|Robert Van de Graaff|
Dec. 20, 1522 – During the Siege of Rhodes, Suleiman the Magnificent accepted the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who were allowed to evacuate. They eventually settled on Malta and became known as the Knights of Malta.
Dec. 20, 1606 – The Virginia Company loaded three ships with settlers and set sail from London to establish Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. The three ships included the "Susan Constant," "Godspeed" and "Discovery.”
Dec. 20, 1777 – During the American Revolution, Sultan Mohammed III of Morocco declared that American merchant ships would be under protection of the Sultan of Morocco and could have safe passage.
Dec. 20, 1783 - Virginia ceded the vast territory it had previously claimed by right of colonial charter to the federal government of the United States. The Ohio Valley territory, which covered the area north of the Ohio River, east of the Mississippi River, and south of the Great Lakes and Canada, had been contested by Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Dec. 20, 1790 - The first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Dec. 20, 1799 – Former governor of British West Florida Peter Chester passed away at the age of 79 in Bath, England, near Bristol.
Dec. 20, 1803 – The United States Senate ratified a treaty that included the purchase of the Louisiana Territories from France for $15 million, roughly three cents an acre. The transfer, known now as the “Louisiana Purchase,” was completed with formal ceremonies in New Orleans. The land, which spanned from Montana to the port of New Orleans, doubled the size of the United States.
Dec. 20, 1812 – American explorer Sacagawea died of an uknown illness at the age of 24 at Fort Lisa in present-day North Dakota.
Dec. 20, 1820 – The Town of Claiborne in Monroe County, Ala. was officially incorporated.
Dec. 20, 1820 – Pickens County, Ala. was established and named for Revolutionary War hero General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina.
Dec. 20, 1820 – Garrett Longmire took office as Justice of the Conecuh County (Ala.) Court. He owned Longmire’s Store, which was an early trading center, stage stop and post office as early as 1818.
Dec. 20, 1823 – Capt. Hayden set the then record for fastest trip from Mobile, Ala. to Montgomery, Ala., making the 450-mile trip in three days and 10 hours in the 123-ton steamboat, The Henderson, which sank on April 27, 1825 after colliding with the Balize about one mile from Claiborne.
Dec. 20, 1824 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette was formally received at the statehouse in Annapolis, Md.
Dec. 20, 1827 – The organizational charter was issued to Dale Masonic Lodge No. 25 in Camden, Ala.
Dec. 20, 1833 - Samuel Mudd, the physician that set John Wilkes Booth's leg after the assissination of President Abraham Lincoln, was born in Charles County, Md.
Dec. 20, 1860 - South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union when state official ratified the ordinance of secession from the United States.
Dec. 20, 1861 – During the Civil War, two warships of the English Royal Navy convoyed troops to Canada in case a satisfactory solution to what became known as the “Trent Affair” could not be arranged.
Dec. 20, 1861 – During the Civil War, a stone fleet, consisting of old whaling vessels, was sunk by the Federal Navy to prevent (unsuccessfully) Confederate blockade runners from entering Charleston Harbor, S.C.
Dec. 20, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Dansville, Va.
Dec. 20, 1862 - Confederate General Earl Van Dorn thwarted Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s first attempt to capture Vicksburg, Miss. (the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River), when Van Dorn attacked Grant’s supplies at Holly Springs, Miss. Van Dorn remained in the area a few more days, cutting rail and telegraph lines, before fleeing in the face of pursuing Union cavalry. The raid was the highlight of Van Dorn’s military career as he was murdered five months later by the husband of a woman with whom he was having an affair.
Dec. 20, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Cane Hill, Ark.; at Cold Water, Miss.; at the railroad cross on Forked Deer River, Tenn.; at Kelly’s Ford and Occoquan, Va.; and at Halltown, West Virginia.
Dec. 20, 1862 – During the Civil War, a 14-day Federal operation began against Vicksburg, Miss.; and an eight-day Federal operation began against Major General Earl Van Dorn’s Confederate raid in northern Mississippi.
Dec. 20, 1862 – During the Civil War, a Federal expedition under the command of Union Major General William T Sherman departed Memphis, Tenn., heading down the Mississippi River to Vicksburg, Miss.
Dec. 20, 1862 – During the Civil War, Confederates under Nathan Bedford Forrest captured Humboldt and Trenton, Tenn.
Dec. 20, 1863 – During the Civil War, Federal reconnaissance from Lexington, Mo. was conducted.
Dec. 20, 1864 - Confederate forces under General William Hardee evacuated Savannah, Ga. as Union General William T. Sherman continued his "March to the Sea." It had been three days since Sherman had sent a letter to his Confederate counterpart Hardee inside Savannah, demanding the surrender of his army and the city it defended. As Hardee had barely 10,000 men to Sherman’s 62,000, fighting was out of the question. As the city was surrounded on three sides, with Howard’s corps moving to cut off the route to the north, surrender seemed the only choice. Hardee, after delaying as long as he could, booked out of town. The bridges were unusable, but Hardee’s engineers rigged an ingenious pontoon bridge out of rice-carrying barges lashed together across the Savannah River. All the cotton and most of the 250 cannon had to be left behind, but 10,000 soldiers of the Confederacy lived to fight another day. Sherman was severely criticized for allowing the escape.
Dec. 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Popular Point, N.C.; near the Pocotaligo Road in South Carolina; and at Columbia, Tenn.
Dec. 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, a 15-day Federal expedition from Cape Girardeau, Mo. to Cherokee Bay, Ark. began.
Dec. 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, the USS Hartford arrived in New York City Harbor for repairs. That vessel and its commander, Admiral David Gasglow Farragut, role in the Civil War had been concluded.
Dec. 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, the salt works at Saltville, Va. were destroyed.
Dec. 20, 1865 – Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, the lifelong muse of poet W.B. Yeats, was born in Surrey, England.
Dec. 20, 1881 – National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher, manager and executive Branch Rickey was born in Stockdale, Ohio. He would go on to play for the St. Louis Browns and the New York Highlanders. He went on to manage the Browns and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967.
Dec. 20, 1883 – Confederate veteran Joseph R. Bass of Evergreen, Ala. arrived in Caddo Mills, Texas. He’d moved to Caddo Mills from Jefferson, Texas, where he’d lived for about 18 years. He moved to Texas from Evergreen in December 1865, following the Civil War.
Dec. 20, 1898 - Alabama author Clarence Cason was born in Ragland, Ala.
Dec. 20, 1900 – Major League Baseball catcher Charles Leo “Gabby” Hartnett was born in Woonsocket, R.I. He would go on to play for the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants. He also managed the Cubs from 1938 to 1940.
Dec. 20, 1901 – Physicist Robert Van de Graaff was born in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and is best known for the electrical generator that carries his name. A Van de Graaff generator primarily consists of a hollow metal globe standing on a thick, hollow pole. Inside the pole, a pair of pulleys drive a belt of silk over a pointed metal comb that is hooked to an external power supply. The comb and one pulley sit at the base of the pole, the second pulley sits inside the metal globe, and as the belt runs it builds up impressively large static electric charges — Van de Graaff’s original hand-built generator, which is now housed at the Boston Museum of Science, can generate more than 2 million volts on a dry day.
Dec. 20, 1904 – Major League Baseball catcher and manager Virgil Lawrence “Spud” Davis was born in Birmingham, Ala. He went on to play for the Cincinnati Reds, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals. He also managed the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Dec. 20, 1904 – Russian writer Yevgenia Ginzburg was probably born on this day in Moscow.
Dec. 20, 1905 – The Ina Lehr Stock Company was scheduled to perform “East Lynne” at the Opera House in Evergreen, Ala.
Dec. 20, 1911 – Fiction writer Hortense Calisher was born in New York City.
Dec. 20, 1915 – A box supper and the play, “The Haunted Hotel,” was scheduled to be held at the Owassa, Ala. school building on this Monday night. Admission was five cents.
Dec. 20, 1915 - The regular examination of applicants for teachers’ certificates began in the Monroe County Courthouse on this Monday in Monroeville, Ala., under the direction of County Superintendent Barnes.
Dec. 20, 1916 - Alabama author Cora Cheney was born in Birmingham, Ala.
Dec. 20, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. William J. Ledkins of Flomaton, Ala. and Army PFC Robert Coats of Grove Hill, Ala. “died from disease.”
Dec. 20, 1924 – Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison.
Dec. 20, 1928 – Pro Football Hall of Fame safety and coach Jack Leroy Christiansen was born in Sublette, Kansas. He would go on to play for Colorado State and the Detroit Lions.
Dec. 20, 1931 – In Lovecraftian fiction, the Starkweather-Moore Expedition, led by Professor Eustace Blake, left Bremen on their way to Antarctica to follow up on Miskatonic’s Pabodie expedition. The Starkweather-Moore Expedition is first mentioned in “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft.
Dec. 20, 1941 – During World War II, the first battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers" took place in Kunming, China.
Dec. 20, 1942 – Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Bob Hayes was born in Jacksonville, Fla. He would go on to play for the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.
Dec. 20, 1942 – The Hon. Dempsey M. Powell, who was a well known and prominent attorney in Greenville, Ala., was scheduled to speak at Evergreen Baptist Churc on this Sunday at 11 a.m. Powell was “not only one of the most successful lawyers in this section of the state, but is also one of the most active Baptist Laymen.”
Dec. 20, 1946 - The Frank Capra film "It's A Wonderful Life" had a preview showing for charity at New York City's Globe Theatre, a day before its "official" world premiere. James Stewart and Donna Reed star in the film.
Dec. 20, 1946 – Self-proclaimed spoon-bending psychic Uri Geller was born in Tel Aviv.
Dec. 20, 1946 - The morning after Viet Minh forces under Ho Chi Minh launched a night revolt in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, French colonial troops cracked down on the communist rebels.
Dec. 20, 1949 – Major League Baseball outfielder and designated hitter Oscar Gamble was born in Ramer, Ala. He would go on to play for the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Yankees, the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers.
Dec. 20, 1949 – Major League Baseball first baseman and manager Cecil Cooper was born in Brenham, Texas.
Dec. 20, 1954 – Poet and novelist Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago.
Dec. 20, 1955 – Evergreen High School’s boys basketball team picked up its sixth straight win by beating McGill Institute, 52-37, in Mobile, Ala. Randy White led Evergreen with 26 points.
Dec. 20, 1957 – Bobby Fields and Tom Drake were scheduled to square off in a “Best Two Out of Three Falls,” 60-minute wrestling match at the Pix Theatre in Evergreen, starting at 8:30 p.m. Also to be shown that night, on the big screen, was “The Leather Saint,” starring John Derek, Paul Douglas and Jody Lawrence. Admission was $1.
Dec. 20, 1959 - A television version of Alabama author Ambrose Bierce's story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" was broadcast as part of the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” series.
Dec. 20, 1960 – Science fiction and fantasy writer Nalo Hopkinson was born in Jamaica.
Dec. 20, 1960 - North Vietnam announced the formation of the National Front for the Liberation of the South at a conference held “somewhere in the South.”
Dec. 20, 1966 – Marine Lance Cpl. Dalton Buster Lowery of Brewton, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.
Dec. 20, 1967 - President Lyndon B. Johnson attended a memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt in Melbourne and then visited Vietnam, Thailand, and the Vatican.
Dec. 20, 1968 – The Zodiac Killer claimed his first victims, killing Betty Lou Jenson and David Faraday in Vallejo, Calif. Despite a myriad of suspects and theories, the true identity of the Zodiac Killer remains an unsolved mystery. In recent years, there has been renewed hope that the case may someday be solved, as investigators have gleaned DNA evidence from the envelopes of the infamous letters that were sent by the murderer to the San Francisco press.
Dec. 20, 1968 - Author John Steinbeck died at the age of 66 in New York City.
Dec. 20, 1976 – Major League Baseball first baseman, third baseman and right fielder Aubrey Huff was born in Marion, Ohio. During his career, he played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Houston Astros, the Baltimore Orioles, the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants.
Dec. 20, 1978 - Howard Marion Cook, 78, of Evergreen, Ala. died on this Wednesday in a Pensacola hospital. Cook had operated a taxi business in Evergreen for many years and was well-known and much respected by the people of Evergreen.
Dec. 20, 1979 - Alabama author Lucile Watkins Ellison died in Washington, D.C.
Dec. 20, 1984 - Frank Lee Porter killed a four-point buck on this Thursday in Conecuh County with help from his son, Frank Cortez, and dog, Dusty.
Dec. 20, 1985 – Weather reporter Earl Windham reported a low tempeature of 24 degrees in Evergreen, Ala.
Dec. 20, 1985 – President Reagan signed a bill establishing an official poet laureate for the United States.
Dec. 20, 1989 – “Born on the Fourth of July” opened in theaters.
Dec. 20, 1991 - Oliver Stone's "JFK" opened in the U.S.
Dec. 20, 1993 - It was announced that NBC would retain the rights to the National Football League's (NFL) AFC package.
Dec. 20, 1995 - Oliver Stone's "Nixon" opened in the U.S.
Dec. 20, 1997 – In “V for Vendetta,” with Evey’s help, V murdered Bishop Anthony Lilliman.
Dec. 20, 1998 - Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers became the first NFL player to throw at least 30 touchdown passes for five seasons.
Dec. 20, 2000 – Weather reporter Harry Ellis reported a low temperature of 15 degrees in Evergreen, Ala.
Dec. 20, 2008 - The Dallas Cowboys played their final game in Texas Stadium before moving to their new stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Dec. 20, 2014 - Sparta Academy’s varsity girls basketball team finished third in the Fort Dale Academy Christmas Tournament by beating Fort Dale, 44-43, on this Saturday afternoon in Greenville. Reagan Wild led Sparta over Fort Dale with 13 points, two assists and a steal. Other standout Sparta players in that game included Emily Deason, Alex Etheridge, Lisa Smith, Amber Kirksey, Ashley Riley, Abby Dunn, Lauryn Bolton, Maggie Brock, Emily Rodgers and Jayden McKeough.