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1618 - Poland agreed to truces in its conflicts with both Sweden and Turkey.
1800 - Authorities in Paris uncovered a plot to assassinate Napoleon Bonaparte.
1814 - The War of 1812 between America and Britain ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.
1818 - Oberndorf, Germany's Franz Gruber, composed the music for Silent Night,, whose words were written by Josef Mohr. The following day, Christmas, it was sung for the first time.
1851 - Fire destroyed two-thirds of the 55,000 volumes in the Library of Congress.
1865 - The Ku Klux Klan white supremacy organization was formed in Pulaski, Tennessee.
1867 - On Christmas Eve, R.H. Macy’s department store in New York City stayed open until midnight to get sales from last-minute shoppers. It was a Merry Christmas for Macy's which took in a record $6,000.
1871 - Verdi's magnificent opera, Aida, had its world premier in Cairo, Egypt. The khedive of Egypt commissioned the composer to write the opera as part of the festivities for the Suez Canal's opening.
1889 - Daniel Stover and William Hance of Freeport, Illinois, were up late assembling bicycles for their children when they patented the back pedal brake. Later their invention t would be known as the safety brake, becoming a standard feature on most bikes. Today, there are 18 gears on a bike, and we need two hands brake instead of just pedaling backwards with our feet.
1906 - From Brant Rock, Massachusetts, Professor Reginald A. Fessenden sent his first radio broadcast. The "program" included a verse, some violin music and a speech.
1914 - The first air raid on Britain took place when a German monoplane dropped a single bomb on Dover.
1924 - Notre Dame's football coach, Knute Rockne, said he opposed eliminating the forward pass as it helped "to curb the brutality of football." Rockne's .881, record for the highest winning percentage in Division I-A football, stands today. It was decided not to do away with the forward pass.
1928 - "The Voice of Firestone"'s first broadcast was heard, it would air every Monday night at 8:00. "The Voice of Firestone" became a cornerstone in radio broadcasting; staying with its original night and sponsor, although in 1931 its time changed to 8:30. On September 5, 1949, the program of classical and semiclassical music began runninig on television as well.
1941 - The British Eighth Army recaptured Benghazi, Libya, from the Germans.
1942 - The German research station at Peenemunde successfully tested a new surface-to-surface weapon system. Called the FZG76, it later became better known as the V1 Flying Bomb.
1942 - Francois Darlan, French admiral and a leading figure in the World War II Vichy government, was killed by an anti-Vichy assassin.
1943 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force preparing for the invasion of France.
1944 - The Andrews Sisters starred in "The Andrews Sisters’ Eight-To-The-Bar-Ranch" as it debuted on ABC Radio. For the show, Patty, Maxene and LaVerne ran a fictional dude ranch. Until the show's run ended in 1946, George ‘Gabby’ Hayes was a regular guest along with Vic Schoen’s Orchestra.
1948 - The first television broadcast of a midnight Mass was broadcast. The services originated from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
1948 - In Dover, Massachusetts, the first entirely solar-heated house was occupied by the first solar-heated people.
1950 - Coach Paul Brown had his fifth consecutive pro-football championship win when Lou Groza kicked a field goal in the game's final 20 seconds, allowing the Cleveland Browns to beat the Los Angeles Rams, 30-28.
1951 - Libya declared its independence and proclaimed a monarchy under King Idriss I.
1951 - NBC-TV presented "Amal and the Night Visitors", the first opera written just for television. It would became a Christmas classic.
1953 - Dragnet, starring Jack Webb as Detective Joe Friday, became the first network television show to have a sponsor, Fatima cigarettes.
1953 - In New Zealand, 151 people were killed when an express train crashed into the Whangaehu river.
1955 - The Lennon Sisters debuted as "The Lawrence Welk Show"'s featured singers on ABC. In just a month they became regulars and remained on the show until 1968.
1968 - After their release from North Korea, the crew of the United States Navy ship, "Pueblo", walked across the Bridge of No Return between North and South Korea. The "Pueblo's" captain, Commander Lloyd M. Bucher, and 82 of his crew were held for 11 months after their ship was seized by North Korea as a suspected American spy vessel.
1976 - Takeo Fukuda became Japanese prime minister.
1977 - The Bee Gees' How Deep is Your Love became Number 1 on the music charts, and stayed there for 3 weeks.
1981 - Reggie Jackson chose Christmas Eve to announce he was joining Gene Autry’s California Angels for the 1982 season.
1985 - The Cuban cigar lost status as one of Fidel Castro's trademarks. The president of Cuba announced he was a non-smoker.
1986 - Aurel Cornea, a French television soundman, was released in Beirut by the clandestine pro-Iranian group which had held him for 291 days.
1989 - Following years of physical and verbal abuse inflicted on him as a child by his international film and recording star father Bing Crosby, Lindsay Crosby took his life, reportedly right after watching his father sing White Christmas during the television-airing of the classic Christmas movie, Holiday Inn.
1989 - Deposed Panamanian strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega turned himself in to the pope's envoy in Panama and asked for political asylum.
1992 - President George Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger and five other Reagan aides involved in the Iran-Contra affair.
1994 - Fundamentalist Muslim guerrillas killed two people as they hijacked a French airliner at Algiers airport.
1995 - Thousands of Palestinians gathered at Bethlehem's Manger Square to celebrate the city's first Christmas in 28 years free from Israeli occupation.
1995 - Serb and Muslim armies swapped more than 200 prisoners of war in a Christmas Eve gesture symbolising a new era of Bosnian peace under NATO's biggest military operation.
1995 - The first general election victory by an Islamic party in Turkey's 72-year secular history took place when the Welfare Party received 21.32 percent of the vote.
1997 - Japanese broadcasters agreed to establish guidelines for the production of animated programs to prevent a repeat of the recent incident in which more than 700 children were sent to hospitals following convulsions, seizures, and other symptoms while watching the cartoon series Pocket Monsters, the Tokyo newspaper Nikkei Industrial Daily reported. The guidelines were expected to be published by the end of March 1998.