On Dec. 14, 1799, the first president of the United States, George Washington, died at his Mount Vernon, Virginia, home at age 67.
In 1819, Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.
In 1861, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, died at Windsor Castle at age 42.
In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (ROH’-ahl AH’-mun-suhn) and his team became the first men to reach the South Pole, beating out a British expedition led by Robert F. Scott.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson vetoed an immigration measure aimed at preventing “undesirables” and anyone born in the “Asiatic Barred Zone” from entering the U.S. (Congress overrode Wilson’s veto in February 1917.)
In 1939, the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations for invading Finland.
In 1961, a school bus was hit by a passenger train at a crossing near Greeley, Colorado, killing 20 students.
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, ruled that Congress was within its authority to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against racial discrimination by private businesses (in this case, a motel that refused to cater to Blacks).
In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.
In 1985, former New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris, who’d hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, died in Houston at age 51.
In 2005, President George W. Bush defended his decision to wage the Iraq war, even as he acknowledged that “much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.”
In 2012, a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, then took his own life as police arrived; the 20-year-old had also fatally shot his mother at their home before carrying out the attack on the school.
In 2020, the Electoral College decisively confirmed Joe Biden as the nation’s next president, ratifying his November victory in a state-by-state repudiation of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede he had lost; electors gave Biden 306 votes to Trump’s 232. Speaking from Delaware, Biden accused Trump of threatening core principles of democracy, but told Americans that their form of self-government had “prevailed.” A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected Trump’s lawsuit seeking to overturn his loss in the battleground state about an hour before the Electoral College cast Wisconsin’s 10 votes for Biden.