This Day in History

December 12


627      Battle of Ninevah—Byzantine force defeats Persian army   1390
1098      Ma'arrat al-Numan falls to crusaders who massacre 20,000 inhabitants and then with insufficient food resort to cannibalism   919
1204      Sephardic Jewish philosopher, astronomer, and physician Maimonides dies in Egypt, age 69   813
1685      English mathematician John Pell dies in London, age 74   332
1719      first U.S. newspaper, Boston Gazette published   298
1745      John Jay, first chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, born New York City   272
1781      a small Royal Navy force intercepts and captures a French convoy bringing supplies to the Americans in the Second Battle of Ushant   236
1787      Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the United States Constitution five days after Delaware   230
1849      French-born English engineer Marc Isambard Brunel dies in London, age 80   168
1855      German-Swiss geologist Jean de Charpentier dies, age 69   162
1862      ironclad gunboat USS Cairo becomes first ship sunk by an electrically detonated mine—Yazoo River, no casualties   155
1889      English poet Robert Browning dies in Venice, Italy, age 77   128
1897      comic strip "The Katzenjammer Kids" debuts in The New York Journal—is longest running comic strip   120
1901      Guglielmo Marconi first successfully detects radio signals across the Atlantic   116
1911      during his visit to India George V declares the capital is to be moved back to Delhi from Calcutta   106
1917      Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne derailment is France's worst rail disaster—approximately 700 French soldiers killed   100
1917      Father Edward J. Flanagan founds Boys Town as a farm village for wayward boys in Nebraska   100
1921      Henrietta Swan Leavitt, discoverer of Cepheid variable stars, dies age 53   96
   Happy Birthday, Cathy! 
1941      Battle of Wake Island results in four Japanese ships sunk—first defeat of Japaneses forces in WWII   76
1950      Paula Ackerman, the first woman appointed to perform rabbinical functions in the U.S., leads the congregation in her first services   67
1988      Clapham Junction rail crash in London involving three trains kills 35 and injures nearly 500 others   29
1994      astronaut and Apollo 14 Command Module Pilot Stuart Allen "Stu" Roosa dies Falls Church, Virginia, age 61   23
1997      Soviet mathematician and co-developer of the AVL tree data structure Evgenii Mikhailovich Landis dies, age 76   20
1999      American novelist Joseph Heller dies, age 76   18
1999      American artist Paul Cadmus dies in Weston, Connecticut, age 94   18
2000      U.S. Supreme Court resolves the 2000 presidential election in favor of George Bush in Bush v. Gore   17
2006      American computer engineer Alan Field Shugart dies in Monterey, California, age 76   11
2008      American film and television actor and dancer Charles Van Dell Johnson (Van Johnson) dies in Nyack, New York, age 92   9
2010      China Jinping Underground Laboratory in western China formally inaugurated—deepest lab at 2,400 m (7,900 ft)   7
2012      Pope Benedict XVI posts the first papal tweet   5
2012      announcement of the Hubble observation of the furthest observed galaxy from Earth at 13.29 billion light-years   5
2012      Kwangmyǒngsǒng-3 Unit 2 is first successful launch to orbit by North Korea—satellite does not stabilize   5
2014      American author of children's literature and cartoonist Norman Bridwell dies, age 86   3
2015      women vote in Saudi Arabia for the first time in history   2
2015      Golden State Warriors' NBA record perfect season start of 24-0 comes to an end with a loss to the Bucks   2
2015      in Paris delegates from 196 countries agree to a climate accord that seeks to dramatically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases   2
2016      actress Meryl Streep receives a record Golden Globe 30th nomination—Jack Lemmon is next with 22   1

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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