On This Day … 22 December


  • AD 69 – Vespasian is proclaimed Emperor of Rome; his predecessor, Vitellius, attempts to abdicate but is captured and killed at the Gemonian stairs.
  • 880 – Luoyang, eastern capital of the Tang dynasty, is captured by rebel leader Huang Chao during the reign of Emperor Xizong.
  • 1135 – Nearly three weeks after the death of King Henry I of England, Stephen of Blois claims the throne and is privately crowned King of England.
  • 1769 – Sino-Burmese War: The war ends with an uneasy truce.
  • 1790 – The Turkish fortress of Izmail is stormed and captured by Alexander Suvorov and his Russian armies.
  • 1807 – The Embargo Act, forbidding trade with all foreign countries, is passed by the US Congress, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Savannah, Georgia, falls to the forces of General Sherman.
  • 1885 – Itō Hirobumi, a samurai, becomes the first Prime Minister of Japan.
  • 1888 – The Christmas Meeting of 1888, considered to be the official start of the Faroese independence movement.
  • 1894 – The Dreyfus affair begins in France, when Alfred Dreyfus is wrongly convicted of treason.
  • 1939 – Indian Muslims observe a “Day of Deliverance” to celebrate the resignations of members of the Indian National Congress over their not having been consulted over the decision to enter World War II with the United Kingdom.
  • 1940 – World War II: Himara is captured by the Greek army.
  • 1942 – World War II: Adolf Hitler signs the order to develop the V-2 rocket as a weapon.
  • 1944 – World War II: Battle of the Bulge: German troops demand the surrender of United States troops at Bastogne, Belgium, prompting the famous one word reply by General Anthony McAuliffe: “Nuts!”
  • 1944 – World War II: The Vietnam People’s Army is formed to resist Japanese occupation of Indochina, now Vietnam.
  • 1948 – Sjafruddin Prawiranegara established the Emergency Government of the Republic of Indonesia (Pemerintah Darurat Republik Indonesia, PDRI) in West Sumatra.
  • 1964 – The first test flight of the SR-71 (Blackbird) takes place at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, United States.
  • 1965 – In the United Kingdom, a 70 mph speed limit is applied to all rural roads including motorways for the first time.
  • 1974 – Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli vote to become the independent nation of Comoros.
    • Mayotte remains under French administration.
  • 1974 – The house of former British Prime Minister Edward Heath is attacked by members of the Provisional IRA.
  • 1978 – The pivotal Third Plenum of the 11th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is held in Beijing, with Deng Xiaoping reversing Mao-era policies to pursue a programme for Chinese economic reform.
  • 1987 – In Zimbabwe, the political parties ZANU and ZAPU reach an agreement that ends the violence in the Matabeleland region known as the Gukurahundi.
  • 1989 – Communist President of Romania Nicolae Ceaușescu is overthrown by Ion Iliescu after days of bloody confrontations.
    • The deposed dictator and his wife flee Bucharest in a helicopter as protesters erupt in cheers
  • 1989 – Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate re-opens after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany.
  • 1990 – Final independence of Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia after termination of trusteeship.
  • 1997 – Acteal massacre: Attendees at a prayer meeting of Roman Catholic activists for indigenous causes in the small village of Acteal in the Mexican state of Chiapas are massacred by paramilitary forces.
  • 1997 – Hussein Farrah Aidid relinquishes the disputed title of President of Somalia by signing the Cairo Declaration, in Cairo, Egypt.
    • It is the first major step towards reconciliation in Somalia since 1991.
  • 2001 – Burhanuddin Rabbani, political leader of the Northern Alliance, hands over power in Afghanistan to the interim government headed by President Hamid Karzai.
  • 2010 – The repeal of the Don’t ask, don’t tell policy, the 17-year-old policy banning homosexuals serving openly in the United States military, is signed into law by President Barack Obama.
  • 2017 – United Nations Security Council Resolution 2397 against North Korea is unanimously approved.
  • Armed Forces Day (Vietnam).

People (Births)

  • 948 – Gang Gam-chan, Korean official and general (d. 1031).
  • 1546 – Kuroda Yoshitaka, Japanese daimyō (d. 1604).
  • 1696 – James Oglethorpe, English general and politician, 1st Colonial Governor of Georgia (d. 1785).
  • 1850 – Victoriano Huerta, Mexican general and politician, 35th President of Mexico (d. 1916).
  • 1878 – Myer Prinstein, Polish-American jumper (d. 1925).
  • 1883 – Marcus Hurley, American cyclist (d. 1941).
  • 1889 – George Hutson, English runner and soldier (d. 1914).
  • 1912 – Elias Degiannis, Greek commander (d. 1943).
  • 1913 – Giorgio Oberweger, Italian discus thrower and hurdler (d. 1998).
  • 1922 – Jim Wright, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 56th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (d. 2015).
  • 1930 – Ardalion Ignatyev, Russian sprinter and educator (d. 1998).
  • 1931 – Gisela Birkemeyer, German hurdler and coach.
  • 1948 – Don Kardong, American runner, journalist, and author.
  • 1951 – Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, Anglo-Irish Territorial Army general, landowner, businessman, philanthropist, and hereditary peer (d. 2016).
  • 1961 – Yuri Malenchenko, Russian colonel, pilot, and astronaut.
  • 1965 – Urszula Włodarczyk, Polish heptathlete and triple jumper.
  • 1966 – Dmitry Bilozerchev, Russian gymnast and coach.
  • 1969 – Myriam Bédard, Canadian biathlete.
  • 1976 – Katleen De Caluwé, Belgian sprinter.
  • 1982 – Rodney Martin, American sprinter.
  • 1983 – Viola Kibiwot, Kenyan runner.

People (Deaths)

  • AD 69 – Vitellius, Roman emperor (b. 15).
  • 1853 – Manuel María Lombardini, Mexican general and politician. President (1853) (b. 1802).
  • 1918 – Aristeidis Moraitinis, Greek lieutenant and pilot (b. 1891).
  • 1919 – Hermann Weingärtner, German gymnast (b. 1864).
  • 2006 – Elena Mukhina, Russian gymnast (b. 1960).
  • 2018 – Simcha Rotem, last survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (b. 1924).

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