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 19 is the 353rd day of the year (354th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 12 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine publishes The American Crisis.
These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
When these phrases appeared in the pages of the Pennsylvania Journal for the first time, General George Washington’s troops were encamped at McKonkey’s Ferry on the Delaware River opposite Trenton, New Jersey. In August, they had suffered humiliating defeats and lost New York City to British troops. Between September and December, 11,000 American volunteers gave up the fight and returned to their families. General Washington could foresee the destiny of a rebellion without an army if the rest of his men returned home when their service contracts expired on December 31. He knew that without an upswing in morale and a significant victory, the American Revolution would come to a swift and humiliating end.
Thomas Paine was similarly astute. His Common Sense was the clarion call that began the revolution. As Washington’s troops retreated from New York through New Jersey, Paine again rose to the challenge of literary warfare. With American Crisis, he delivered the words that would salvage the revolution.
The American Crisis was a series of pamphlets published from 1776 to 1783 during the American Revolution by eighteenth century Enlightenment philosopher and author Thomas Paine. Thirteen numbered pamphlets were published between 1776-1777 with three additional pamphlets released between 1777-1783. The writings were contemporaneous with the early parts of the American Revolution, during the times that colonists needed inspiring.
They were written in a language the common man could manage and are indicative of Paine’s liberal philosophies. Paine signed them with one of his many pseudonyms “Common Sense”. The writings bolstered the morale of the American colonists, appealed to the English people’s consideration of the war with America, clarified the issues at stake in the war and denounced the advocates of a negotiated peace.
211 – Publius Septimius Geta, co-emperor of Rome, is lured to come without his bodyguards to meet his brother Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla), to discuss a possible reconciliation. When he arrives the Praetorian Guard murders him and he dies in the arms of his mother Julia Domna.
324 – Licinius abdicates his position as Roman Emperor.
1154 – Henry II of England is crowned at Westminster Abbey.
1490 – Anne, Duchess of Brittany, is married to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor by proxy.
1606 – The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery depart England carrying settlers who found, at Jamestown, Virginia, the first of the thirteen colonies that became the United States.
1776 – Thomas Paine publishes one of a series of pamphlets in the Pennsylvania Journal titled The American Crisis.
1777 – American Revolutionary War: George Washington’s Continental Army goes into winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
1796 – French Revolutionary Wars: Two British frigates under Commodore Horatio Nelson and two Spanish frigates under Commodore Don Jacobo Stuart engage in battle off the coast of Murcia.
1828 – Nullification Crisis: Vice President of the United States John C. Calhoun pens the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, protesting the Tariff of 1828.
1835 – The first issue of The Blade newspaper is published in Toledo, Ohio.
1900 – Hopetoun Blunder: The first Governor-General of Australia John Hope, 7th Earl of Hopetoun, appointed Sir William Lyne as premier of the new state New South Wales, but he was unable to persuade other colonial politicians to join his government and was forced to resign.
1907 – A group of 239 coal miners die during a mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania.
1912 – William H. Van Schaick, captain of the steamship General Slocum which caught fire and killed over 1,000 people, is pardoned by U.S. President William Howard Taft after three-and-a-half-years in Sing Sing prison.
1916 – World War I: Battle of Verdun – On the Western Front, the French Army successfully holds off the German Army and drives it back to its starting position.
1920 – King Constantine I is restored as King of the Hellenes after the death of his son Alexander I of Greece and a plebiscite.
1924 – The last Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is sold in London, England.
1932 – BBC World Service begins broadcasting as the BBC Empire Service
1941 – World War II: Adolf Hitler becomes Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army.
1941 – World War II: Limpet mines placed by Italian divers sink the HMS Valiant (1914) and HMS Queen Elizabeth (1913) in Alexandria harbour.
1946 – Start of the First Indochina War.
1956 – Irish-born physician John Bodkin Adams is arrested in connection with the suspicious deaths of more than 160 patients.
Eventually he is convicted only of minor charges.
1961 – India annexes Daman and Diu, part of Portuguese India.
1963 – Zanzibar gains independence from the United Kingdom as a constitutional monarchy, under Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah.
1964 – The South Vietnamese military junta of Nguyen Khanh dissolved the High National Council and arrested some of the members.
1967 – Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt is officially presumed dead.
1972 – Apollo program: The last manned lunar flight, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans and Harrison Schmitt, returns to Earth.
1975 – John Paul Stevens is appointed a justice of The United States Supreme Court.
1983 – The original FIFA World Cup trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, is stolen from the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro.
1984 – The Sino-British Joint Declaration, stating that the People’s Republic of China would resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the United Kingdom would restore Hong Kong to China with effect from July 1, 1997 is signed in Beijing by Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher.
1986 – Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, releases Andrei Sakharov and his wife from internal exile in Gorky.
1995 – The United States Government restores federal recognition to the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indian tribe.
1997 – SilkAir Flight 185 crashes into the Musi River, near Palembang in Indonesia, killing 104.
1998 – Lewinsky scandal: The United States House of Representatives forwards articles I and III of impeachment against President Bill Clinton to the Senate.
2000 – The Leninist Guerrilla Units wing of the Communist Labour Party of Turkey/Leninist attack a Nationalist Movement Party office in Istanbul, killing one person and injuring three.
2001 – A record high barometric pressure of 1085.6 hPa (32.06 inHg) is recorded at Tosontsengel, Khovsgol Province, Mongolia.
2001 – Argentine economic crisis: December 2001 riots – Riots erupt in Buenos Aires.
2010 – Sachin Tendulkar scores a record-breaking 50th Century in Test Cricket against South Africa at the SuperSport Park in Centurion, Gauteng.
2010 – Rahul Dravid crosses the 12000 runs milestone in Test Cricket against South Africa at the SuperSport Park in Centurion, Gauteng.
2012 – Park Geun-hye becomes the first female elected President of South Korea
* Christian Feast Day:
o O Radix
* Liberation day (Goa)
* Opalia (Roman Empire)
* United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation (International)