65 BC Horace, Roman poet, was born (d. 8 BC).
1432 – The first battle between the forces of Švitrigaila and Sigismund Kęstutaitis was fought near the town of Oszmiana (Ashmyany), launching the most active phase of the civil war in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
1542 Mary Queen of Scots, was born (d. 1587).
1609 The Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan opened its reading room, the second public library in Europe.
1660 Margaret Hughes became the first actress to appear on an English public stage, playing the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare’s play Othello.
1765 – Eli Whitney, American inventor of the cotton gin, was born (d. 1825).
1854 – In his Apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogmatic definition of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was born free of original sin.
1864 The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon was officially opened.
1865 Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer, was born (d. 1957).
1886 Diego Rivera, Mexican painter, was born (d. 1957).
1894 E.C. Segar, American cartoonist (Popeye), was born (d. 1938).
1894 James Thurber, American humorist and cartoonist, was born (d. 1961).
1904 Konservativ Ungdom (Young Conservatives) was founded by Carl F. Herman von Rosen. It is the oldest political youth organization in Denmark and believed to be one of the oldest in the world.
1925 Sammy Davis Jr., American actor and singer, was born (d. 1990).
1933 Flip Wilson, American comedian, was born (d. 1998).
1939 Sir James Galway, Northern Irish flautist, was born.
1941 New Zealand declared war on Japan.
1941 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 7 to be “a day which will live in infamy“, after which the U.S. and the Republic of China declared war against Japan.
1942 A fire at Seacliff Hospital killed 37 people.
1951 – Bill Bryson, American author, was born.
1953 Kim Basinger, American actress, was born.
1953 – United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his Atoms for Peace speech, and the U.S. launched its “Atoms for Peace” programme that supplied equipment and information to schools, hospitals, and research institutions around the world.
1963 – Pan Am Flight 214, a Boeing 707, was struck by positive lightning and crashed near Elkton, Maryland, killing all 81 people on board.
1966 Sinéad O’Connor, Irish musician, was born.
1966 – The Greek ship SS Heraklion sank in a storm in the Aegean Sea, killing over 200.
1972 – United Airlines Flight 553 crashed after aborting its landing attempt at Chicago Midway International Airport, killing 45.
1974 A plebiscite resulted in the abolition of monarchy in Greece.
1980 John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota apartment building in New York.
1987 – Croat Frank Vitkovic shotsand killed eight people at the offices of the Australia Post in Melbourne, before being killed himself.
1987 – The Alianza Lima air disaster – a Peruvian Navy Fokker F27-400M chartered by Peruvian football club Alianza Lima plunged into the Pacific Ocean six miles short of its destination, killing 43 of the 44 people on board.
1991 The leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.
1993 The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law by US President Bill Clinton.
1997 Jenny Shipley became New Zealand’s first female Prime Minister.
199 – The Australian Cricket Board’s cover-up of Shane Warne and Mark Waugh’s involvement with bookmakers was revealed.
2004 The Cuzco Declaration was signed in Cuzco, Peru, establishing the South American Community of Nations.
2005 – Ante Gotovina, a Croatian army general accused of war crimes, was captured in the Playa de las Américas, Tenerife by the Spanish police.
2008 Kirsty Williams was elected as Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. The first female leader of a political party in Wales.
2009 Bombings in Baghdad, killed 127 and injured 448.
2010 – With the second launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the first launch of the SpaceX Dragon, SpaceX became the first privately held company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.
2010 – The Japanese solar-sail spacecraft IKAROS passed the planet Venus at a distance of about 80,800 km.
2013 – Riots broke out in Singapore after a fatal accident in Little India.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.