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This Day in History: December 26

Events

1776 – American Revolutionary War: In the Battle of Trenton, the Continental Army attacks and successfully defeats a garrison of Hessian forces .

1799 – Four thousand people attend George Washington's funeral where Henry Lee III declares him as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

1811 – A theater fire in Richmond, Virginia kills the Governor of Virginia George William Smith and the president of the First National Bank of Virginia Abraham B. Venable.

1846 – Trapped in snow in the Sierra Nevadas and without food, members of the Donner Party resort to cannibalism.

1861 – American Civil War: The Trent Affair: Confederate diplomatic envoys James M. Mason and John Slidell are freed by the United States government, thus heading off a possible war between the United States and United Kingdom.

1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou begins.

1862 – Four nuns serving as volunteer nurses on board USS Red Rover are the first female nurses on a U.S. Navy hospital ship.

1862 – The largest mass-hanging in U.S. history took place in Mankato, Minnesota, 38 Native Americans died.

1871 – Gilbert and Sullivan collaborate for the first time, on their lost opera, Thespis. It does modestly well, but the two would not collaborate again for four years.

1919 – Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox is sold to the New York Yankees by owner Harry Frazee, allegedly establishing the Curse of the Bambino superstition.

1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

1943 – World War II: German warship Scharnhorst is sunk off of Norway's North Cape after a battle against major Royal Navy forces.

1944 – World War II: George S. Patton's Third Army breaks the encirclement of surrounded U.S. forces at Bastogne, Belgium.

1963 – The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There" are released in the United States, marking the beginning of Beatlemania on an international level.

1966 – The first Kwanzaa is celebrated by Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.

1972 – Vietnam War: As part of Operation Linebacker II, 120 American B-52 Stratofortress bombers attacked Hanoi, including 78 launched from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the largest single combat launch in Strategic Air Command history.

1982 – Time's Man of the Year is for the first time a non-human, the personal computer.

1996 – Six-year-old beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey is found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado.

1998 – Iraq announces its intention to fire upon U.S. and British warplanes that patrol the northern and southern no-fly zones.

Births

1819 – E. D. E. N. Southworth, American author and educator (d. 1899)

1837 – George Dewey, American admiral (d. 1917)

1891 – Henry Miller, American author and painter (d. 1980)

1905 – William Loeb III, American publisher (d. 1981)

1907 – Albert Gore, Sr., American lawyer and politician (d. 1998)

1921 – Steve Allen, American actor, singer, talk show host, an2d screenwriter (d. 2000)

1939 – Phil Spector, American singer-songwriter and producer

1945 – John Walsh, American television host, producer, and activist, created America's Most Wanted

Deaths

1909 – Frederic Remington, American painter and illustrator (b. 1861)

1931 – Melvil Dewey, American librarian and educator, created the Dewey Decimal Classification (b. 1851)

1963 – Gorgeous George, American wrestler (b. 1915)

1972 – Harry S. Truman, American colonel and politician, 33rd President of the United States (b. 1884)

1974 – Jack Benny, American comedian, vaudevillian, actor, and violinist (b. 1894)

2006 – Gerald Ford, American commander, lawyer, and politician, 38th President of the United States (b. 1913)