Saturday, December 25, 2010

On This Day in History

1000 – Hungary is established as a Christian kingdom by Stephen I.  Nearly a thousand years after his death, Stephen is still regarded as one of Hungary's most revered saints, and the date of his canonization is celebrated as a state holiday commemorating the foundation of the nation.

1642 – According to the "Old Style" dating system, Isaac Newton, simply one of the most influential people in history, is born in Lincolnshire, England.  (The "New Style" calendar places his birthday on January 4, 1643.)

1776 – George Washington and his army cross the Delaware River to attack Great Britain's Hessian (German) mercenaries.  The Battle of Trenton was won decisively the next day, which boosted the Continental Army's morale and inspired a significant number of re-enlistments.

1818 – Written by Father Joseph Mohr and composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, the first performance of "Silent Night" takes place in the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

1826 – The result of whiskey smuggling for a Christmas party in the North barracks at the United States Military Academy, the Eggnog Riot concludes after beginning the previous night.  The riot involved more than one-third of the cadets by the time it ceased, 19 of whom were eventually court-martialed.

1868 – President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all Confederate soldiers.

1899 – Hailed by the American Film Institute as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema, Humphrey Bogart (his real name) was born in New York City.

1990 – Based upon a proposed hypertext system designed to access the many forms of documentation at, and related to, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the first successful trial run of the system that would become the World Wide Web was conducted by computer scientists Robert Cailliau and, the man credited for "inventing" the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee (and not Al Gore).

2009 – Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Muslim, unsuccessfully attempted a terrorist attack while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route to Detroit, as the concealed plastic explosives in his underwear failed to detonate properly.  Abdulmutallab was restrained, arrested, and eventually charged with, among other things, the attempted murder of 289 people.  The would-be "martyr" is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in York Charter Township, Michigan.

Shown above, "Washington Crossing the Delaware" by Emanuel Leutze (1851) is located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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