Monday, December 17, 2007

Today in History....December 17

* 1718, Great Britain declares war on Spain

* 1777, France recognized American independence

* 1807, France issues the Milan Decree, which confirms the Continental System

* 1862, during the American Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11, expelling Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Shortly after the uproar, President Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order. Grant later admitted to his wife that the criticism of his hasty action was well deserved. As Julia Grant put it, the general had "no right to make an order against any special sect."

* 1878, the rise of the silver movement and rampant currency deflation had taken their toll on gold. The premium on the precious metal had virtually vanished, leaving gold traders with little work to do. So, rather than twiddle their thumbs and wait for a turnaround, leaders of the nation's Gold Exchange decided to close shop on December 17.
However, the dawn of 1879 saw a reversal of gold's fortunes and the Exchange re-opened its doors for business.

* 1903, the Wright Brothers made their first powered and heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

* 1939, the German pocket battleship Adm. Graf Spee was scuttled by its crew, ending the World War II Battle of the River Plate off Uruguay

* 1941, Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was relieved of his command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet as part of a shake-up of officers in the wake of the Pearl Harbor disaster

* 1944, during World War II, the Battle of the Bulge -- Malmedy massacre
-- American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion POWs are shot by Waffen-SS Kampfgruppe Peiper

* 1957, the United States successfully test-fired the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time

* 1969, the SALT I talks begin. ALSO: The USAF closes its study of UFOs, stating that sightings were generated as a result of "A mild form of mass hysteria, Individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity, psychopathological persons, and misidentification of various conventional objects."

* 1973, 30 passengers are killed in an attack by practitioners of that "religion of peace" on Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport

* 1975, Lynette Fromme was sentenced in Sacramento, Calif., to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Ford

* 1979, driver Stan Barrett became the first person in the world to travel faster than sound on land. He drove the Budweiser Rocket car at a top speed of 739.666 in a one-way run at Rogers Dry Lake, California.
The ultrasonic speed set an unofficial record, but an official record requires trips in both directions, whose speeds are averaged.

* 1991, Yeltsin supporters announce Soviet Union will cease to exist by New Year's Eve

* 1997, the United States and 33 other countries signed a convention in Paris aimed at eradicating bribery in international business

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