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 26 is the 360th day of the year (361st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are five days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1776, Gen. George Washington wins first major U.S. victory at Trenton
At approximately 8 a.m. on the morning of December 26, 1776, General George Washington’s Continental Army reaches the outskirts of Trenton, New Jersey, and descends upon the unsuspecting Hessian force guarding the city. Trenton’s 1,400 Hessian defenders were still groggy from the previous evening’s Christmas festivities and had underestimated the Patriot threat after months of decisive British victories throughout New York. The troops of the Continental Army quickly overwhelmed the German defenses, and by 9:30 a.m.Trenton was completely surrounded.
The image of ragged farm-boy Patriots defeating drunken foreign mercenaries has become ingrained in the American imagination. Then as now, Washington’s crossing and the Battle of Trenton were emblematic of the American Patriots’ surprising ability to overcome the tremendous odds they faced in challenging the wealthy and powerful British empire.
The Battle of Trenton took place on December 26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, after General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton, New Jersey. The hazardous crossing in adverse weather made it possible for Washington to lead the main body of the Continental Army against Hessian soldiers garrisoned at Trenton. After a brief battle, nearly the entire Hessian force was captured, with negligible losses to the Americans. The battle significantly boosted the Continental Army’s flagging morale, and inspired re-enlistments.
The Continental Army had previously suffered several defeats in New York and had been forced to retreat through New Jersey to Pennsylvania. Morale in the army was low; to end the year on a positive note, George Washington-Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army-devised a plan to cross the Delaware River on Christmas night and surround the Hessian garrison.
Because the river was icy and the weather severe, the crossing proved dangerous. Two detachments were unable to cross the river, leaving Washington and the 2,400 men under his command alone in the assault. The army marched 9 miles (14 km) south to Trenton. The Hessians had lowered their guard, thinking they were safe from the American army, and did not post a dawn sentry. After having a Christmas feast, they fell asleep. Washington’s forces caught them off guard and, before the Hessians could resist, they were taken prisoner. Almost two thirds of the 1,500-man garrison was captured, and only a few troops escaped across Assunpink Creek.
Despite the battle’s small numbers, the American victory inspired rebels in the colonies. With the success of the revolution in doubt a week earlier, the army had seemed on the verge of collapse. The dramatic victory inspired soldiers to serve longer and attracted new recruits to the ranks.
1481 – Battle of Westbroek: Holland defeats troops of Utrecht.
1613 – Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, marries Frances Howard.
1776 – American Revolutionary War: The British are defeated in the Battle of Trenton.
1790 – Louis XVI of France gives his public assent to Civil Constitution of the Clergy during the French Revolution.
1792 – The final trial of Louis XVI of France begins in Paris.
1793 – Second Battle of Wissembourg: French defeat Austrians.
1805 – Austria and France sign the Treaty of Pressburg.
1806 – Battles of Pultusk and Golymin: Russian forces hold French forces under Napoleon.
1811 – A theater fire in Richmond, Virginia kills the Governor of Virginia George William Smith and the president of the First National Bank of Virginia Abraham B. Venable.
1861 – American Civil War: The Trent Affair: Confederate diplomatic envoys James M. Mason and John Slidell are freed by the United States government, thus heading off a possible war between the United States and Britain.
1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou begins.
1862 – Four nuns serving as volunteer nurses on board USS Red Rover are the first female nurses on a U.S. Navy hospital ship.
1862 – The largest mass-hanging in U.S. history took place in Mankato, Minnesota, 38 Native Americans die.
1870 – The 12.8-km long Frejus Rail Tunnel through the Alps is completed.
1871 – Gilbert and Sullivan collaborate for the first time, on their lost opera, Thespis. It does modestly well, but the two would not collaborate again for four years.
1898 – Marie and Pierre Curie announce the isolation of radium.
1919 – Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox is sold to the New York Yankees by owner Harry Frazee.
1925 – Turkey adopts the Gregorian Calendar.
1933 – FM radio is patented.
1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
1943 – World War II: German warship Scharnhorst is sunk off of Norway’s North Cape after a battle against major Royal Navy forces.
1944 – World War II: Patton’s Third Army breaks the encirclement of surrounded U.S. forces at Bastogne, Belgium.
1945 – CFP franc and CFA franc are created.
1948 – Cardinal Mindszenty is arrested in Hungary and accused of treason and conspiracy.
1966 – The first Kwanzaa is celebrated by Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.
1972 – Vietnam War: As part of Operation Linebacker II, 120 American B-52 Stratofortress bombers attacked Hanoi, including 78 launched from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the largest single combat launch in Strategic Air Command history.
1975 – The Tupolev Tu-144 goes into service in Soviet Union.
1976 – The Communist Party of Nepal Marxist-Leninist) is founded.
1980 – Aeroflot puts the Ilyushin Il-86 into service.
1982 – Time Magazine’s Man of the Year is for the first time a non-human, the personal computer.
1986 – The first long-running American television soap opera, Search for Tomorrow, airs its final episode after thirty-five years on the air.
1991 – The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union meets and formally dissolves the USSR.
1994 – Four Armed Islamic Group hijackers seize control of Air France Flight 8969. When the plane lands at Marseille, a French Gendarmerie assault team boards the aircraft and kills the perpetrators.
1996 – Six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey is found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado.
1996 – Start of the largest strike in South Korean history.
1997 – The Soufriere Hills volcano on the island of Montserrat explodes, creating a small tsunami offshore.
1998 – Iraq announces its intention to fire upon U.S. and British warplanes that patrol the northern and southern no-fly zones.
1999 – The storm Lothar sweeps across Central Europe, killing 137 and causing US$1.3 billion in damage.
2003 – A magnitude 6.6 earthquake devastates southeast Iranian city of Bam, killing tens of thousands and destroying the citadel of Arg-e Bam.
2004 – A 9.3 magnitude earthquake creates a tsunami causing devastation in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Maldives and many other areas around the rim of the Indian Ocean, killing over 250,000 people including over 1700 on a moving train.
2004 – Orange Revolution: The final run-off election is held under heavy international scrutiny.
2005 – Boxing Day shooting on a busy shopping street in Toronto.
2006 – The 2006 Hengchun earthquake with 7.1 magnitude hit Taiwan.
2006 – An oil pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria explodes, killing at least 260.
* Boxing Day, except when 26 December is a Sunday Boxing Day is transferred to 27 December by Royal Proclamation. (Commonwealth of Nations), and its related observances:
o Day of Good Will (South Africa and Namibia)
* Christian Feast Day:
o Abadiu of Antinoe (Coptic Church)
o Earliest day on which Feast of the Holy Family can fall, celebrated on Sunday after Christmas or 30 if Christmas falls on a Sunday.
o James the Just (Eastern Orthodox Church)
o Stephen (Western Church)
o Synaxis of the Theotokos (Eastern Orthodox Church)
* Independence and Unity Day (Slovenia)
* Mauro Hamza Day (Houston, Texas)
* Mummer’s Day (Padstow, Cornwall)
* St. Stephen’s Day (public holiday in Alsace, Austria, Catalonia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Slovakia), and its related observances:
* The first day of Kwanzaa, celebrated until January 1 (United States)
* The first day of Junkanoo street parade, the second day is on the New Year’s Day (the Bahamas)
* The second day of Christmas (Western Christianity)
* The first of Twelve Holy Days (Esoteric Christianity)
* Wren Day (Ireland and the Isle of Man)