Dec 5, 1945: Aircraft squadron lost in the Bermuda Triangle
At 2:10 p.m., five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers comprising Flight 19 take off from the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station in Floridaon a routine three-hour training mission. Flight 19 was scheduled to take them due east for 120 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would return them to the naval base. They never returned.
December 6, 1865 -- The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, officially ending the institution of slavery, is ratified. "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." With these words, the single greatest change wrought by the Civil War was officially noted in the Constitution.
Dec 6, 1868:Train robbers reach the end of the line
A guard, who had been shot by brothers Frank, William, and Simeon Reno during a train robbery in May, dies of his wounds. His death so infuriated the public that a group of vigilantes yanked the three brothers from their Indiana jail cell five days later and hanged them. Although the Reno gang—which included another brother, John, as well—had a short reign of terror, they are credited with pulling off the first train robbery in American history and are believed to be the inspiration for criminal copycats like the legendary Jesse James.
At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.
December 7, 1787 -- In Dover, Delaware, the U.S. Constitution is unanimously ratified by all 30 delegates to the Delaware Constitutional Convention, making Delaware the first state of the modernUnited States.
The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be "annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind." Although Nobel offered no public reason for his creation of the prizes, it is widely believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war.
December 10, 1869 -- Motivated more by interest in free publicity than a commitment to gender equality, Wyoming territorial legislators pass a bill that is signed into law granting women the right to vote
On this day in 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia repulses a series of attacks by General Ambrose Burnside's Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg, Virginia. The defeat was one of the most decisive loses for the Union army, and it dealt a serious blow to Northern morale in the winter of 1862-63.