What Happened on December 16?

  • The Battle of the Bulge began. (1944) This battle marked the beginning of the last major German offensive of World War II. It was the largest battle fought on the Western front and lasted for three weeks.

  • The Boston Tea Party took place. (1773) Massachusetts colonists calling themselves the "Sons of Liberty" dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor in response to the British tea tax. This was one of the biggest acts of rebellion before the American Revolution started. It led to the meeting of the First Continental Congress to discuss the possibility of the American colonies uniting against Britain.

  • Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity. (1915) The theory, which states that gravitational attraction between objects is a result of them warping space and time, would become a keystone of modern quantum mathematics and physics.

  • Vasco de Gama passed the Great Fish River, the furthest point ever reached by previous European explorers. (1497) de Gama went on to become the first European to arrive in India by sea, opening up an extremely profitable trade route between Europe and India.

  • The first landing on Venus took place. (1970) USSR spacecraft Venera 7 was the first spacecraft to successfully land on Venus, as well as the first spacecraft to land on a planet and then transmit information back to Earth.

  • President Truman declared a state of emergency due to Communism. (1950) As hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers poured into Korea in response to MacArthur's short-lived invasion of China, Truman declared the US to be in a state of emergency. Preparations began for what many thought would become World War III.

  • The death penalty for murder was abolished in the UK. (1969) This was one of the first steps taken towards the total abolishment of the death penalty in the UK, which happened two years later.

  • Rasputin was murdered. (1916) Prince Yusupov decided to kill the controversial monk and faith healer because of his influence over the Tsarina. Legend has it that Rasputin was poisoned, shot, clubbed and stabbed before Yusupov and his companions were finally able to kill him by drowning him.

  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published. (1901) Author Beatrix Potter printed the book privately after being rejected by several publishers. The book became wildly popular because of its plot and whimsical illustrations, painted by Potter herself. It was printed commercially the following year.

  • The first White House press conference took place. (1953) Though previous Presidents had made official statements to the press, President Eisenhower's press conference on communism and America's activities abroad was the first ever White House press conference in which the press was allowed to ask questions.

Discussion Comments


I'm quite surprised that the first spacecraft was able to land on Venus as far back as the 1970's, especially considering that technology wasn't as advanced back then as it is now. Not to mention, that Venus is one of the planets that's closest to the sun.

Either way, even though there might not be a limit to how far humans are willing to travel in space, I actually think it makes perfect sense to send a probe/spacecraft there, instead of sending people to do the job.

Space can be a very dangerous place, and the farther you travel, the more likely you run into something. Obviously, that's not to say that humans can't and haven't traveled into space, but on the other hand, conditions can be very harsh, and we need all the preparation that we can get. On the other hand, sending a spacecraft gets the job done faster.


Back in the 1990's, I remember reading Peter Rabbit, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. In relation to the bullet point though, one thing that I find to be really interesting is how far the story dates back to, 1901. In my opinion, this really shows that a lot of our so called "modern" stories might not be as recent as we think.

After all, don't forget that in the early 1900s, and even the 1800s, children existed too, and they probably enjoyed listening to whimsical stories and tales. Soon, these would be passed down from generation to generation, where they've ended up in this day and age. Overall, it's definitely something interesting to think about, the fact that a lot of stories and even nursery rhymes are based on old traditions.


In relation to the fourth to last bullet point, does anyone else wonder what states and countries still have the death penalty?

Considering how it was abolished in the UK, and even more so, it's mostly been abolished in the US (or at least toned down quite a bit), I can't help but wonder.

In my opinion, the reason why the death penalty isn't used that often, or has been discontinued in several places, is mostly due to the fact that it can be considered a cruel and unusual punishment.

Not to mention that some people might even end up being innocent, and because of this, there's no reason to be put to death.

For example, correct me if I'm wrong, but I once heard of an incident where someone was put to death in either the U.S. or the U.K. However, later on, it was discovered that they were completely innocent, making their death a complete waste.

After all, had they been simply locked up in prison, at least they'd be able to get released and set free. Obviously not the case if someone is already dead.

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