Home Today's History Lesson TODAY’S HISTORY LESSON: DEC 13



2003 – Saddam Hussein Captured – Saddam Hussein, the fifth president of Iraq, was found hiding in a camouflaged hole in the ground and was captured by American forces near Tikrit, Iraq. The military operation that led to his capture was called Operation Red Dawn. He was subsequently handed over to the interim Iraqi government. After a trial where he was found guilty of crimes against humanity, he was executed 3 years after his capture in December 2006.


1266 – Rebels holed up inside Kenilworth Castle surrender after 172 days to Henry III, ending one of the longest sieges in medieval English history

1294 – Saint Celestine V abdicates the papacy after only five months; Celestine hoped to return to his previous life as an ascetic hermit.

1355 – The greatest traveller of his age, Ibn Battuta of Tangier completes his work “The Travels” detailing his 29 years spent travelling the Islamic world and beyond, including to India, China and Indonesia

1541 – John III succeeds his father as King of Portugal and the Algarves, at age 19; reigns for 36 years, until his death in 1557

1577 – Five ships under the command of Sir Francis Drake left Plymouth, England, to embark on Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe. The journey took almost three years.

1636 – The United States National Guard was created when militia regiments were organized by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1642 – New Zealand was discovered by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman.

1643 – English Civil War: The Battle of Alton takes place in Hampshire.

1732 – Prussia joins Austria and Russia in signing the Treaty of Berlin, a secret treaty regarding succession to the Polish throne

1774 – Paul Revere and Wentworth Cheswell ride to warn Portsmouth of the approach of British warships

1809 – The first abdominal surgical procedure was performed in Danville, KY, on Jane Todd Crawford. The operation was performed without an anesthetic.

1862 – In America, an estimated 11,000 Northern soldiers were killed or wounded when Union forces were defeated by Confederates under General Robert E. Lee, at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

1864 – War of the Triple Alliance: Paraguay officially declares war on Brazil, invades the next day

1879 – First federal fish hatching steamer launched (Wilmington Delaware)

1883 – The border between Ontario and Manitoba was established.

1903 – Italo Marcioni patents the ice cream cone (NJ)

1913 – It was announced by authorities in Florence, Italy, that the “Mona Lisa” had been recovered. The work was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1911.

1918 – U.S. President Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit a European country while holding office.

1920 – F Pease’s interferometer measures first stellar diameter (Betelgeuse)

1921 – Britain, France, Japan and the United States signed the Pacific Treaty.

1928 – Clip-on tie designed

1937 – Japanese forces took the Chinese city of Nanking (Nanjing). An estimated 200,000 Chinese were killed over the next six weeks. The event became known as the “Rape of Nanking.”

1938 – “Aryanization” decree is enacted, all Jewish property is transferred to Aryan possession

1941 – World War II: Hungary and Romania declare war on the United States.

1944 – During World War II, the U.S. cruiser Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze suicide attack. 138 people were killed in the attack.

1949 – The Knesset votes to move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem.

1961 – Gideon Hausner in Jerusalem demands death penalty for Adolf Eichmann

1964 – In El Paso, TX, President Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz set off an explosion that diverted the Rio Grande River, reshaping the U.S.-Mexican border. This ended a century-old border dispute.

1966 – The rights to the first four Super Bowls were sold to CBS and NBC for total of $9.5 million.

1967 – Constantine II of Greece attempts an unsuccessful counter-coup against the Regime of the Colonels

1972 – Apollo program: Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt begin the third and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) or “”Moonwalk”” of Apollo 17. This was the last manned mission to the moon of the 20th century.

1977 – A DC-3 aircraft chartered from the Indianapolis-based National Jet crashes near Evansville Regional Airport, killing 29, including the University of Evansville basketball team, support staff and boosters of the team

1979 – Saudi Arabia raises marker crude price to $24 per barrel

1980 – Three days after a disputed general election, Uganda’s President Milton Obote was returned to office.

1981 – Authorities in Poland imposed martial law in an attempt to crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. Martial law ended formally in 1983.

1982 – The Sentry Armored Car Company in New York discovered that $11 million had been stolen from its headquarters overnight. It was the biggest cash theft in U.S. history.

1987 – U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark, that the Reagan administration would begin making funding requests for the proposed Star Wars defense system.

1988 – PLO chairman Yasser Arafat addressed the U.N. General Assembly in Geneva, where it had reconvened after the United States had refused to grant Arafat a visa to visit New York.

1988 – A bankruptcy judge in Columbia, SC, ordered the assets of the troubled PTL television ministry sold to a Toronto real estate developer for $65 million.

1989 – South African President F.W. de Klerk met for the first time with imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, at de Klerk’s office in Cape Town.

1991 – Five Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union agreed to join the new Commonwealth of Independent States.

1993 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people must receive a hearing before property linked to illegal drug sales can be seized.

1995 – China’s most influential democracy activist, Wei Jingsheng, who already had spent 16 years in prison, was sentenced to 14 more years.

1998 – Puerto Rican voters rejected U.S. statehood in a non-binding referendum.

2000 – Seven convicts, the “Texas 7,” escaped from Connally Unit in Kenedy, TX, southeast of San Antonio, by overpowering civilian workers and prison employees. They fled with stolen clothing, pickup truck and 16 guns and ammunition.

2001 – Gunmen stormed the Indian Parliament and killed seven people and injured 18. Security forces killed the attackers during a 90-minute gunbattle.


2003 – Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit


2004 – Former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet is put under house arrest, after being sued under accusations over 9 kidnapping actions and manslaughter. The house arrest is lifted the same day on appeal.

2012 – A car bombing in Qatana, outside Damascus, kills 16 people and injures 12

2014 – The British Government announces it will send hundreds of troops to Iraq, to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the conflict with Islamic State

2017 – Prehistoric bones of a penguin as tall as a human (1.77m) found on Otago beach, New Zealand, reported in “Nature Communications”

2018 – US Senate passes non-binding “war powers resolution” against long-term ally Saudi Arabia

2021 – 1 in a 100 Americans aged over 65 has now died of COVID-19, or 75% of total deaths, according to the CDC

2022 – First nuclear fusion reaction in a laboratory setting, replicating the same energy that powers the sun – announced by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California

REFERENCE: history.net, onthisday.com, thepeopleshistory.com, timeanddate.com, scopesys.com, on-this-day.com


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