Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 18, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect by Secretary of State William H. Seward.
On this date:
In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, whose first wife, Ellen, had died the year before, married Edith Bolling Galt, a widow, at her Washington home.
In 1917, Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” and sent it to the states for ratification.
In 1940, Adolf Hitler signed a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. (Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941.)
In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the government’s wartime evacuation of people of Japanese descent from the West Coast while at the same time ruling that “concededly loyal” Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.
In 1956, Japan was admitted to the United Nations.
In 1957, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States, went on line. (It was taken out of service in 1982.)
In 1987, Ivan F. Boesky was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a major Wall Street insider-trading scandal. (Boesky served about two years of his sentence).
In 1998, the House debated articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton. South Carolina carried out the nation’s 500th execution since capital punishment resumed in 1977.
In 2000, the Electoral College cast its ballots, with President-elect George W. Bush receiving the expected 271; Al Gore, however, received 266, one fewer than expected, because of a District of Columbia Democrat who’d left her ballot blank to protest the district’s lack of representation in Congress.
In 2003, two federal appeals courts ruled the U.S. military could not indefinitely hold prisoners without access to lawyers or American courts.
In 2008, W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who’d revealed himself as “Deep Throat” three decades after the Watergate scandal, died in Santa Rosa, Calif., at age 95.
In 2018, the Trump administration banned bump stocks, the firearm attachments that allowed semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns, and gave gun owners until late March to turn in or destroy the devices. The president authorized the Defense Department to create a new Space Command, an effort to better organize and advance the military’s operations in space.
Ten years ago: The U.S. Senate approved repeal of the military’s 17-year “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay troops in a 65-31 vote. (President Barack Obama later signed it into law.) Skier Lindsey Vonn was named the 2010 Female Athlete of the Year as chosen by members of The Associated Press.
Five years ago: Congress ended a chaotic year on a surprising note of bipartisan unity and productivity as it overwhelmingly approved a massive 2016 tax and spending package and sent it to President Barack Obama, who promptly signed it. United Nations Security Council members unanimously approved a resolution endorsing a peace process for Syria.
One year ago: The U.S. House impeached President Donald Trump on two charges, sending his case to the Senate for trial; the articles of impeachment accused him of abusing the power of the presidency to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election and then obstructing Congress’ investigation. At a Michigan rally that took place as the House voted to impeach him, a defiant Trump declared that the vote was a “suicide march” for the Democratic Party. Trump also suggested that the late Democratic Rep. John Dingell was “looking up,” rather than down, from beyond the grave; some Republicans joined Democrats in calling for an apology.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Cicely Tyson is 96. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is 93. Actor Roger Mosley is 82.
Rock musician Keith Richards is 77. Writer-director Alan Rudolph is 77. Movie producer-director Steven Spielberg is 74. Blues artist Rod Piazza is 73. Movie director Gillian Armstrong is 70. Movie reviewer Leonard Maltin is 70. Rock musician Elliot Easton is 67. Actor Ray Liotta is 66. Comedian Ron White is 64. R&B singer Angie Stone is 59. Actor Brad Pitt is 57. Professional wrestler-turned-actor “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is 56. Actor Shawn Christian is 55. Actor Rachel Griffiths is 52. Singer Alejandro Sanz is 52. Actor Casper Van Dien is 52. Country/rap singer Cowboy Troy is 50. Rapper DMX is 50. International Tennis Hall of Famer Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is 49. DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit) is 48. Pop singer Sia is 45. Country singer Randy Houser is 44. Actor Josh Dallas is 42. Actor Katie Holmes is 42. Actor Ravi Patel is 42. Singer Christina Aguilera is 40. Actor Ashley Benson is 31. NHL defenseman Victor Hedman is 30. Actor-singer Bridgit Mendler is 28. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. is 23. Electro-pop singer Billie Eilish is 19. Actor Isabella Crovetti is 16.