On This Day In History: December 4

There are some moments in history that stand out more than others. Today in History is a chance to look at some of the more memorable moments, whether it is in crime, politics or even natural disasters.

On December 4, the following happened around the world.

John C. Brekinridge

1861: John C. Brekinridge Expelled From the Senate

Senator John C. Brekinridge joined the Confederate Army, leading to the U.S. Senate to vote unanimously to expel him on this day. A year later, on the same day, Winchester, VA fell into Union hands with 145 Confederate soldiers being arrested. The year after that, Charleston, SC faced the first of seven days of bombardment, with at least 1,307 rounds fired by Union soldiers. On the same day, Queen Victoria of Great Britain forbid the export of firearms, gunpowder and materials used for production.

1872: The Mary Celeste Mysterious Abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean

The American ship, the Mary Celeste, was found by the British brig, the Dei Gratia. Not a strange sighting at first, except that she was sailing erratically at full sail. On this day in history, Captain David Morehouse of the Dei Gratia and his crew embarked the Mary Celeste to find her completely abandoned. There was some water in the hold and all the lifeboats were gone. All food and water was still onboard. The last log from Captain Benjamin S. Brigs was nine days earlier, and 500 miles away from where the ship was found. Nobody knows why the crew disembarked and nobody was ever found.

1917: W.H. Rivers Reports on Shell Shock

Shell shock affected around 80,000 soldiers during the First World War. The term was first officially used in 1917, due to the physical damage from the bombings. W.H. Rivers gave his first report on shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital, near Edinburgh, on this day in history. The hospital was one where most soldiers went for psychological treatment.

1945: Senate Approves U.S. Joining United Nations

Despite the United nations being created on October 24, 1945, it was not until December 4 that the United States joined. The Senate approved full participation with a vote of 65-7. The country joined the United Kingdom, China, France and the Soviet Union, and the United Nations was a forum for many debates and episodes during the Cold War.

1952: 4,000 Deaths in England Caused By Heavy Smog

December 4, 1952 was the first of four days of heavy smog in London, England. Cold air had suddenly arrived, and London was trapped. Low temperatures meant that residents burned more coal, and that led to more sulphur dioxide and soot in the air. The first death did not officially occur until December 5—due to suffocation—but the smog started the day before. Thousands died, mostly in their sleep, over the course of the next four days. The deaths led to stricter regulations to encourage people to not use coal in their furnaces. That did not stop the deaths of 100 people 10 years later due to similar issues.

1991: Terry Anderson Released By Islamic Militants

Amanda KnoxTerry Anderson had been held in captivity for 2,454 days in Lebanon by Islamic militants, after being kidnapped while leaving a tennis court. He had been covering the civil war in the country. On this day, he was released from his underground dungeon. The release was linked U.S. relations improving with a number of foreign influences in the civil war. Iran helped to influence the release of nearly all 92 foreign hostages—17 of them Americans—throughout 1991. Anderson went onto sue the Iranian government for $100 million, saying it sponsored those involved in his kidnapping. He received a settlement offer.

2009: Amanda Knox Convicted of Murder

Amanda Knox was convicted of the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher. The murder had taken place in Perugia, Italy two years earlier. She was sentenced to 26 years in prison, but was released after the conviction was overturned in 2011. Since then, the Italian courts have found her guilty again, but she is now living back home in Seattle with her family and has no intention of returning to Italy.

Famous Birthdays on December 4

Puritan clergyman John Cotton–1584

Historian Thomas Carlyle–1795

Actress Lillian Russell–1861

Poet Rainer Maria Rilke–1875

Actor and director Max Baer, Jr.–1937

Singer and songwriter Chris Hillman–1944



Featured image from Deposit Photos

Birthdays from HistoryNet.com

Image of John C. Brekinridge in the public domain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Breckinridge#/media/File:John_C_Breckinridge-04775-restored.jpg

Image of Amanda Knox by Scot335: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Knox#/media/File:Corrado_maria_daclon_-_amanda_knox.jpg (used under the CC-3.0 license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

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