December 15, 2004
Today in history—December 15
1790: U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Wilson (left), elected the first professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, delivers the school's first law lecture. Wilson will only teach for one semester; it will not be until 1852 that the law school will be permanently established.
1791: The first step in organizing the William and Mary Bill of Rights Law Journal is taken when the first ten amendments to the United States constitution come into effect when Virginia becomes the final state necessary ratify them.
1792: The first U.S. life insurance policy is issued in Philadelphia. The first lawsuit against an insurance company probably followed fairly soon thereafter.
1793: Henry Charles Carey, the economist who will become one of the foremost proponents of trade protectionism, is born in Philadelphia.
1832: Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the French engineer who will invent a public building that actually pays for itself and then makes a profit, is born at Dijon. (Click on the picture to see the lights twinkle.)
1853: Jean Kessler is born in the Netherlands. He will go on to co-found a small oil exploration company called Royal Dutch; under fierce competition from the American Standard Oil Company, it will merge in 1907 with the British Shell Transport and Trading Company, to become Royal Dutch/Shell.
1892: Oilman Jean Paul Getty is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1891: Canadian physical education instructor James Naismith, under orders from his boss to come up with "an indoor game that would provide an ‘athletic distraction’ for a rowdy class through the brutal New England winter," invents basketball at Springfield College, Massachusetts.
1922: Alan "Moondog" Freed, the disk jockey who would invent the term "rock and roll" but whose career would be destroyed by the music-business "payola" scandal in 1962, is born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
1925: The third edition of Madison Square Garden opens with a hockey game; the Montreal Canadiens defeat the New York Americans 3-1.
1939: The most commercially successful film of all time, Gone With the Wind, has its grand opening in Atlanta.
1964: Canada replaces the old Red Ensign flag, as the House of Commons adopts the the Maple Leaf flag, or l'Unifolié.
1966: Entertainment giant Walt Disney, who revolutionized both animated films and amusement parks, dies. Rumors that he was cryogenically frozen are urban legends. At least, that's what they want you to believe.
1974: Arbitrator Peter Seitz rules that the Oakland Athletics breached the contract of pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter (left) by failing to buy a required insurance policy. He releases Hunter from his contract, allowing him to become a free agent and subsequently to sign the then-largest contract in baseball history, $3.75 million from the New York Yankees.
1994: The first successful browser for the World Wide Web, Netscape Navigator 1.0, is released.
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