1703 – The Methuen Treaty was signed between Portugal and England, giving preference to the import of Portuguese wines into England.
1831 – Charles Darwin set out on a voyage to the Pacific aboard the HMS Beagle. Darwin’s discoveries during the voyage helped him form the basis of his theories on evolution.
1845 – Dr. Crawford Williamson Long used anesthesia for childbirth for the first time. The event was the delivery of his own child in Jefferson, GA.
1900 – Carrie Nation staged her first raid on a saloon at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, KS. She broke each and every one of the liquor bottles that could be seen.
1904 – James Barrie’s play “Peter Pan” premiered in London.
1927 – Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party.
1938 – The first skimobile course in America opened in North Conway, NH.
1945 – The World Bank was created with an agreement signed by 28 nations.
1947 – The children’s television program “Howdy Doody,” hosted by Bob Smith, made its debut on NBC.
1949 – Queen Juliana of the Netherlands granted sovereignty to Indonesia after more than 300 years of Dutch rule.
1951 – In Cincinnati, OH, a Crosley automobile, with a steering wheel on the right side, became the first vehicle of its kind to be placed in service for mail delivery.
1965 – The BP oil rig Sea Gem capsized in the North Sea, with the loss of 13 lives.
1968 – “The Breakfast Club” signed off for the last time on ABC radio, after 35 years on the air.
1971 – Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Woodstock of Charles Schulz’ “Peanuts” comic strip were on the cover of “Newsweek” magazine.
1978 – Spain adopted a new constitution and became a democracy after 40 years of dictatorship.
1979 – Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. Babrak Karmal succeeded President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed.
1985 – Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports. A total of twenty people were killed, including five of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel.
1985 – Dian Fossey, an American naturalist, was found murdered at a research station in Rawanda.
1992 – The U.S. shot down an Iraqi fighter jet during what the Pentagon described as a confrontation between a pair of Iraqi warplanes and U.S. F-16 jets in U.N.-restricted airspace over southern Iraq.
1996 – Muslim fundamentalist Taliban forces retook the strategic air base of Bagram, solidifying their buffer zone around Kabul, the Afghanistan capital.
1997 – In Northern Ireland, Billy Wright was assassinated. He was imprisoned as a Protestant paramilitary leader.
2000 – Mario Lemeiux (Pittsburgh Penguins) returned to the National Hockey League (NHL) as a player after over 3 years of retirement. He was the first owner-player in the modern era of pro sports. Lemieux had purchased the Pittsburgh Penguins during his retirement from playing.
2001 – U.S. President George W. Bush granted China permanent normal trade status with the United States.
2002 – North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said that it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.
2002 – Clonaid announced the birth of the first cloned human baby. The baby had been born December 26.
2002 – In Chechnya, at least 40 people were killed when suicide bombers attacked the administartion of Grozny.