This Day In History – December

December 1
Tehran Conference
In 1943, during World War II, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin ended a meeting in Tehran. This was one of several meetings held by the leaders of the “big three” allied nations united against the Axis. During this meeting the three leaders discussed a variety of major topics, such as the scope and timing of the invasion of France and the creation of the United Nations.
December 2
Monroe Doctrine Declared
In 1823 U.S. President James Monroe issued a foreign policy statement know as the Monroe Doctrine. In his annual message to Congress Monroe declared that the United States would oppose any further colonization in the Americas or any effort by European nations to extend their political systems outside of their own hemisphere. He also pledged that America would not involve itself in the internal affairs of Europe. Monroe envisioned a North and South America composed of independent republics.
December 4
The Grange Founded
In 1867 the Grange movement was organized to aid farmers. The original goal of this organization was to aid farmers by establishing cooperative stores, grain elevators, warehouses, insurance, and equipment.  It also provided social, cultural and educational activities for its members. It grew rapidly and by 1875 the Grange had 20,000 local chapters with 800,000 members in the Midwest and South.
December 7
Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor
In 1941 Japan launched an aerial assault on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This attack came after years of deteriorating relations as the United States firmly opposed Japan’s expansion and domination of East Asia. Days earlier U.S. military intelligence concluded that an attack on U.S. forces was likely, but few expected Pearl Harbor to be the target. This attack brought America into World War II against the Axis powers.
December 10
England’s Glorious Revolution Begins
In 1688 English King James II fled London after being forced off the throne by the nobility. James was despised because he was Catholic, and because he openly tried to establish a French style absolute monarchy. He was succeeded by William II and Mary II. This event is a milestone in British history because it represents the superiority of Parliament over the crown.
December 11
Russia Invades Chechnya
In 1994 Russian forces invaded Chechnya, a rebellious Russian province on the Caspian Sea. Although it is a distinct cultural and political territory, Chechnya was not officially one of the fifteen Soviet Republics. Thus, it did not gain independence when the Soviet Union collapsed. The Chechens bitterly fought the Russians, and an uneasy truce was negotiated in 1997. Russia again invaded in 1999.  The war currently shows few signs of ending.
December 13
Dickens Publishes A Christmas Carol
In 1843 Charles Dickens published “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens came from humble origins, and as a young man he worked for a newspaper reporting the proceedings of Parliament. He grew critical of British leadership and the upper classes, and began to call for widespread social reform. Most of his stories address class inequality.  “A Christmas Carol” was an instant success, selling more than six thousand copies by Christmas.
December 15
“Bill of Rights” Ratified
In 1791 the “Bill of Rights” went into effect when Virginia became the tenth state to ratify the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These ten amendments, which primarily address individual liberties, were inspired from Virginia’s “Declaration of Rights,” written by George Mason in 1776. The bill was supported by Anti-Federalists, who feared that the new Constitution would place too much power in the hands of the federal government.
December 16
New Madrid Earthquake
In 1811 the first of a series of earthquakes hit the Mississippi River valley in Missouri. These were the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history. The first quake was an estimated 8.6 on the Richter Scale. As a result of the quakes, the Mississippi River briefly flowed backward, creating what is now Reelfoot Lake.  Because the area was sparsely settled these quakes caused few casualties, but they did knock down houses and destroy more than one hundred fifty thousand acres of forests.
December 18
Franklin Publishes Poor Richard’s Almanac
In 1732 Benjamin Franklin Poor Richard’s Almanac. This book of tips for wise living became one of the most popular publications of the colonial era. It also made Franklin famous throughout the American Colonies. Franklin was an avid publisher as well as a successful inventor.  Among his numerous accomplishments is the publishing of “The Pennsylvania Gazette,” and printing currency for the Colony of Pennsylvania.
December 20
U.S. Acquires Louisiana
In 1803 the United States formally took over the Louisiana Territory from France. The United States had purchased the vast territory for the remarkably low sun of fifteen million dollars. Napoleon Bonaparte, then ruler of France, sold the territory for a variety of reasons. Primarily he needed the money, and the territory was largely indefensible. Louisiana had belonged to both France and Spain. In fact Napoleon acquired it from Spain just before selling it to the U.S.
December 23
Transistor Invented
In 1947 three scientists: Walter H. Brattain, William Shockley, and John Bardeen, announced the invention of the transistor. Transistors are devices that allow for electrical amplification and switching. Although most people do not understand their purpose, the transistor is probably the most important invention since the wheel. Transistors are the foundation of microprocessors, which play a role in virtually every aspect of modern life.
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