What Happened on December 13?

  • Saddam Hussein was captured. (2003) American forces found the former leader of Iraq hiding in a cellar near Tikrit. He was later convicted of crimes against humanity, and was hanged on December 30, 2006.

  • The Nanjing Massacre began. (1937) Japanese forces entered Nanjing and proceeded to murder and rape hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians. It was one of the worst mass murders and war rapes in history. The officers in charge of the attack were later charged with war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging.

  • The first successful abdominal surgery procedure was performed in the US. (1809) Dr. Ephraim McDowell removed a 22 pound (about 10 kg) tumor from the ovary of Jane Todd Crawford. Crawford had previously been misdiagnosed as being pregnant with twins. The surgery was performed without anesthetic or antiseptics, but Crawford made a complete and quick recovery. McDowell was called the "father of the ovariotomy," after that and went on to perform similar surgeries, including a hernia repair for President James Polk.

  • President G. W. Bush was declared the winner of the 2000 election. (2000) The hotly contested American presidential election of 2000 ended when Al Gore conceded the presidency to G. W. Bush after days of recounts.

  • The Permanent Court of International Justice was established. (1920) Associated with the League of Nations, the Permanent Court of International Justice could issue both judgments and opinions on international matters when asked. Though it dissolved along with the League of Nations, it laid the foundation for the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

  • Sir Francis Drake set out to sail around the globe. (1577) Drake, a pirate by preference, set out with a fleet of five ships to circumnavigate the globe and, while doing so, cause as much trouble to the Spaniards as possible. He became the second man to circumnavigate the globe after Magellan. The money and booty he gathered during the journey allowed Queen Elizabeth I to pay off all of Britain's debts at the time.

  • Production of the Susan B. Anthony dollar began. (1978) Honoring Susan B. Anthony, a famous suffragist and women's rights advocate, the Susan B. Anthony dollar was the first American coin to honor a non-fictional woman.

  • The first American furs were exported. (1621) Robert Cushman, a British trader, began his return journey to England loaded down with furs from the Plymouth colony in colonial America. The fur trade would grow to be a major money-maker for early America, and help foster a struggling economy.

  • The Getty Center opened in Los Angeles. (1997) Home to the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Center is famous for its distinctive architecture including the Central Garden, and the Getty Museum which exhibits famous works by Gauguin and Van Gogh, among others.

  • The clip-on tie is said to have been invented. (1928) Though it's not entirely clear who invented it, legend has it that it was a mortician who had too hard of a time tying ties onto his corpses.

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