On December 18:
1271 Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China.
1620 – The Mayflower landed in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts with 102 Pilgrims on board.
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)
1642 Abel Tasman and his men had the first known European encounter with Maori.
1707 Charles Wesley, English Methodist hymnist, was born.
1777 The United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the Americans over General John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga in October.
1778 Joseph Grimaldi, English clown, was born.
1849 Henrietta Edwards, Canadian women’s rights activist, was born.
1863 Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, was born.
1878 Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, was born.
1888 – Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law discovered the ancient Indian ruins of Mesa Verde.
1890 Edwin Armstrong, American inventor (FM radio) was born.
1898 Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat set the new land speed record going 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h), in a Jeantaud electric car. This is the first recognized land speed record.
1900 The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook Narrow-gauge (2 ft 6 in or 762 mm) Railway (now the Puffing Billy Railway) in Victoria, Australia opened.
The Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge.
1905 – Irving Kahn, American financial analyst and investor, was born.
1908 Celia Johnson, English actress, was born.
1910 – Eric Tindill, New Zealand cricketer and rugby player, was born.
1912 The Piltdown Man, later discovered to be a hoax, was found in the Piltdown Gravel Pit, by Charles Dawson.
1913 Willy Brandt, Chancellor of Germany, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born.
1916 Betty Grable, American actress, was born.
1935 Jacques Pépin, French chef, was born.
1938 Chas Chandler, English musician (The Animals), was born.
1943 Keith Richards, English guitarist (The Rolling Stones), was born.
1946 Steve Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist, was born.
1946 – Steven Spielberg, American film director, was born.
1963 Brad Pitt, American actor, was born.
1966 Saturn‘s moon Epimetheus is discovered by Richard L. Walker.
1969 Home Secretary James Callaghan‘s motion to make permanent the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, which had temporarily suspended capital punishment in England, Wales and Scotland for murder (but not for all crimes) for a period of five years, was carried by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
1973 Soyuz 13, crewed by cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk, was launched from Baikonur in the Soviet Union.
1987 Larry Wall released the first version of the Perl programming language.
1997 HTML 4.0 was published by the World Wide Web Consortium.
1999 NASA launched into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.