1638: The Ottomans under Murad IV recapture Baghdad from Safavid Persia.
1812: Joel Barlow, aged 58, American poet and lawyer, dies from exposure near Vilna, Poland, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s retreat from Moscow. Barlow was on a diplomatic mission to the emperor for President James Madison.
1814: A treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, ending the War of 1812, is signed at Ghent, Belgium. The news does not reach the United States until two weeks later (after the decisive American victory at New Orleans).
1861: The USS Gem of the Sea destroys the British blockade runner Prince of Wales off the coast at Georgetown, South Carolina.
1862: A Christmas present arrives a day early for the Federal troops at Columbus, Kentucky, in the way of artillery on board the USS New Era.
1914: Over 577,000 Allied soldiers are to spend Christmas as prisoners in Germany.
1917: Kaiser Wilhelm II warns Russia that he will use “iron fist” and “shining sword” if peace is spurned.
1943: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower is appointed the Allied supreme commander, even though almost everyone believed the position would go to American Chief of Staff George C. Marshall.
1947: An estimated 20,000 communists, led by guerrilla Gen. Markos Vafthiades, proclaim the Free Greek Government in northern Greece. They issue a call to arms to establish the regime throughout the nation.
1956: African Americans defy a city law in Tallahassee, Florida, and occupy front bus seats.
1963: New York’s Idlewild Airport is renamed JFK Airport in honor of the murdered President John F. Kennedy.
1964: The U.S. headquarters in Saigon is hit by a bomb, killing two officers.
1966: A Soviet research vehicle soft-lands on the moon.
1968: The first pictures of an Earth-rise over the moon are seen as the crew of Apollo 8 orbits the moon.
1970: Nine GIs are killed and nine are wounded by friendly fire in Vietnam.
1972: Hanoi bars all peace talks with the United States until U.S. air raids over North Vietnam stop.
1974: Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, destroying more than 70% of the city’s buildings, including 80% of its houses.
1974: An oil tanker’s spill pollutes 1,600 square miles of Japan’s Inland Sea.
2005: Chad declares a state of war against Sudan in the wake of the Dec. 18 attack on the town of Adre, in which approximately 100 people were killed.
Born on December 24
1166: King John of England.
1745: Benjamin Rush, American medical pioneer and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
1809: Christopher Kit Carson, one of the most famous mountain men and scouts in the West.
1905: Howard Hughes, American industrialist, aviator, film producer, and director.
1922: Ava Gardner, film actress (“The Barefoot Contessa,” “The Sun Also Rises”).
1923: U.S. Army Maj. Gen. George S. Patton IV, son of Gen. George Patton of World War II fame.
1929: Mary Higgins Clark, author of suspense novels (“Where are the Children,” “Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting”).
1955: Scott Fischer, mountain climber and guide; first American to reach the summit of Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest mountain.
1971: Ricky Martin, Puerto Rican pop musician, actor, author; was a member of the boy group Menudo before launching a successful solo career (“Livin’ la Vida Loca”).
1973: Stephenie Meyer, author best known for her young-adult, vampire romance series “Twilight.”
1974: Ryan Seacrest, radio personality, TV host; host of “American Idol” TV talent competition.