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This Day in History: December 18


1777 – The United States celebrates its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the Americans over British General John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga in October.

1787 – New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

1865 – US Secretary of State William Seward proclaims the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, prohibiting slavery throughout the USA.

1888 – Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law discover the ancient Indian ruins of Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde.

1917 – The resolution containing the language of the Eighteenth Amendment to enact Prohibition is passed by the United States Congress.

1932 – The Chicago Bears defeat the Portsmouth Spartans in the first NFL Championship Game.

1944 – World War II: Seventy-seven B-29 Superfortress and 200 other aircraft of U.S. Fourteenth Air Force bomb Hankow, China, a Japanese supply base.

1971 – Capitol Reef National Park is established in Utah.

1972 – Vietnam War: President Richard Nixon announces that the United States will engage North Vietnam in Operation Linebacker II, a series of Christmas bombings, after peace talks collapsed with North Vietnam on the 13th.

1999 – NASA launches into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT.

2002 – California gubernatorial recall: Then Governor of California Gray Davis announces that the state would face a record budget deficit of $35 billion, roughly double the figure reported during his reelection campaign one month earlier.


1863 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (d. 1914)

1878 – Joseph Stalin, Georgian-Russian marshal and politician, 4th Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1953)

1886 – Ty Cobb, American baseball player and manager (d. 1961)

1888 – Robert Moses, American urban planner, designed the Northern State Parkway and Southern State Parkway (d. 1981)

1890 – Edwin Howard Armstrong, American engineer, invented FM radio (d. 1954)

1912 – Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American general and pilot (d. 2002)

1941 – Joan Wallach Scott, American historian, author, and academic

1943 – Bobby Keys, American saxophonist (d. 2014)

1946 – Steven Spielberg, American director, producer, and screenwriter

1963 – Brad Pitt, American actor and producer

1964 – Stone Cold Steve Austin, American wrestler, actor, and producer


1971 – Bobby Jones, American golfer and lawyer (b. 1902)

1992 – Mark Goodson, American game show producer, created Family Feud and The Price Is Right (b. 1915)

1997 – Chris Farley, American comedian and actor (b. 1964)

2000 – Randolph Apperson Hearst, American businessman (b. 1915)

2006 – Joseph Barbera, American animator, director, and producer, co-founded Hanna-Barbera (b. 1911)

2007 – William Strauss, American author and playwright (b. 1947)

2008 – Majel Barrett, American actress and producer (b. 1932)

2008 – Mark Felt, American FBI agent (b. 1913)

2016    Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and socialite (b. 1917)