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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Today in history—December 23

1116: St. Ivo of Chartres, the most important Western canon lawyer before Gratianus, dies

1776: The Continental Congress borrows $181,500 from France.

1823: The Troy (N.Y.) Record publishes an anonymous poem, Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas, written by a professor of classics at General Theological Seminary in New York. As The Night Before Christmas, it will become Professor Clement Clarke Moore’s best-selling work, easily surpassing his two-volume Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language.

Sarah_breedlove 1867: Sarah Breedlove Walker (Left), daughter of two ex-slaves, is born at Delta, Louisiana.  After working days as a washerwoman and going to school at night, she will in 1905 invent a hair-straightening process that will maker her, as "Madame C.J. Walker," a millionaire; she will do much to spark the Harlem Renaissance and will leave most of her fortune to charitable organizations.

1899: Germany and the Ottoman Empire agree to a treaty to build the Baghdad Railway, linking Anatolia and Iraq.

1913: President Wilson signs into law the bill creating the Federal Reserve bank system.

1928: The National Broadcasting Company sets up the first permanent coast-to-coast radio network. Stars include Amos & Andy, Ed Wynn, Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee, and Jack Benny.

1947: The modern electronics revolution begins with the invention of the transistor. John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley will later share the Nobel Prize for their invention.

1961: Fidel Castro offers to trade survivors of the Bay of Pigs fiasco for $62 million in food and medical supplies.

1963: Surf music hits America as the Beach Boys appear on the television program Shindig.

Eric_braden 1973: The soap opera The Young and the Restless debuts on CBS. They’re all 30 years older today but still as screwed up. At left, Eric Braeden (Victor Newman) is still restless at 63.

1975: An arbitrator rules that pitcher Andy Messersmith is a free agent. He will go on to become on of Ted Turner’s rare bad deals; after winning 39 games in his last two years with the Dodgers, Turner’s Atlanta Braves give him a huge contract and he promptly flops, winning only 16 games in his two years with the Braves.

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