Today in History
Today is Sunday, Dec. 18, the 352nd day of 2022. There are 13 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 18, 2019, 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 rival Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election and then obstructing Congress’ investigation. (It was the first of two Trump impeachment trials that would end in acquittal by the Senate.)
On this date:
In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect by Secretary of State William H. Seward.
In 1892, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia; although now considered a classic, it received a generally negative reception from critics.
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 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 1958, the world’s first communications satellite, SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment), nicknamed “Chatterbox,” was launched by the United States aboard an Atlas rocket.
In 1969, Britain’s House of Lords joined the House of Commons in making permanent a 1965 ban on the death penalty for murder.
In 1992, Kim Young-sam was elected South Korea’s first civilian president in three decades.
In 2003, two federal appeals courts ruled the U.S. military could not indefinitely hold prisoners without access to lawyers or American courts.
In 2009, James Cameron’s “Avatar” starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver, released in the US, becomes highest-grossing film of all time.
In 2011, the last convoy of heavily armored U.S. troops left Iraq, crossing into Kuwait in darkness in the final moments of a nine-year war. Vaclav Havel, 75, the dissident playwright who became Czechoslovakia’s first democratically elected president, died in the northern Czech Republic.
In 2020, the U.S. added a second COVID-19 vaccine to its arsenal, as the Food and Drug Administration authorized an emergency rollout of the vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health; a vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech was already being dispensed.
Ten years ago: Classes resumed in Newtown, Connecticut, except at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scene of a massacre four days earlier. Two bank robbers pulled off a daring escape from downtown Chicago’s high-rise jail by scaling down 17 stories using a makeshift rope. (Kenneth Conley and Jose Banks were later recaptured.) Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to be voted The Associated Press Player of the Year in college football.
Five years ago: An Amtrak train making the first-ever run along a faster route hurtled off an overpass south of Seattle and spilled some of its cars onto the highway below; three people were killed and dozens were hurt. (Investigators found that the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.) A fire and blackout at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest, forced the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights just days before the start of the Christmas rush; airlines said some of the grounded travelers would have to wait days before there would be available seats on flights. The Los Angeles Lakers retired numbers 8 and 24, both of the jersey numbers worn by Kobe Bryant, the leading scorer in franchise history.
One year ago: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said all of the people reported missing in Kentucky after tornadoes swept through the state a week earlier had been accounted for; more than 90 people were confirmed dead in five states, including 81 in Kentucky. Nations across Europe moved to reimpose tougher measures to stem a new wave of COVID-19 infections spurred by the highly transmissible omicron variant, with the Netherlands leading the way by imposing a nationwide lockdown. “Saturday Night Live” aired without a live audience, and with only limited cast and crew, due to a recent spike in the omicron variant.
Today’s Birthdays: Rock musician Keith Richards is 79. Writer-director Alan Rudolph is 79. Movie producer-director Steven Spielberg is 76. Blues artist Rod Piazza is 75. Movie director Gillian Armstrong is 72. Movie reviewer Leonard Maltin is 72. Rock musician Elliot Easton is 69. Comedian Ron White is 66. R&B singer Angie Stone is 61. Actor Brad Pitt is 59. Professional wrestler-turned-actor “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is 58. Actor Shawn Christian is 57. Actor Rachel Griffiths is 54. Singer Alejandro Sanz is 54. Actor Casper Van Dien is 54. Country/rap singer Cowboy Troy is 52. International Tennis Hall of Famer Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is 51. DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit) is 50. Pop singer Sia is 47. Country singer Randy Houser is 46. Actor Josh Dallas is 44. Actor Katie Holmes is 44. Actor Ravi Patel is 44. Singer Christina Aguilera is 42. Actor Ashley Benson is 33. NHL defenseman Victor Hedman is 32. Actor-singer Bridgit Mendler is 30. MLB outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. is 25.
Electro-pop singer Billie Eilish is 21. Actor Isabella Crovetti is 18.