Today in History - Dec. 19

AP News
Posted: Dec 19, 2009 12:01 AM

Today is Saturday, Dec. 19, the 353rd day of 2009. There are 12 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 19, 1843, "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens, was first published in England.

On this date:

In 1777, Gen. George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, Pa., to camp for the winter.

In 1813, British forces captured Fort Niagara in upstate New York during the War of 1812.

In 1907, 239 workers died in a coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pa.

In 1932, the BBC began transmitting overseas with its Empire Service to Australia.

In 1946, war broke out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launched widespread attacks against the French.

In 1957, Meredith Willson's musical play "The Music Man" opened on Broadway.

In 1972, Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific, winding up the Apollo program of manned lunar landings.

In 1974, Nelson A. Rockefeller was sworn in as the 41st vice president of the United States.

In 1984, a fire at the Wilberg Mine near Orangeville, Utah, killed 27 people. Britain and China signed an accord returning Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House for perjury and obstruction of justice (he was later acquitted by the Senate).

Ten years ago: Space shuttle Discovery and seven astronauts roared into the night toward the crippled Hubble Space Telescope. Macau spent its last day under Portuguese control before being handed back to China, ending 442 years of colonial rule. Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Orlando Brown was ejected for pushing referee Jeff Triplette to the ground during a game against Jacksonville after accidentally being hit in the eye with Triplette's weighted penalty flag. Actor Desmond Llewelyn, who'd starred as the eccentric gadget expert Q in a string of James Bond films, was killed in a car crash in East Sussex, England; he was 85.

Five years ago: In Iraq, car bombs tore through a Najaf funeral procession and Karbala's main bus station, killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 120 in the two Shiite holy cities. In Baghdad, three Iraqi election officials were killed execution-style by insurgents. Time magazine named President George W. Bush its Person of the Year for the second time. Opera singer Renata Tebaldi died in San Marino at age 82.

One year ago: Citing imminent danger to the national economy, President George W. Bush ordered an emergency bailout of the U.S. auto industry. An unwavering Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich served notice he had no intention of quitting over his corruption arrest, declaring: "I have done nothing wrong." Militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel as Hamas ended a six-month truce.

Today's Birthdays: Country singer Little Jimmy Dickens is 89. Composer-lyricist Robert Sherman ("Mary Poppins") is 84. Actress Cicely Tyson is 76. R&B singer-musician Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 68. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is 68. Actress Elaine Joyce is 66. Actor Tim Reid is 65. Paleontologist Richard E. Leakey is 65. Rock singer Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) is 65. Musician John McEuen is 64. Singer Janie Fricke is 62. Jazz musician Lenny White is 60. Actor Mike Lookinland is 49. Actress Jennifer Beals is 46. Actor Scott Cohen is 45. Actor Robert MacNaughton is 43. Magician Criss Angel is 42. Rock musician Kevin Shepard is 41. Actress Kristy Swanson is 40. Model Tyson Beckford is 39. Actress Amy Locane is 38. Actress Rosa Blasi is 37. Actress Alyssa Milano is 37. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is 29. Actress Marla Sokoloff is 29. Rapper Lady Sovereign is 24.

Thought for Today: "I never could see why people were so happy about Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' because I never had any confidence that Scrooge was going to be different the next day." _ Dr. Karl Menninger, American psychiatrist (1893-1990).