Today in History for December 19

Today is Thursday, Dec. 19, the 353rd day of 2013. There are 12 days left in the year.

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013  |  Updated 6:03 AM EDT
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Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 19, 1843, "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens, was first published in England.

On this date:

In 1777, Gen. George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, Pa., to camp for the winter.

In 1813, British forces captured Fort Niagara during the War of 1812.

In 1910, the artificial fiber rayon was first commercially produced by the American Viscose Co. of Marcus Hook, Pa.

In 1932, the British Broadcasting Corp. began transmitting overseas with its Empire Service to Australia.

In 1946, war broke out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launched widespread attacks against the French.

In 1950, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was named commander of the military forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In 1961, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., 73, suffered a debilitating stroke while in Palm Beach, Fla.

In 1972, Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific, winding up the Apollo program of manned lunar landings.

In 1974, Nelson A. Rockefeller was sworn in as the 41st vice president of the United States.

In 1984, a fire at the Wilberg Mine near Orangeville, Utah, killed 27 people. Britain and China signed an accord returning Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

In 1986, Lawrence E. Walsh was appointed independent counsel to investigate the Iran-Contra affair.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House for perjury and obstruction of justice (he was later acquitted by the Senate).

Ten years ago: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to halt his nation's drive to develop nuclear and chemical weapons. Design plans were unveiled for the signature skyscraper — a 1,776-foot glass tower — at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City. Death claimed actress Hope Lange at age 70 and actor Les Tremayne at age 90.

Five years ago: Citing imminent danger to the national economy, President George W. Bush ordered an emergency bailout of the U.S. auto industry. An unwavering Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich served notice he had no intention of quitting over his corruption arrest, declaring: "I have done nothing wrong." Militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel as Hamas ended a six-month truce.

One year ago: Spurred by the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, President Barack Obama vowed to send Congress new policy proposals for reducing gun violence by Jan. 2013. Four State Department officials resigned under pressure, less than a day after a damning report blamed management failures for a lack of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, where militants killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Park Geun-hye, daughter of late South Korean President Park Chung-hee, was elected the country's first female president. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was voted Associated Press coach of the year after leading the Fighting Irish to a spot in the BCS championship game. Legal scholar and onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork died in Arlington, Va., at age 85.

Today's Birthdays: Country singer Little Jimmy Dickens is 93. Actress Cicely Tyson is 79. Rhythm-and-blues singer-musician Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 72. Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is 72. Actress Elaine Joyce is 70. Actor Tim Reid is 69. Paleontologist Richard E. Leakey is 69. Musician John McEuen is 68. Singer Janie Fricke is 66. Jazz musician Lenny White is 64. Actor Mike Lookinland is 53. Actress Jennifer Beals is 50. Actor Scott Cohen is 49. Actor Robert MacNaughton is 47. Magician Criss Angel is 46. Rock musician Klaus Eichstadt (Ugly Kid Joe) is 46. Rock musician Kevin Shepard is 45. Actress Kristy Swanson is 44. Model Tyson Beckford is 43. Actress Amy Locane is 42. Actress Rosa Blasi is 41. Actress Alyssa Milano is 41. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is 33. Actress Marla Sokoloff is 33. Rapper Lady Sovereign is 28. Actor Iain de Caestecker (TV: "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D") is 26.

Thought for Today: "I never could see why people were so happy about Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' because I never had any confidence that Scrooge was going to be different the next day." — Dr. Karl Menninger, American psychiatrist (1893-1990).

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