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This Day in History: December 17

Events

1777 – American Revolution: France formally recognizes the United States.

1790 – Discovery of the Aztec calendar stone.

1812 – War of 1812: U.S. forces attack a Lenape village in the Battle of the Mississinewa.

1835 – Great Fire of New York: Fire levels lower Manhattan.

1862 – American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11, expelling Jews from parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

1896 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Schenley Park Casino, which was the first multi-purpose arena with the technology to create an artificial ice surface in North America, is destroyed in a fire.

1903 – The Wright brothers make the first controlled powered, heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

1941 – World War II: Japanese forces land in Northern Borneo.

1943 – All Chinese are again permitted to become citizens of the United States with the repealing of the Act of 1882 and the introduction of the Magnuson Act.

1944 – World War II: Battle of the Bulge: Malmedy massacre: American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion POWs are shot by Waffen-SS Kampfgruppe Peiper.

1947 – First flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber.

1951 – The American Civil Rights Congress delivers "We Charge Genocide" to the United Nations.

1957 – The United States successfully launches the first Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1969 – The SALT I talks begin.

1969 – Project Blue Book: The United States Air Force closes its study of UFOs.

2003 – SpaceShipOne, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first powered and first supersonic flight.

2014 – The United States and Cuba re-establish diplomatic relations after severing them 55 years ago.

Births

1797 – Joseph Henry, American physicist and engineer (d. 1878)

1807 – John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet and activist (d. 1892)

1835 – Alexander Emanuel Agassiz, Swiss-American ichthyologist and engineer (d. 1910)

1894 – Arthur Fiedler, American conductor (d. 1979)

1906 – Russell C. Newhouse, American pilot and engineer (d. 1998)

1913 – Burt Baskin, American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins (d. 1967)

1929 – William Safire, American journalist and author (d. 2009)

1936 – Pope Francis

1962 – Richard Jewell, American police officer (d. 2007)

1964 – Michele Tafoya, American journalist and sportscaster

Deaths

1928 – Frank Rinehart, American photographer (b. 1861)

2005 – Jack Anderson, American journalist and author (b. 1922)

2011 – Kim Jong-il, North Korean commander and politician, 2nd Supreme Leader of North Korea (b. 1941)

2012 – James Gower, American priest and activist, co-founded the College of the Atlantic (b. 1922)

2012 – Daniel Inouye, American captain and politician (b. 1924)

2013 – Janet Rowley, American geneticist and biologist (b. 1925)

2016     Henry Heimlich, American physician (b. 1920)