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This Day in History: December 5


1492 – Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

1775 – At Fort Ticonderoga, Henry Knox begins his historic transport of artillery to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

1831 – Former U.S. President John Quincy Adams takes his seat in the House of Representatives.

1847 – Jefferson Davis is elected to the U.S. senate.

1848 – California Gold Rush: In a message to the United States Congress, U.S. President James K. Polk confirms that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.

1876 – The Brooklyn Theatre fire kills at least 278 people in Brooklyn, New York.

1932 – German-born Swiss physicist Albert Einstein is granted an American visa.

1933 – Prohibition in the United States ends: Utah becomes the 36th U.S. state to ratify the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to enact the amendment. (This overturned the 18th Amendment which had made the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol illegal in the United States.)

1941 – World War II: In the Battle of Moscow, Georgy Zhukov launches a massive Soviet counter-attack against the German army, with the biggest offensive launched against Army Group Centre.

1943 – World War II: Allied air forces begin attacking Germany's secret weapons bases in Operation Crossbow.

1945 – Flight 19 is lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

1955 – The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merge and form the AFL–CIO.

1955 – E. D. Nixon and Rosa Parks lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

2014 – The first flight test of NASA's Orion spacecraft launches successfully.


1782 – Martin Van Buren, American lawyer and politician, 8th President of the United States (d. 1862)

1822 – Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz, American philosopher and academic, co-founded Radcliffe College (d. 1907)

1839 – George Armstrong Custer, American general (d. 1876)

1879 – Clyde Vernon Cessna, American pilot and businessman, founded the Cessna Aircraft Corporation (d. 1954)

1895 – Elbert Frank Cox, American mathematician and academic (d. 1969)

1896 – Ann Nolan Clark, American historian, author, and educator (d. 1995)

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

1902 – Strom Thurmond, American educator, general, and politician, 103rd Governor of South Carolina (d. 2003)

1932 – Little Richard, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor

1968 – Margaret Cho, American comedian, actress, producer, and screenwriter

1969 – Morgan J. Freeman, American director, producer, and screenwriter


1784 – Phillis Wheatley, Senegalese-American slave and poet (b. 1753)

1895 – Gall, American tribal chief (b. 1840)

1951 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (b. 1887)

1977 – Katherine Milhous, American author and illustrator (b. 1894)

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

2002 – Roone Arledge, American sportscaster and producer (b. 1931)