Today in History

Today is Thursday, Dec. 15, the 350th day of 2016. There are 16 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, went into effect following ratification by Virginia.

On this date:

In 1814, the “Hartford Convention” began as New England Federalists opposed to the War of 1812 secretly gathered in the Connecticut capital. (America’s victory in the Battle of New Orleans and the war’s end effectively discredited the Convention.)

In 1864, the two-day Battle of Nashville began during the Civil War as Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas attacked Confederate troops led by Gen. John Bell Hood; the result was a resounding Northern victory.

In 1890, Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, South Dakota, during a confrontation with Indian police.

In 1938, groundbreaking for the Jefferson Memorial took place in Washington, D.C. with President Franklin D. Roosevelt taking part in the ceremony.

In 1939, the Civil War motion picture epic “Gone with the Wind,” starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, had its world premiere in Atlanta.

In 1944, a single-engine plane carrying bandleader Glenn Miller, a major in the U.S. Army Air Forces, disappeared over the English Channel while en route to Paris.

In 1965, two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6A and Gemini 7, maneuvered to within 10 feet of each other while in orbit.

In 1966, movie producer Walt Disney died in Los Angeles at age 65.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter announced he would grant diplomatic recognition to Communist China on New Year’s Day and sever official relations with Taiwan.

In 1989, a popular uprising began in Romania that resulted in the downfall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

In 1995, European Union leaders meeting in Madrid, Spain, chose “euro” as the name of the new single European currency.

In 2001, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, was reopened to the public after a $27 million realignment that had dragged on for over a decade.

Ten years ago: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld bid farewell to the Pentagon in a splashy sendoff featuring lavish praise from President George W. Bush. Gov. Jeb Bush suspended Florida executions two days after the prolonged death of a condemned inmate because the needles had been wrongly inserted. (Florida’s moratorium was lifted in July 2007.) Executions in California were effectively put on hold when a federal judge in San Francisco declared the state’s lethal-injection procedure unconstitutional.

Five years ago: The flag used by U.S. forces in Iraq was lowered in a low-key Baghdad airport ceremony marking the end of a war that had left 4,500 Americans and 110,000 Iraqis dead and cost more than $800 billion. The Senate, in an 86-13 vote, joined the House in passing a massive $662 billion defense bill. British-born author, essayist and polemicist Christopher Hitchens, 62, died at a Houston hospital.

One year ago: Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio clashed over U.S. military intervention, government spying on Americans’ communications and immigration as front-runner Donald Trump defended his provocative call for banning Muslims from the United States during a Republican presidential debate held in Las Vegas. In a major policy change, Secretary of State John Kerry accepted Russia’s longstanding demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s future be determined by his own people.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Tim Conway is 83. Singer Cindy Birdsong (The Supremes) is 77. Rock musician Dave Clark (The Dave Clark Five) is 74. Rock musician Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge) is 70. Actor Don Johnson is 67. Actress Melanie Chartoff is 66. Movie director Julie Taymor is 64. Movie director Alex Cox is 62. Actor Justin Ross is 62. Rock musician Paul Simonon (The Clash) is 61. Movie director John Lee Hancock is 60. Acting Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile is 57. Country singer Doug Phelps (Brother Phelps; Kentucky Headhunters) is 56. Movie producer-director Reginald Hudlin is 55. Actress Helen Slater is 53. Actress Molly Price is 51. Actor Garrett Wang is 48. Actor Michael Shanks is 46. Actor Stuart Townsend is 44. Figure skater Surya Bonaly is 43. Actor Geoff Stults is 40. “Crowd-hyper” Kito Trawick (Ghostown DJs) is 39. Actor Adam Brody is 37. Actress Michelle Dockery is 35. Actor George O. Gore II is 34. Actress Camilla Luddington is 33. Rock musician Alana Haim (HYM) is 25. Actress Maude Apatow is 19. Actress Stefania Owen is 19.

Thought for Today: “History is the record of an encounter between character and circumstances.” — Donald Creighton, Canadian historian (1902-1979).

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