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This Day in History: December 2


1775 – The USS Alfred becomes the first vessel to fly the Grand Union Flag (the precursor to the Stars and Stripes); the flag is hoisted by John Paul Jones.

1823 – Monroe Doctrine: In a State of the Union message, U.S. President James Monroe proclaims American neutrality in future European conflicts, and warns European powers not to interfere in the Americas.

1845 – Manifest destiny: In a State of the Union message, U.S. President James K. Polk proposes that the United States should aggressively expand into the West.

1859 – Militant abolitionist leader John Brown is hanged for his October 16 raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

1867 – At Tremont Temple in Boston, British author Charles Dickens gives his first public reading in the United States.

1927 – Following 19 years of Ford Model T production, the Ford Motor Company unveils the Ford Model A as its new automobile.

1930 – Great Depression: In a State of the Union message, U.S. President Herbert Hoover proposes a $150 million (equivalent to $2,125,000,000 in 2015) public works program to help generate jobs and stimulate the economy.

1939 – New York City's LaGuardia Airport opens.

1942 – World War II: During the Manhattan Project, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

1943 – World War II: A Luftwaffe bombing raid on the harbour of Bari, Italy, sinks numerous cargo and transport ships, including the American SS John Harvey, which is carrying a stockpile of World War I-era mustard gas.

1954 – Cold War: The United States Senate votes 65 to 22 to censure Joseph McCarthy for "conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute".

1954 – The Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Taiwan, is signed in Washington, D.C.

1962 – Vietnam War: After a trip to Vietnam at the request of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield becomes the first American official to comment adversely on the war's progress.

1970 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency begins operations.

1982 – At the University of Utah, Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart.

1993 – Space Shuttle program: STS-61: NASA launches the Space Shuttle Endeavour on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

2001 – Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

2015 – San Bernardino attack: Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik kill 14 people and wound 22 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.


1754 – William Cooper, American judge and politician, founded Cooperstown, New York (d. 1809)

1760 – John Breckinridge, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 5th United States Attorney General (d. 1806)

1863 – Charles Edward Ringling, American businessman, co-founded the Ringling Brothers Circus (d. 1926)

1891 – Charles H. Wesley, American historian and author (d. 1987)

1923 – Maria Callas, American-Greek soprano and actress (d. 1977)

1924 – Alexander Haig, American general and politician, 59th United States Secretary of State (d. 2010)

1944 – Cathy Lee Crosby, American actress

1968 – Lucy Liu, American actress and producer

1973 – Monica Seles, Serbian-American tennis player

1981 – Britney Spears, American singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress

1983 – Aaron Rodgers, American football player


1547 – Hernán Cortés, Spanish general and explorer (b. 1485)

1726 – Samuel Penhallow, English-American historian and author (b. 1665)

1859 – John Brown, American activist and murderer (b. 1800)

1892 – Jay Gould, American businessman and financier (b. 1836)

1936 – John Ringling, American businessman, co-founded Ringling Brothers Circus (b. 1866)

1957 – Harrison Ford, American actor (b. 1884)

1986 – Desi Arnaz, Cuban-American actor, singer, businessman, and television producer (Desilu Productions) (b. 1917)

1990 – Aaron Copland, American composer and conductor (b. 1900)

2016    Sammy Lee, American Olympic diver (b. 1930)