69: Vespians’s supporters enter Rome and discover Vitellius in hiding. He is dragged through the streets before being brutally murdered.
1355: Stephen Urosh IV of Serbia dies while marching to attack Constantinople.
1802: The United States buys the Louisiana territory from France.
1860: South Carolina secedes from the Union.
1861: English transports loaded with 8,000 troops set sail for Canada so that troops are available if the “Trent Affair” is not settled without war.
1924: Adolf Hitler is released from prison after serving less than one year of a five year sentence for treason.
1930: Thousands of Spaniards sign a revolutionary manifesto.
1933: The German government announces 400,000 citizens are to be sterilized because of hereditary defects.
1938: First electronic television system is patented.
1941: The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, enter combat against the Japanese over Kunming.
1943: Soviet forces halt a German army trying to relieve the besieged city of Stalingrad.
1946: Viet Minh and French forces fight fiercely in Annamite section of Hanoi.
1948: The U.S. Supreme Court announces that it has no jurisdiction to hear the appeals of Japanese war criminals sentenced by the International Military Tribunal.
1960: The National Liberation Front is formed by guerrillas fighting the Diem regime in South Vietnam.
1962: In its first free election in 38 years, the Dominican Republic chooses leftist Juan Bosch Gavino as president.
1963: Four thousand cross the Berlin Wall to visit relatives under a 17-day Christmas accord.
1989: U.S. troops invade Panama to oust Gen. Manuel Noriega and replace him with Guillermo Endara.
1995: NATO begins peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.
1996: NeXT merges with Apple Computer, leading to the development of the groundbreaking Mac OS X.
2007: Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest monarch in the history of the UK; previously, that honor belonged to Queen Victoria.
Born on December 20
1868: Harvey Firestone, industrialist and tire maker.
1881: Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1901: Robert J. Van de Graff, physicist, invented the Van de Graaff generator.
1904: Virgil “Spud” Davis, pro baseball catcher, coach, scout and manager.
1914: Harry F. Byrd Jr., first independent ever elected to U.S. Senate by a majority of the popular vote (Virginia).
1921: George Roy Hill, film director (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting”).
1946: Dick Wolf, television producer (“Miami Vice,” “Law & Order”).
1948: Alan Parsons, musician (The Alan Parsons Project); producer who was involved with The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” and Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
1963: Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, elder daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain; fourth in line of succession to the Spanish throne.
1976: Adam Powell, Welsh game designer; co-founder of Neopets and Meteor Games companies.