberts died.
2010 Film director Blake Edwards died.
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This page was last updated on December 15, 2017.