Today in history
On Dec. 8, 1765, Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, was born in Westboro, Mass.
In 1776 George Washington’s retreating army crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania during the American Revolution.
In 1854 Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was free of original sin from the moment she was conceived.
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln announced his plan for the reconstruction of the South.
In 1886 the American Federation of Labor was founded in Columbus, Ohio. Also in 1886 painter Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato, Mexico.
In 1914 “Watch Your Step,” the first musical revue to feature a score composed entirely by Irving Berlin, opened in New York.
In 1925 singer, dancer and actor Sammy Davis Jr. was born in New York.
In 1941 the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Japan, a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In 1978 former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir died in Jerusalem; she was 80.
In 1980 former Beatles guitarist and songwriter John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by a deranged fan; Lennon was 40.
In 1987 Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories began an intifada, or uprising. Also in 1987 President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a treaty calling for destruction of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
In 1993 President Bill Clinton signed into U.S. law the North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect at the start of 1994.
In 1996 the Serbian Supreme Court ruled against opposition parties who said Slobodan Milosevic had robbed them of an election victory in Belgrade.
In 1999 a Memphis jury hearing a lawsuit filed by Martin Luther King Jr.’s family found that the civil rights leader had been the victim of a vast murder conspiracy, not a lone assassin.
In 2000 a divided Florida Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, ordered an immediate hand count of about 45,000 disputed presidential ballots and put Democrat Al Gore within 154 votes of George W. Bush.