1814 – The War of 1812 between the U.S. and Britain was ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium.
1818 – Franz Gruber of Oberndorf, Germany composed the music for “Silent Night” to words written by Josef Mohr.
1828 – William Burke who, with his partner William Hare, dug up the dead and murdered to sell the corpses for dissection, went on trial in Edinburgh.
1851 – A fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, destroying about 35,000 volumes.
1865 – Several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, TN, called the Ku Klux Klan.
1906 – Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to broadcast a music program over radio, from Brant Rock, MA.
1914 – In World War I, the first air raid on Britain was made when a German airplane dropped a bomb on the grounds of a rectory in Dover.
1928 – The first broadcast of “The Voice of Firestone” was heard.
1943 – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord.
1944 – The Andrews Sisters starred in the debut of “The Andrews Sisters’ Eight-To-The-Bar-Ranch” on ABC Radio.
1944 – A German submarine torpedoed the Belgian transport ship S.S. Leopoldville with 2,235 soldiers aboard. About 800 American soldiers died. The soldiers were crossing the English Channel to be reinforcements at the battle that become known as the Battle of the Bulge.
1948 – For the first time ever, a midnight Mass was broadcast on television. It was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
1948 – The first completely solar-heated house became occupied in Dover, MA.
1951 – NBC-TV presented, “Amal and the Night Visitors,” the first opera written for television.
1951 – Libya achieved independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, under King Idris.
1965 – A meteorite landed on Leicestershire. It weighed about 100lbs.
1966 – Luna 13 landed on the moon.
1967 – Joe Namath (New York Jets) became the first NFL quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards.
1968 – The crew of the U.S. Navy ship, Pueblo, was released by North Korea. The Captain of the Pueblo, Commander Lloyd M. Bucher, and 82 of his crew were held for 11 months after the ship was seized by North Korea because of suspected spying by the Americans.
1968 – Three astronauts, James A. Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman, reached the moon. They orbited the moon 10 times before coming back to Earth. Seven months later man first landed on the moon.
1979 – Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in support of the country’s Marxist government.
1981 – Reggie Jackson announced that he would join Gene Autry’s California Angels for the 1982 season.
1981 – In Eastern Kazakh/Semipalatinsk, the Soviet Union performed a nuclear test.
1985 – Fidel Castro, the Cuban president, announced that he was a non-smoker.
1989 – Ousted Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega took refuge at the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Panama City.
1990 – Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married.
1992 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.
1997 – Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as “Carlos the Jackal,” was sentenced by a French court to life in prison for the 1975 murders of two French investigators and a Lebanese national.
1998 – At Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, a tourist was hit by a piece of flying metal while waiting to board a ride. The man’s wife and a Disneyland employee were also injured. Luan Phi Dawson died December 26th from his injuries.
1999 – Ivory Coast President Henri Konan Bédié was overthrown in a coup.
1999 – An Indian Airplines plane was seized during a flight from Katmandu, Nepal, to New Delhi. In Afghanistan, the 150 hostages were freed on December 31 after India released three Kashmir militants from prison.
2000 – 36 minutes after the end of a game, both the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins were called back to the playing field. The teams had to play the final 3 seconds of the game which the Dolphins had won 27-24. The end result did not change.
2000 – The “Texas 7,” seven convicts that had escaped a Texas prison, robbed a sports store in Irving, TX. The suspects killed Officer Aubrey Hawkins, stole $70,000, 25 weapons and clothing. The men had escaped on December 13.