1431: Henry VI of England is crowned king of France.
1653: Oliver Cromwell takes on dictatorial powers with the title of “Lord Protector.”
1773: To protest the tax on tea from England, a group of young Americans, disguised as Indians, throw chests of tea from British ships in Boston Harbor.
1835: A fire in New York City destroys property estimated to be worth $20,000,000. It lasts two days, ravages 17 blocks, and destroys 674 buildings including the Stock Exchange, Merchants’ Exchange, Post Office, and the South Dutch Church.
1863: Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston takes command of the Army of Tennessee.
1864: Union forces under Gen. George H. Thomas win the battle at Nashville, smashing an entire Confederate army.
1930: In Spain, a general strike is called in support of the revolution.
1939: The National Women’s Party urges immediate congressional action on equal rights.
1940: British troops carry out an air raid on Italian Somalia.
1944: Germany mounts a major offensive in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. As the center of the Allied line falls back, it creates a bulge, leading to the name –– the Battle of the Bulge.
1949: Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-tung is received at the Kremlin in Moscow.
1950: President Harry Truman declares a state of national emergency as Chinese communists invade deeper into South Korea.
1976: President Jimmy Carter appoints Andrew Young as ambassador to the United Nations.
1978: Cleveland becomes the first U.S. city to default since the depression.
1998:The United States launches a missile attack on Iraq for failing to comply with United Nations weapons inspectors.
2003: President George W. Bush signs the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which establishes the United States’ first national standards regarding email and gives the Federal Trade Commission authority to enforce the act.
Born on December 16: 1485
Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, who bore him six children; only one, Mary I, survived to adulthood.
1770: Ludwig Van Beethoven, German composer best known for his 9th Symphony.
1775: Jane Austen, novelist (“Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice”).
1917: Arthur C. Clarke, English science fiction writer (“2001: A Space Odyssey”).
1932: Sir Quentin Saxby Blake, illustrator and children’s writer; received the Hans Christian Andersen Award (2002) and was Britain’s first Children’s Laureate (1999–2001).
1936: Morris Dees, activist; co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
1938: Liv Ullmann, Norwegian actress and director; won Golden Globe for Best Actress–Motion Picture Drama for “The Emigrants” (1971).
1943: Steven Bochco, TV producer and writer (“Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law”).
1949: Billy Gibbons, singer, songwriter, musician with ZZ Top and Moving Sidewalks bands.
1955: Prince Lorenz of Belgium, archduke of Austria-Este.
1962: William Perry, pro football defensive lineman nicknamed The Refrigerator because of his size.
1963: Benjamin Bratt, actor best known for his role of Rey Curtis on the “Law & Order” TV series.
1969: Adam Riess, astrophysicist; shared 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for providing evidence the expansion of the universe is accelerating.