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This Day in History: December 15


1778 – American Revolutionary War: British and French fleets clash in the Battle of St. Lucia.

1791 – The United States Bill of Rights becomes law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Nashville: Union forces under George Thomas almost completely destroy the Army of Tennessee under John Hood.

1890 – Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull is killed on Standing Rock Indian Reservation, leading to the Wounded Knee Massacre.

1933 – The Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution officially becomes effective, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment that prohibited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol.

1939 – Gone with the Wind (highest inflation adjusted grossing film) receives its premiere at Loew's Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

1941 – The Holocaust: German troops murder over 15,000 Jews at Drobytsky Yar, a ravine southeast of the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Soviet Union.

1942 – World War II: The Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign.

1943 – World War II: The Battle of Arawe begins during the New Britain campaign.

1945 – Occupation of Japan: General Douglas MacArthur orders that Shinto be abolished as the state religion of Japan.

1946 – U.S.-backed Iranian troops evict the leadership of the breakaway Republic of Mahabad, putting an end to the Iran crisis of 1946.

1960 – Richard Pavlick is arrested for plotting to assassinate U.S. President-Elect John F. Kennedy.

1961 – Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death after being found guilty by an Israeli court of 15 criminal charges, including charges of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership of an outlawed organization.

1965 – Project Gemini: Gemini 6A, crewed by Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford, is launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. Four orbits later, it achieves the first space rendezvous, with Gemini 7.

1967 – The Silver Bridge over the Ohio River collapses, killing 46 people.

1973 – John Paul Getty III, grandson of American billionaire J. Paul Getty, is found alive near Naples, Italy, after being kidnapped by an Italian gang on July 10.

1973 – The American Psychiatric Association votes 13–0 to remove homosexuality from its official list of psychiatric disorders, the DSM-II.

1976 – The oil tanker MV Argo Merchant runs aground near Nantucket, Massachusetts, causing one of the worst marine oil spills in history.

1978 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter announces that the United States will recognize the People's Republic of China and sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan


1861 – Charles Duryea, American engineer and businessman, co-founded the Duryea Motor Wagon Company (d. 1938)

1888 – Maxwell Anderson, American journalist and playwright (d. 1959)

1892 – J. Paul Getty, American-English businessman and art collector, founded Getty Oil (d. 1976)

1911 – Stan Kenton, American pianist and composer (d. 1979)

1921 – Alan Freed, American radio host (d. 1965)

1933 – Tim Conway, American actor, producer, and screenwriter


1890 – Sitting Bull, American tribal chief (b. 1831)

1943 – Fats Waller, American singer-songwriter and pianist (b. 1904)

1944 – Glenn Miller, American bandleader and composer (b. 1904)

1966 – Walt Disney, American animator, director, producer, and screenwriter, co-founded The Walt Disney Company (b. 1901)

2005 – William Proxmire, American soldier, journalist, and politician (b. 1915)