1812 - In their retreat from Moscow, the remnants of Napoleon's Grand Armee crossed the River Berezina; 10,000 stragglers were left behind.
1859 - A flying trapeze act was performed for the first time in a circus.
1867 - A major eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy began and lasted for several months.
1893 - An agreement was signed between Afghanistan and Britain marking the boundary between Afghan tribal lands and British territories.
1912 - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Canalejas was assassinated by anarchist gunman Manuel Pardinas, who then shot himself.
1912 - A search party found the remains of British explorer Captain Robert Scott and his companions after the ill-fated South Pole expedition.
1915 - Harvard University's Theodore W. Richards became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry. He was given his award in Stockholm, Sweden.
1918 - Austria was declared an independent republic, one day after the end of World War I.
1919 - The first flight from England to Australia, flown by Ross and Keith Smith, took off from Hounslow, near London. They landed at Darwin on December 13.
1920 - Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis accepted a contract to be the first commissioner of baseball, taking office after the Black Sox scandal of 1919, remaining commissioner for seven years.
1923 - In Germany, Adolf Hitler was arrested for failed attempt to seize power.
1925 - Louis Armstrong began his world famous career when he recorded "My Heart".
1927 - Joseph Stalin became ruler of the Soviet Union.
1927 - After forty years in blue jerseys, Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish got a new uniform of bright green jerseys and stockings. They played against Army in New York City, and have been wearing the lucky green uniforms ever since.
1931 - In Toronto, Canada, Maple Leaf Gardens opened as the new home of the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs.
1940 - Walt Disney released "Fantasia"; called by one critic “As terrific as anything that has ever happened on the screen.”
1941 - On RCA Victor records, Hot Lips Page provided vocals for Artie Shaw’s very long and very slow version of "St. James Infirmary".
1942 - The naval battle of Guadalcanal began between Japanese and American forces during World War II.
1942 - The British Eighth Army under Gen. Bernard Montgomery captured Tobruk, Libya, taking at least 30,000 prisoners.
1944 - The German battleship Tirpitz, sister ship of the Bismarck and Hitler's last major warship, was sunk by Lancaster bombers at Tromso Fjord in northern Norway.
1946 - The first drive-up bank facility, with ten teller windows with slide-out drawers, opened at the Exchange National Bank in Chicago, Illinois.
1948 - A war crimes tribunal sentenced Japanese Premier Hideki Tojo and six other World War II Japanese leaders to death.
1954 - Ellis Island, the United States immigration station in New York harbor, closed after processing more than 20 million immigrants to the United States since 1892.
1955 - Jockeys Eddie Arcaro, Earl Sande, and George Woolf became the first three members of the Jockey Hall of Fame in Pimlico, Maryland.
1955 - The worst recorded attendance to a football game occurred in the Washington State vs San Jose State game at Pullman, Washington. The game was played as scheduled, despite high winds and a temperature of 0 degrees F. The total paid attendance was 1.
1967 - On Broadway, Pearl Bailey took over the lead role in the musical, "Hello Dolly". "Pearlie Mae", as Buck was called, was a hit.
1967 - The Detroit Lions set an NFL record by fumbling the football 11 times and losing it 5 of those times.
1968 - The United Nations General Assembly voted against admission of Communist China.
1969 - Author Alexander Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Soviet Writers Union for anti-social behavior.
1969 - The United States army announced for the first time that it was investigating William Calley for the alleged massacre of civilians at the Vietnamese village of My Lai in March, 1968.
1970 - After a successful run in London, Anthony Quayle starred in "Sleuth's" Broadway opening.
1970 - In East Pakistan a cyclone and tidal wave hit several districts, causing the deaths of at least 200,000 people.
1974 - South Africa was suspended from the United Nations General Assembly over its racial policies.
1977 - In West Germany Ingrid Schubert, a founding member of the Baader-Meinhof gang, committed suicide in her prison cell.
1979 - After Islamic students seized the United States Embassy in Tehran on November 4, President Jimmy Carter announced an immediate halt to all imports of Iranian oil.
1980 - John Lennon’s "Starting Over" was released featuring Lennon and Yoko kissing on the cover.
1981 - The space shuttle Columbia was launched for the second time; it was the first space vehicle to be used more than once.
1982 - Yuri Andropov was elected First Secretary of the Soviet Communist party following the death of Leonid Brezhnev.
1982 - Polish Solidarity union leader Lech Walesa was freed after 11 months detention in a state-owned hunting lodge.
1983 - Lionel Richie started the first of four consecutive weeks at #1 on the music charts as "All Night Long (All Night)" became the United States most popular song.
1984 - Joseph Allen became the first astronaut to rescue a satellite. Allen was on board the "Discovery" space shuttle to make the $35 million rescue.
1986 - For the first time in the history of the NBA both head coaches were absent from the game when coached K.C. Jones and Don Nelson were too sick to be at the Boston-Milwaukee game. The Boston Celtics had their 44th straight home victory as they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 124-116.
1990 - Emperor Akihito was enthroned in Japan.
1991 - Leroy Witucki, a 10-year police veteran in Indiana, pleaded guilty to stealing a pair of tickets to a George Thorogood rock concert off the body of a motorist killed in a car crash. He gave the tickets to a family member, who sold them to friends. Relatives of the crash victim were surprised when the ticket holders sat next to them at the concert 3 weeks after the fatal accident. Witucki resigned from the police force, and faced up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
1996 - 349 people were killed when a Saudi Arabian jumbo jet and a Kazakh airliner collided in mid-air over India.
1997 - The United Nations Security Council imposed new sanctions on Iraq for constraints being placed on United Nations arms inspectors.