1484: Pope Innocent VIII issues a bill deploring the spread of witchcraft and heresy in Germany.
1776: Phi Beta Kappa is organized as the first American college Greek letter-fraternity, at William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Viginia.
1791: Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dies in Vienna.
1861: In the U.S. Congress, petitions and bills calling for the abolition of slavery are introduced.
1862: Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s cavalry suffers a setback in an engagement on the Mississippi Central Railroad at Coffeeville, Mississippi.
1864: Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood sends Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry and a division of infantry toward Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
1904: The Japanese destroy a Russian fleet at Port Arthur in Korea.
1909: George Taylor makes the first manned glider flight in Australia in a glider that he designed himself.
1912: Italy, Austria and Germany renew the Triple Alliance for six years.
1916: David Lloyd George replaces Herbert Asquith as the British prime minister.
1921: The British empire reaches an accord with the Irish revolutionary group Sinn Fein; Ireland is to become a free state.
1933: The 21st Amendment ends Prohibition in the United States, which had begun 13 years earlier.
1934: Italian and Ethiopian troops clash at the Ualual on the disputed Somali-Ethiopian border.
1936: The New Constitution in the Soviet Union promises universal suffrage, but the Communist Party remains the only legal political party.
1937: The Lindberghs arrive in New York on a holiday visit after a two-year voluntary exile.
1945: Four TBM Avenger bombers disappear approximately 100 miles off the coast of Florida.
1950: Pyongyang in Korea falls to the invading Chinese army.
1953: Italy and Yugoslavia agree to pull troops out of the disputed Trieste border region.
1955: A bus boycott begins under the leadership of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama.
1966: Comedian and political activist Dick Gregory heads for Hanoi, North Vietnam, despite federal warnings against it.
1978: The Soviet Union signs a 20-year friendship pact with Afghanistan.
1983: A military junta dissolves in Argentina.
2006: Commodore Frank Bainimarama overthrows the government in Fiji.
2007: A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle kills eight people at Westroads Mall, Omaha, Nebraska, before taking his own life.
Born on December 5
1782: Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States –– and the first born in the United States.
1839: George Armstrong Custer, Union cavalry leader who met his fate at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
1890: Fritz Lang, film director (“Metropolis,” “M”).
1901: Walt Disney, animator and creator of an entertainment empire.
1931: James Cleveland, considered the “King of Gospel.”
1932: Richard Wayne Penniman [Little Richard], singer, musician; important influence on rock ’n’ roll.
1934: Joan Didion, essayist and novelist (“Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” “Play it as it Lays”).
1935: Calvin Trillin, journalist and writer.
1947: Jim Plunkett, pro football quarterback.
1963: Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, first to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping.
1969: Morgan J. Freeman, film director; his “Hurricane Streets” (1997) was the first narrative film to win three awards at the Sundance Film Festival; produced MTV reality shows (“16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Mom”).