Today in History

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2015 12:00 AM

Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 16, the 350th day of 2015. There are 15 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 16, 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.

On this date:

In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became lord protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.

In 1809, the French Senate granted a divorce decree to Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Josephine (the dissolution was made final the following month).

In 1811, the first of the powerful New Madrid earthquakes struck the central Mississippi Valley with an estimated magnitude of 7.7.

In 1907, 16 U.S. Navy battleships, which came to be known as the "Great White Fleet," set sail on a 14-month round-the-world voyage to demonstrate American sea power.

In 1930, golfer Bobby Jones became the first recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award honoring outstanding amateur athletes.

In 1944, the World War II Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise attack against Allied forces through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium and Luxembourg (the Allies were eventually able to turn the Germans back).

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight "world conquest by Communist imperialism."

In 1960, 134 people were killed when a United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collided over New York City.

In 1965, British author W. Somerset Maugham, 91, died in Nice, France.

In 1976, the government halted its swine flu vaccination program following reports of paralysis apparently linked to the vaccine.

In 1985, at services in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, offered condolences to families of 248 soldiers killed in the crash of a chartered plane in Newfoundland. Organized-crime chief Paul Castellano and his bodyguard were shot to death outside a New York City restaurant on orders from John Gotti. "The Color Purple," Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of the Alice Walker novel, premiered in New York.

In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly rescinded its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism by a vote of 111-25.

Ten years ago: In a stinging defeat for President George W. Bush, Senate Democrats blocked passage of a new Patriot Act to combat terrorism at home. (The result was a revised Patriot Act signed by Bush in March 2006.) Actor John Spencer, who'd played the powerful chief of staff on TV's "The West Wing," died in Los Angeles at age 58. Singer-actor Enzo Stuarti died in Midland, Texas, at age 86. Jessica Simpson filed for divorce from Nick Lachey.

Five years ago: The House joined the Senate in passing a massive bipartisan tax package preventing a big New Year's Day tax hike for millions of Americans. Interviewer Larry King, joined by a parade of former guests, concluded his CNN talk show after 25 years.

One year ago: Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar, killing at least 148 people, mostly children. Nick Bjugstad scored the game-winning goal in the longest shootout in NHL history to lift the Florida Panthers over the Washington Capitals 2-1.

Today's Birthdays: Civil rights attorney Morris Dees is 79. Actress Joyce Bulifant is 78. Actress Liv Ullmann is 77. CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl is 74. TV producer Steven Bochco is 72. Former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is 71. Pop musician Tony Hicks (The Hollies) is 70. Pop singer Benny Andersson (ABBA) is 69. Actor Ben Cross is 68. Rock singer-musician Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) is 66. Rock musician Bill Bateman (The Blasters) is 64. Actor Xander Berkeley is 60. Actress Alison LaPlaca is 56. Actor Sam Robards is 54. Actor Jon Tenney is 54. Actor Benjamin Bratt is 52. Country singer-songwriter Jeff Carson is 52. Actor-comedian JB Smoove is 50. Actor Daniel Cosgrove is 45. Rhythm-and-blues singer Michael McCary is 44. Actor Jonathan Scarfe is 40. Actress Krysten Ritter is 34. Actress Zoe Jarman is 33. Country musician Chris Scruggs is 33. Actor Theo James is 31. Actress Amanda Setton is 30. Rock musician Dave Rublin (American Authors) is 29. Actress Hallee Hirsh is 28. Actress Anna Popplewell is 27.

Thought for Today: "It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit." — Sir Noel Coward, English actor, playwright, composer (born this date, 1899; died in 1973).