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This Day in History: December 8


1596 – Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva, one of the first Jewish authors in the Americas, died in an auto-da-fé during the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico City.

1927 – The Brookings Institution, one of the United States' oldest think tanks, is founded through the merger of three organizations that had been created by philanthropist Robert S. Brookings.

1941 – World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares December 7 to be "a date which will live in infamy", after which the U.S. declares war on Japan.

1953 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his "Atoms for Peace" speech, which leads to an American program to supply equipment and information on nuclear power to schools, hospitals, and research institutions around the world.

1962 – Workers at four New York City newspapers (this later increases to nine) go on strike for 114 days.

1963 – Pan Am Flight 214, a Boeing 707, is struck by lightning and crashes near Elkton, Maryland, killing all 81 people on board.

1972 – United Airlines Flight 553, a Boeing 737, crashes after aborting its landing attempt at Chicago Midway International Airport, killing 45. The crash is the first-ever loss of a Boeing 737.

1980 – John Lennon is murdered by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota in New York City.

1988 – A United States Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II crashes into an apartment complex in Remscheid, Germany, killing 5 people and injuring 50 others.

2010 – With the second launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the first launch of the SpaceX Dragon, SpaceX becomes the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.


1765 – Eli Whitney, American engineer, invented the cotton gin (d. 1825)

1861 – William C. Durant, American businessman, founded General Motors and Chevrolet (d. 1947)

1894 – E. C. Segar, American cartoonist, created Popeye (d. 1938)

1925 – Sammy Davis, Jr., American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1990)

1933 – Flip Wilson, American actor and screenwriter (d. 1998)

1943 – Jim Morrison, American singer-songwriter and poet (d. 1971)

1953 – Sam Kinison, American comedian and actor (d. 1992)


1811 – Eliza Poe, English-American actress (b. 1787)

1885 – William Henry Vanderbilt, American businessman and philanthropist (b. 1821)

1919 – J. Alden Weir, American painter (b. 1852)

1980 – John Lennon, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1940)

2015 – John Trudell American author, poet, and actor (b. 1946)

2016     John Glenn, American aviator, astronaut and politician (b. 1921)