On January 2, 1974 President Richard Nixon signed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act setting a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour (mph). Before this law was singed the speed limit was governed by the individual states, which had speed limits that ranged from 40 to 80 mph. In 1972 Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stopping shipping oil to the United States because they were protesting the the US’s support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War. OPEC also tripled prices for the US. This action sent the US and European economies into a recession. The new 55 speed limit was deemed more fuel-efficient, thereby curbing the U.S. appetite for foreign oil.
Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in 45BC and fixed January 1 as the first day of the year. It is now marked with celebrations in many cultures. It marks the new calendar year and the calendar’s year count is increased by one. Roman dictator, Julius Caesar changed the traditional Roman calendar because he felt it was in dire need of reform. The previous calendar, the Roman calendar, attempted to follow the lunar cycle but frequently fell out of phase with the seasons and had to be corrected often.
He year was calculated to be 365 and 1/4 days, and Caesar added 67 days to 45 B.C., making 46 B.C. begin on January 1, rather than in March. He also decreed that every four years a day be added to February, thus theoretically keeping his calendar from falling out of step. Shortly before his assassination in 44 B.C., he changed the name of the month Quintilis to Julius (July) after himself. Later, the month of Sextilis was renamed Augustus (August) after his successor. – History
In 1878, Edison formed the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City with backers that included J. P. Morgan and the members of the Vanderbilt family. He made the first public demonstration of his incandescent light bulb on December 31, 1879, in Menlo Park.
Edison was an American inventor and businessman. H invented many different things. He is often referred to as the wizard of Menlo Park. He was one of the first men to create an industrial research laboratory.
Texas was admitted to the Union on December 29, 1845 as the 28th state of the United States of America. Texas is the second largest state as far as population currently at 26.1 million (2012 est.) and the second largest by land (after Alaska) at 269,000 square miles. Texas sought statehood as early as 1837. But it was not until James Polk became president in March of 1845 that things stated to progress.
I plan on adding more to this entry all the time. Have a suggestion? Please post it in the comments.
On this day (December 27) in 1904 the play Peter Pan also known as the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy. The play debuted with Nina Boucicault, daughter of playwright Dion Boucicault, in the title role. The story of Peter Pan is one of a mischievous little boy who can fly, and his adventures on the island of Neverland with Wendy Darling and her three brothers, the fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, the Indian princess Tiger Lily, and the pirate Captain Hook with his crew. Peter Pan is also a book by J. M. Barrie.
The play took place at the Duke of York’s Theatre. Tinker Bell was represented on stage by a darting light. The most successful in the U.S. has been an American musical version first produced on Broadway in 1954 starring Mary Martin, which was later videotaped for television and rebroadcast several times.
In 1945 famous gangster Bugsy Siegel and his group came to Las Vegas to take advantage of the legalized gambling and off-track betting. Siegel wanted more, he wanted a place of his own in Vegas. He started by purchasing the El Cortez on Fremont, but city officials, who knew about his criminal background wouldn’t let him expand like he wanted to. Then the heard that William Wilderson was looking for additional investors for his new property about 7 miles outside downtown Vegas. Siegel and his partners bought two-thirds of the project and began construction. Since he had no idea what he was doing construction costs skyrocketed due to rampant over billing and theft.
Eventually, the Flamingo, named after Siegel’s girlfriend, was opened on December 26, 1946.
We have celebrated many Christmas with our listeners from the podcast and the readers of this blog. Back in 2005 we created a history podcast just for Christmas (number 39). In the newsletter I sent out on Saturday night you also learned about Christmas Island. There is much more to that story so follow the link for the whole thing. In 2007 we ran an article about all the myths surrounding this holiday. That was one of those Top 5 type post that are total link bait, I know.
In addition to all that cool stuff there is to read and listen to about Christmas history I thought this year I would add just a bit more for you to read up on.
Skip to 0:28.
In 1914 there was a Christmas Truce. These were unofficial cease fires that took place across many different battle fields during Christmas day 1914 in the middle of World War I, or as it was called then, The Great War. There is a movie about it called Joyeux Noel. If you have Amazon Instant you can watch it right now for free. I couldn’t find it on Netflix instant.
It’s December 23, 1888 and you are a suffering painter. Your a little depressed, what do you do? Cut off your ear? Thats what our painter friend Van Gogh did. The story used to go that he cut it off in a fury after a fight with his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin. But an ABC story in 2009 says it didn’t go down that way. Instead a theory presented by Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans in their book Van Goghs Ohr, says that it was Gauguin, a skilled fencer who cut of Van Gogh’s ear during the argument and that Gogh would not rat on his friend so most of us know the story like this:
the disturbed Dutch painter severed his left ear lobe with a razor blade in a fit of lunacy after he had a row with Gauguin one evening shortly before Christmas 1888. Bleeding heavily, van Gogh then wrapped it in cloth, walked to a nearby bordello and presented the severed ear to a prostitute, who fainted when he handed it to her. He then went home to sleep in a blood-drenched bed, where he almost bled to death, before police, alerted by the prostitute, found him the next morning. He was unconscious and immediately taken to the local hospital, where he asked to see his friend Gauguin when he woke up, but Gauguin refused to see him. -ABC article
Either way today is the day that happened. Ouch! Van Gogh died in 1890 just two years after losing his ear. He died of a self-inflicted shotgun shot to the head. Makes the whole story of cutting off his own ear a little more believable huh? Gauguin died in 1903.
Pan Am Flight 103 (aka Lockerbie bombing) was a flight from London to JFK airport in Queens New York. It was destroyed over Lockerbie, Scotland by a bomb on Wednesday, December, 21, 1988. The bombing took all lives aboard the plane (243 passengers and 16 crew members) as well as 11 additional people on the ground. After a 3 year investigation two Libyan nationals were fingered as the perpetrators. Murder warrants were issued for them in November 1991. One of the murders was located and jailed in 2001. In 2009 he was released after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He died in 2012.
In 2003 Libyan leader Colonel Mummar Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to the families. To date the incident remains the deadliest act of terrorism to have occurred in the United Kingdom.
The motive that is generally attributed to Libya can be traced back to a series of military confrontations with the US Navy that took place in the 1980s in the Gulf of Sidra, the whole of which Libya claimed as its territorial waters. – Wikipedia
Compensation of 8 million per family was given to each family. Of that 2.5 million was taken out for legal fees. There is a very extensive article at Wikipedia about this subject. I recommend anyone interested to check it out and/or the books listed below.
Already the most well-known name in the entertainment business when he was drafted, Elvis Presley severed in the US Army from March 1958 to March 1960. He was drafted on December 20, 1957. He was not happy about it. The Army, Navy and the Pentagon approached Presley with special offers, to do tours and cheer up the troops in different locations around the world. These positions were considered “celebrity wimp outs”, and Presley wanted none of that. He entered the war as a regular GI. Presley was able to defer entering the war until after King Creole was filmed.