Wednesday, December 22, 2004
1135: Ignoring the oaths they swore to the dying Henry I, English nobles pass over his daughter Maud and choose Count Stephen of Blois as their new king. Civil war will follow.
1697: The founder of the U.S. state of Georgia, James Oglethorpe, is born in Godalming, Surrey. He will prohibit rum and slavery in the new colony, but the colonists will later send him packing.
1775: The new Continental Navy is organized; plans are to give it thirteen ships. Rhode Island’s Esek Hopkins is named commander-in-chief of the fleet, and the first American flag is raised on a warship when his first lieutenant, John Paul Jones, raises it on the flagship Alfred (left).
1807: Congress passes President Jefferson’s Embargo Act, forbidding foreign trade. It is extremely unpopular in New England, leading to a near rebellion. It will be replaced by the Non-Intercourse Act exactly two years later. This doesn’t work, either.
1862: Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy—better known as Connie Mack—is born. A baseball player and manager, he will end up as owner of the Philadelphia Phillies.
1943: With supplies of rubber curtailed by the war, baseball allows sporting goods manufacturers to use artificial rubber in baseballs.
1943: Beatrix Potter, creator of the Peter Rabbit line of children’s books, dies in Sawrey, Lancashire.
1976: The television program Let’s Make a Deal with Monty Hall and Carol Merrill (left) wraps up production. Over 3,200 shows, Hall gave away some $35 million in prizes. If you ever wondered whether you should stay with door number 1 or switch to door number 3, here's the answer.
1989: Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate reopens for the first time in thirty years.
1998: The American Basketball League files for bankruptcy, citing lack of television exposure and sponsor support, all of which apparently went to the rival Women’s National Basketball Association.
2003: The poet laureate of the American truck driver, Dave Dudley, dies of a heart attack. He created a new genre of country music with songs like Six Days on the Road, There Ain’t No Easy Run, and Truck Drivin’ Son-of-a Gun.