This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
December 15 is the 349th day of the year (350th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 16 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day 1791, Virginia becomes the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights, making the first ten amendments to the Constitution law and completing the revolutionary reforms begun by the Declaration of Independence. Before the Massachusetts ratifying convention would accept the Constitution, which they finally did in February 1788, the document’s Federalist supporters had to promise to create a Bill of Rights to be amended to the Constitution immediately upon the creation of a new government under the document.
After the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the 1st United States Congress met in Federal Hall in New York City. Most of the delegates agreed that a “bill of rights” was needed and most of them agreed on the rights they believed should be enumerated.
Madison, at the head of the Virginia delegation of the 1st Congress, had originally opposed a Bill of Rights but hoped to pre-empt a second Constitutional Convention that might have undone the difficult compromises of 1787: a second convention would open the entire Constitution to reconsideration and could undermine the work he and so many others had done in establishing the structure of the United States Government. Writing to Jefferson, he stated, “The friends of the Constitution…wish the revisal to be carried no farther than to supply additional guards for liberty…and are fixed in opposition to the risk of another Convention….It is equally certain that there are others who urge a second Convention with the insidious hope of throwing all things into Confusion, and of subverting the fabric just established, if not the Union itself.”
Madison based much of the Bill of Rights on George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), which itself had been written with Madison’s input. He carefully considered the state amendment recommendations as well. He looked for recommendations shared by many states to avoid controversy and reduce opposition to the ratification of the future amendments. Additionally, Madison’s work on the Bill of Rights reflected centuries of English law and philosophy, further modified by the principles of the American Revolution.
533 – Byzantine general Belisarius defeats the Vandals, commanded by King Gelimer, at the Battle of Ticameron.
1167 – Sicilian chancellor Stephen du Perche moves the royal court to Messina to prevent a rebellion.
1256 – Hulagu Khan captures and destroys the Hashshashin stronghold at Alamut in present-day Iran as part of the Mongol offensive on Islamic southwest Asia.
1467 – Stephen III of Moldavia defeats Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, with the latter being injured thrice, at the Battle of Baia.
1791 – The United States Bill of Rights becomes law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.
1863 – In Romania the mountain railway from Anina to Oravita is used for the first time.
1864 – In the Battle of Nashville, Union forces under George H. Thomas almost completely destroy the Army of Tennessee under John B. Hood.
1868 – Shogunate rebels found Ezo Republic in Hokkaido.
1903 – The Wright brothers’ first attempt to launch the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, NC
1905 – The Pushkin House is established in St. Petersburg to preserve the cultural heritage of Alexander Pushkin
1906 – The London Underground’s Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway opens.
1913 – Nicaragua becomes a signatory to the Buenos Aires Convention.
1914 – World War I: The Serbian Army recaptures Belgrade from the invading Austro-Hungarian Army.
1914 – A gas explosion at Mitsubishi Hojyo coal mine, Kyushu, Japan, kills 687.
1917 – World War I: An armistice is reached between the new Bolshevik government and the Central Powers.
1933 – 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution becomes officially effective, legalizing alcohol.
1939 – Gone with the Wind receives its premiere at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
1941 – Holocaust: German troops execute over 15,000 Jews at Drobitsky Yar, a ravine southeast of the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine.
1941 – The American Federation of Labor adopts a no-strike policy in war industries.
1942 – The Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse begins during the Guadalcanal campaign.
1945 – Occupation of Japan: General Douglas MacArthur orders that Shinto be abolished as the state religion of Japan.
1954 – The Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands was signed.
1955 – Jens Olsen’s World Clock is started by Danish King Frederick IX and Jens Olsen’s youngest grandchild Birgit.
1960 – Richard Paul Pavlick is arrested for attempting to blow up and assassinate the U.S. President-Elect, John F. Kennedy only four days earlier.
1961 – In Jerusalem, Adolph Eichmann is sentenced to death after being found guilty of 15 criminal charges, including charges of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and membership of an outlawed organization.
1965 – Gemini program: Gemini 6A, crewed by Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford, is launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. Four orbits later, it achieves the first space rendezvous, with Gemini 7.
1970 – The Illinois State Constitution is adopted at a special election.
1973 – John Paul Getty III, grandson of American billionaire J. Paul Getty, is found alive near Naples, Italy, after being kidnapped by an Italian gang on July 10, 1973.
1973 – The American Psychiatric Association votes 13-0 to remove homosexuality from its official list of psychiatric disorders, the DSM-II.
1976 – Samoa becomes a member of the United Nations.
1978 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter announces that the United States will recognize the People’s Republic of China and cut off all relations with Taiwan
1993 – History of Northern Ireland: The Downing Street Declaration is issued by British Prime Minister John Major and Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.
1994 – Palau becomes a member of the United Nations.
1997 – The Treaty of Bangkok is signed allowing the transformation of Southeast Asia into a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.
2000 – The 3rd reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is shut down.
2001 – The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens after 11 years and $27,000,000 to fortify it, without fixing its famous lean.
2002 – The Capital Center (formerly US Airways Arena) is demolished.
2005 – Latvia amends its constitution to eliminate possibility of same-sex couples being entitled to marry.
2005 – Argentina’s president Nestor Kirchner announces the early repayment of its external debt to the IMF.
2005 – Introduction of the F-22 Raptor into USAF active service.
2005 – The 2005 Atlantic Power Outage began.
2006 – First flight of the F-35 Lightning II.
2009 – Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner makes its maiden flight from Seattle, Washington.
* Christian Feast Day