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December 1, 1891 

The International Peace Bureau was launched in Rome, Italy, “. . . to coordinate the activities of the various peace societies and promote the concept of peaceful settlement of international disputes.” The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910
for its work, and is headquartered in Bern, Switzerland.

December 1, 1948 

Following a brief but bloody civil war in 1948, Costa Rican President Jose Figueres helped draft a constitution that abolished the military and guaranteed free election with universal suffrage (all adult citizens can vote).

Money not spent on a military allowed the country to adequately fund health care and education, yielding one of the highest literacy rates on the continent, ninety-six percent. This is judged to be a factor in the nation’s never having fallen prey to corruption, dictatorships, or the bloodshed that has marred the history of much of the region.

Read about Costa Rica’s values and attitudes

December 1, 1955 

Rosa Parks, a black seamstress active in the local NAACP, was arrested by police in Montgomery, Alabama, after refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. Mrs. Parks faced a fine for breaking the segregation laws which said blacks had to vacate their seats if there were white passengers left standing. The same bus driver had thrown her off his bus twelve years prior for refusing to enter through the rear door.
Rosa Parks

Mrs. Parks had not been the first to defy the Jim Crow (the system of legalized or de jure segregation) law but her arrest sparked the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott, organized by a young Baptist minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. The Montgomery bus company couldn’t survive without the revenue from its black passengers who, for the next year, created car pools and other means to avoid using the city busses.

The bus restored in Henry Ford Museum

The boycott was successful and Mrs. Parks became known as the "mother of the civil rights movement."

The story of the bus
Rosa Parks biography Arrest record of Rosa Parks
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December 1, 1959 

Representatives of 12 countries, including the United States and the Soviet Union, signed a treaty in Washington setting aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, free from military activity. President Eisenhower said the treaty and its guarantees "constitute a significant advance toward the goal of a peaceful world with justice."

December 1, 1966 

Comedian Dick Gregory was convicted in Olympia, Washington for his participation in a Nisqually Native American fishing rights protest.


Interview with Dick Gregory

December 1, 1969 

A lottery was held to determine which young men would be drafted into the armed services for the ongoing Vietnam War. A large glass container held 366 blue plastic balls each marked with a birth date. The drawing determined the order of induction for draft-eligible men between 18 and 26 years old, and was broadcast live nationally. The first draft lottery was held in 1942.

Rep. Alexander Pirnie, R-NY, draws the first capsule in the
draft lottery held on December 1, 1969.
The capsule contained the date, September 14.

December 1, 1997 

A silent march of women in Khartoum, Sudan, protesting conscription, was met by a police attack and the arrest of 37 women.

December 2, 1914 

Karl Liebknecht was the only member of German Parliament to vote against war with France and Britain. He was arrested shortly thereafter and conscripted into the German Army. Refusing to fight, Liebknecht served on the Eastern Front burying the dead.

Karl Liebnecht More about Karl Liebnecht

December 2, 1942

Enrico Fermi, the Italian-born Nobel Prize-winning physicist, directed and controlled the first self-sustaining fission reaction in his laboratory beneath the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago.

The result of this experiment made the atomic bomb possible and ushered in the nuclear age. Upon successful completion of the experiment, a coded message was transmitted to President Roosevelt: "The Italian navigator has landed in the new world."

More on Fermi and the bomb

December 2, 1954

The U.S. Senate voted 65 to 22 to censure Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) for "conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute."

The condemnation, with all the Democrats and about half the Republicans voting against him, was related to McCarthy's controversial, abusive and indiscriminate investigation of suspected communists in the U.S. government, military, and civilian society. The House of Representatives and many states continued their own investigations.

Senator Joseph P. McCarthy with chief counsel Roy Cohn (L)

See a video clip of McCarthy reacting to the censure

December 2, 1961


Following a year of severely strained relations with the United States and his country, Cuban leader Fidel Castro openly declared that he was a Marxist-Leninist.

Fidel Castro

December 2, 1964

Thousands who were part of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall, the administration building at that University of California campus, to protest four students being disciplined for distributing political literature; Joan Baez performed in support. The next day, police arrested 773 who began a sit-in at Sproul Hall. 10,000 more students then went on strike and shut down the school.

photo: © Ron Enfield

The Free Speech Movement had begun in October, when three thousand students surrounded a police car for 36 hours. Inside the car was a civil rights worker, Jack Weinberg, who had been arrested for distributing political literature on the UC-Berkeley campus. 

Jack Weinberg

in police car.

What was the Free Speech Movement?  

December 2, 1977

A demonstration erupted outside a South African court after a magistrate ruled that security police were to be exonerated in the death of black consciousness leader Steve Biko, who died while in their custody.
The demonstrators chanted, "They have killed Steve Biko. What have we done? Our sin is that we are black?"

Biko's funeral

His funeral had been attended by more than 15,000 mourners, not including the thousands who were turned away by the police. He had been arrested for writing inflammatory pamphlets and "inciting unrest" among the black community.

Steve Biko

The news story

Review of a Biko biography
Learn more about Steve Biko:
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December 2, 1980

Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sr. Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Marie Donovan were raped, murdered, buried outside San Salvador, and unearthed shortly thereafter.

American Nuns Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Marie Donovan- killed in El Salvador in 1980.

U.S.-trained and -supported Salvadoran national guardsmen, widely known to act as death squads, were suspected.

The Reagan administration, taking office seven weeks later, and relying in part on the Salvadoran military to rid Central America of communism, denied the National Guard’s involvement. General Alexander Haig, the president’s secretary of state, explained the churchwomen's deaths to Congress as an accident caused by nervous soldiers who "misread the mere traveling down the road (of the nuns' van) as an effort to run a roadblock." The FBI and CIA later reported this as a total fabrication, and five national guardsmen were later convicted of murder.
More about the Maryknoll Sisters

December 3, 1883

Oberlin College was founded in Ohio. It as the first college to enroll men and women on equal terms, and to accept African-American men and women on equal terms with white students.

December 3, 1965

An all-white jury in Alabama convicted three Ku Klux Klansmen for the murder of white civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo.


Viola Liuzzo

The mother of five from Detroit was shot and killed while driving a young black activist, Leroy Moton, back to the town of Selma following a protest march to the state capital in Montgomery. It was later learned that another Klansmen in the car, Gary Thomas Rowe, was an FBI informant.

Klansmen Collie Wilkins, Eugene Thomas and William Eaton at their trial

Read more A serious blogger considers a book about the FBI’s involvement

December 3, 1969

Files were destroyed at eight New York City draft boards in protest
of the Vietnam War.

December 3, since 1982

The International Day of Disabled Persons was declared by the United Nations. “The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons ... aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities . . . .”

2014 Theme:
"Sustainable Development : The Promise of Technologyl"
more info

December 3, 1984

In the early morning hours, one of the worst industrial disasters in history began when American-owned Union Carbide’s pesticide plant located near the densely populated city of Bhopal in central India leaked a highly toxic cloud of methyl isocyanate into the air.

Bhopal survivors still demanding justice 2004

Estimates of the fatalities vary widely, but of the approximately one million people living in Bhopal at the time, 2,000 were killed immediately, at least another 8,000 within a short time, and hundreds of thousands were injured, many still suffering today.
The U.S. blocked extradition of Union Carbide officials facing criminal prosecution in India. Union Carbide has since been purchased by Dow Chemical which continues to refuse responsibility for the incident or its victims, and has yet to clean up the site.

Two contemporary news reports on the incident

December 3, 1997

An international treaty banning land mines was signed by 122 countries. It comprehensively prohibits the use, production, trade or stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. Buried landmines kill about 15,000 people every year worldwide. The dangerous and time-consuming process of removal would take centuries at the current rate of landmine clearance.

The United States and approximately forty other countries have yet to sign the treaty, and fifteen countries continue to produce land mines. The Pentagon requested $1.3 billion for research on and production of two new landmine systems—Spider and Intelligent Munitions System—between fiscal years 2005 and 2011, but Congress has resisted funding the programs under pressure from nearly
500 U.S.-based organizations opposing the weapons.

Comprehensive information from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines


Recent U.S. policy on land mines:

December 4, 1833

The American Anti-Slavery Society was formed by Arthur Tappan in Philadelphia. He and his brother Lewis had been active abolitionists throughout their lives, including providing legal defense for the Africans who mutinied on the slave ship Amistad.

The Anti-Slavery Society produced
The Slave's Friend
, a monthly pamphlet of Christian and abolitionist poems, songs, and stories for children. In its pages, young readers were encouraged to collect money for the anti-slavery cause.
Arthur Tappan

December 4, 1916

Five members of a women's suffrage group unrolled a banner from the visitor's gallery during President Wilson's annual message (state of the union) to Congress, asking, "Mr. President, What will you do for woman suffrage?" There was no mention of the issue in his speech.

Wilson and suffrage

December 4, 1969

President Richard Nixon, Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew and 40 U.S. governors embarked on a fact-finding mission to discover the causes of the generation gap. They viewed films of "simulated acid trips" and listened to hours of "anti-establishment rock music."

President Richard Nixon    Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew

December 4, 1969

Black Panther party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were assassinated by Chicago Police officers with cooperation from the FBI.
Hampton had founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party at the age of 20. He led in establishing the Breakfast for Children program and a free health clinic on the west side of the City. A main purpose of the Panthers was to resist police violence.
Fred Hampton
One of Hampton's achievements was to persuade Chicago's most powerful street gangs to agree on a non-aggression pact. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, however, considered the Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country." The Panther party headquarters had been raided three times with over 100 members arrested. 
The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Frank Church (D-Idaho), revealed in 1976 that William O'Neal, Hampton's bodyguard, was an FBI informant who had delivered an apartment floor-plan to the Bureau with an "X" marking the bed where Hampton died. About 100 shots were fired by the police, just one from the building. The survivors, including Deborah Johnson, Hampton's pregnant girlfriend, were arrested and charged with attempting to murder the police.
Chicago police remove the body of Fred Hampton, slain by police on Chicago's west side, Dec 4, 1969
“You can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill a revolution!” – Fred Hampton
Remembrance by someone who worked with Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton

December 4, 1970

Cesar Chavez was sentenced to 20 days in jail for refusing to call off the United Farm Workers’ consumer boycott of Bud Antle, Inc., the country’s second largest lettuce grower. Antle had signed a contract with Teamsters Local 890 though only 5% of the workers voted to ratify it. Nor had there ever been an election for the workers to choose a union to represent them. The boycott had been called to pressure Antle to negotiate with the Farm Workers.

About Cesar Chavez Lettuce & Grape boycott poster
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December 5, 1955

Five days after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, the African-American community of Montgomery, Alabama, launched a boycott of the city's bus system.
The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was formed to coordinate the boycott with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., elected as its president.

Out of Montgomery’s 50,000 black residents, 30,000-40,000 participated. They walked or bicycled or car-pooled, depriving the bus company of a substantial portion of its revenue. The boycott lasted (54 weeks) until it was agreed the buses would be integrated.

What was the Montgomery Bus Boycott?  
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December 5, 1955

The American Federation of Labor, which had historically focused on organizing craft unions, merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, an organization of unions largely representing industrial workers, to form the AFL-CIO with a combined membership of nearly 15 million. George Meany was elected its first president.

AFL-CIO history

December 5, 1957
New York became the first city to legislate against racial or religious discrimination in housing (Fair Housing Practices Law).

December 5, 1967

Dr. Benjamin Spock  

264 were arrested at a military induction center in New York City during a Stop the Draft Week Committee action. Dr. Benjamin Spock and poet Allen Ginsberg were among those arrested for blocking (though symbolically) the steps at 39 Whitehall Street where the draft board met. 2500 had shown up at 5:00 in the morning to show their opposition to the draft and the Vietnam War.

  Allen Ginsberg

December 5, 1980

The United Nations adopted the charter for the University for Peace in Costa Rica. Its purpose would be “promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress . . . .”

The monument sculpted by Cuban artist Thelvia Marín in 1987, is the world's largest peace monument.

It also established short-wave Radio for Peace International (RFPI)which was shut down by the University in 2004 when RFPI exposed a plan between the University for Peace and the U.S. to hold anti-terrorist combat training on campus. 

Interview with James Latham, CEO of RFPI when it was under siege
RFPI continues on the web

December 5, 2002

At the 100th birthday celebration for Senator Strom Thurmond (R-North Carolina), Senate Republican leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) praised Thurmond's Dixiecrat Party 1948 presidential campaign (official slogan: “Segregation Forever!”).

President George W. Bush with Sen. Lott and Sen. Thurmond

“I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of him. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.”
The reaction to this sentiment led to Lott's resignation as Senate majority leader.

December 6, 1849

Harriet Tubman, a slave in Maryland, escaped her owners.

What Harriet Tubman did with her freedom

December 6, 1865

The state of Georgia provided the final vote needed for the 13th Amendment to become part of the U.S. Constitution, abolishing slavery.

slave auction  

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

first vote
Two days before, Mississippi’s legislature had voted to reject ratification; Mississippi didn’t ratify the anti-slavery amendment until 1995.

More on the ratification

December 6, 1978

The voters of Spain approved a new constitution in a popular referendum by nearly 8-1. It proclaimed Spain to be a parliamentary monarchy and guaranteed its citizens equality before the law and a full range of individual liberties, including religious freedom. While recognizing the autonomy of seventeen regions, it stressed the indivisibility of the Spanish state.

December 6, 1998

In Venezuela, former Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez, who had staged a bloody coup attempt against the government six years earlier, was elected president.

Some perspective on some of Chavez’s actions
Two views on what Venezuelans see in Chavez
BBC profile of Chavez

December 7, 1964

A leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, Mario Savio, was arrested. One-third of the 27,000 students at the University of California campus, along with faculty, were on strike to protect their first amendment right to distribute political literature and to organize on campus. A faculty resolution passed 824-115, supporting the rapidly growing Free Speech Movement.

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop." - Mario Savio

Mario Savio as remembered by journalist Robert Scheer

December 7, 1993

Four Plowshares activists were arrested for disarming an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.
Pax Christi-Spirit of Life Plowshares newspaper article
The arrested: Phil Berrigan, John Dear, Lynn Fredriksson,
and Bruce Friedrich

December 8, 1886

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was founded at a convention of union leaders in Columbus, Ohio. It was an alliance of autonomous unions, each typically made up of workers within a particular craft.
Samuel Gompers, a leader in the Cigarmakers’ union, was a key person in creating the AFL, was elected its first president, and served as such virtually continuously for nearly 40 years.
Samuel Gompers, a founder and leader of the American Federation of Labor

Samuel Gompers

Substantial essay on the roots of the the American labor movement

December 8, 1941

Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana), the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1916, cast the only vote (she was among eight women in the Congress at the time) opposing declaration of war against Japan, despite their attack on Pearl Harbor the previous day . She had also voted against the U.S. entering World War I (at the time called the war to end all wars). Rankin served served just two single terms in the House. She spent her early career working for women’s suffrage, later very active in several peace and justice organizations.

Jeannette Rankin in 1940

 “Gallant Warrior for Peace”

Chronology and oral history transcript of interview of Jeanette Rankin

December 8, 1953

U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower addressed the United Nations General Assembly, proposing the creation of a new U.N. atomic energy agency which would receive contributions of uranium from the United States, the Soviet Union, and other countries "principally concerned," and would put this material to peaceful use.

The speech, known later as Atoms for Peace, included: “My country wants to be constructive, not destructive. It wants agreement, not wars, among nations. It wants itself to live in freedom, and in the confidence that the people of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing their own way of life.”

December 8, 1987

U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the first treaty to reduce the nuclear arsenals of the two superpowers. The Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty eliminated and banned all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (300-3,400 miles). By May 1991, all intermediate- and shorter-range missiles, launchers, and related support had been physically dismantled.

December 8, 1988

   Intermediate Nuclear Force vehicle

On the first anniversary of the INF (Intermediate Nuclear Force) Treaty, twelve Dutch peace activists, calling themselves "INF Ploughshares," cut through fences to enter the Woensdrecht Air Force base in The Netherlands.
They made their way to cruise missile bunkers where they hammered on the missiles, carrying out the first disarmament action in Holland.

December 9, 1917

British troops, known as the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and under the command of General Edmund Allenby, entered Jerusalem, ending 700 years of Muslim rule of the city, 400 under the Ottoman Turks. The Turkish army withdrew, the city surrendered without a battle.
Thus began 30 years of British control over Palestine.

December 9, 1949

U.S. Representative John Parnell Thomas, former chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), was sentenced to 6 to 18 months in federal prison for "padding" Congressional payrolls and using the money himself (embezzlement).
He had pled no contest to the charges, and was pardoned by President Harry Truman shortly before the end of his presidency.

John Parnell Thomas

December 9, 1961

Members of the National Committee of 100, a movement of non-violent resistance to nuclear war and to the manufacture and use of all weapons of mass extermination, joined with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and held demonstrations at various U.S. air and nuclear bases in Britain.


Members of the Committee of 100, including Bertrand Russell, considered civil disobedience a legitimate means in their struggle. The CND avoided all illegal activities.

The CND is still active today

Bertrand Russell and the "Committee of 100"

at an earlier action in 1961.

December 9, 1990

Solidarity trade union founder and leader Lech Walesa won Poland's presidential runoff election in a 3-1 landslide. He thus became the first directly elected Polish leader. Poland only became an independent country at the end of World War I.

A Lech Walesa biography

December 10, 1948

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."
Since 1950 the anniversary of the declaration has been known as Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day

December 10, 1950

Detroit-born U.N. diplomat Ralph J. Bunche became the first Black American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The award was in recognition of his peace mediation during the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948.

Ralph Bunche the Peacemaker
From his acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway.
“There are some in the world who are prematurely resigned to the inevitability of war. Among them are the advocates of the so-called "preventive war," who, in their resignation to war, wish merely to select their own time for initiating it. To suggest that war can prevent war is a base play on words and a despicable form of warmongering. The objective of any who sincerely believe in peace clearly must be to exhaust every honorable recourse in the effort to save the peace. The world has had ample evidence that war begets only conditions which beget further war.”

December 10, 1961
Chief Albert Luthuli, President-General of the banned African National Congress, appealed for racial equality in racially separatist apartheid South Africa after accepting the Nobel peace prize for 1960 in Oslo, Norway.

Mr. Luthuli said he considered the award "a recognition of the sacrifices made by the peoples of all races [in South Africa], particularly the African people who have endured and suffered so much for so long.”
“It may well be that South Africa's social system is a monument to racialism and race oppression, but its people are the living testimony to the unconquerable spirit of mankind. Down the years, against seemingly overwhelming odds, they have sought the goal of fuller life and liberty, striving with incredible determination and fortitude for the right to live as men - free men.”

Albert Luthuli

Watch and listen to Chief Luthuli’s speech

December 10, 1964

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
From his speech in Oslo:
“After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that [civil rights] movement is profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time -- the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.”

King’s Nobel acceptance speech:

December 10, 1997

Julia Butterfly Hill, age 23, climbed "Luna," a 1,000-year-old California redwood, to protect it from loggers. She stayed up in the tree for more than two years.

Watch interviews with Julia

Julia Butterfly Hill atop Luna

December 10, 2003
Shirin Ebadi

Iranian democracy activist Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman (first Iranian and only the third Muslim) to win the Nobel Peace Prize, accepted the award in Oslo, Norway "for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children."

More about Shirin Ebadi

December 11, 1946

The General Assembly of the United Nations voted to establish the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to provide health and rehabilitation to children living in countries devastated by World War II.

What does UNICEF do today?

December 11, 1946

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed Resolution 95 affirming the principles of international law recognized by the charter and judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal. These Principles of International Law were formulated and published by the International Law Commission on July 29, 1950:

These Principles of International Law were formulated and published by the
International Law Commission on July 29, 1950:
Read the UN Resolution 95 (pdf)

December 11, 1961

Two U.S. Army air cavalry helicopter companies arrived in Vietnam, including 33 Shawnee H-21C helicopters and 425 ground and flight crewmen. They were to be used to airlift South Vietnamese Army troops into combat, the first direct military combat involvement of U.S. military personnel.

President Kennedy had sent them to bolster the U.S. advisors, in the country since the 1950s, in light of the inability of the Government of Vietnam’s armed forces to resist the Viet Cong insurgency movement and the Army of the Republic of [North] Vietnam.

Shawnee helicopter

December 11, 1961

A U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawed the use of disorderly conduct statutes as grounds for arresting African Americans sitting-in at segregated public facilities to obtain equal service.
The case began in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a group of negro Southern University students bought some items then sat at the lunch counter of Kress Department Store. Their polite requests to order food were ignored because the lunch counter was only for the use of whites, and police arrived to arrest them. Convicted of "disturbing the peace,” they were expelled from Southern University and barred from all public colleges and universities in the state of Louisiana.
The Court overturned their convictions because there was no evidence indicating a breach of the peace.
The decision in Garner v. Louisiana

December 11, 1972

New Zealand Prime Minister Norman Kirk (Labour Party) announced withdrawal of his country’s troops from Vietnam and a phase-out of his country’s draft just three days after taking office.

Prime Minister Norman Kirk

Anti-War demo Parliament Buildings in Wellington, 1969

3,890 New Zealand military personnel had served there, suffering 37 dead and 187 wounded. This had given rise to a large and vocal anti-war movement.

History of the anti-war movement in New Zealand

December 11, 1980

President Carter signed a law creating a $1.6 billion environmental Superfund to pay for cleanup of chemical spills and toxic waste dumps.

Where are the Superfund sites

December 11, 1984

More than 20,000 women turned out for an anti-nuclear demonstration at Greenham Common Air Base in England, where U.S. nuclear-armed cruise missiles were deployed. Some tried to rip down the fence surrounding the base.


A Greenham Peace Camp scrapbook

Poster of Broken Missile taped to the fence of Greenham Common by a protester, 1982.

Greenham Women

December 11, 1992

The three major U.S. television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) agreed on joint standards to limit entertainment violence by the start of the following season.


Violence in the Media - Psychologists Help Protect Children from Harmful Effects

December 11, 1994
In the largest Russian military offensive since its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks crossed the border into the Muslim republic of Chechnya. Just two weeks prior, a Russian covert operation to undermine the government in Grozny, the capital, had been foiled and Dzhokhar Dudaev, Chechnya’s first elected president, had threatened to have the perpetrators executed.

The Chechens had declared their independence from the Commonwealth of Independent States, comprised of Russia and most of the countries previously part of the Soviet Union. Chechnya had been a Russian colony since 1859, and in 1943 Josef Stalin deported the population en masse, their return to their homeland not allowed until 1957.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who ordered the invasion, would not deal with Dudaev, and had raised him to the rank of chief enemy, ignoring Chechen-Russian history. The main attack was halted by the deputy commander of Russian ground forces, Colonel-General Eduard Vorobyov, who resigned in protest, stating that he would not attack fellow Russians. Yeltsin's advisor on nationality affairs, Emil Pain, and Russia's Deputy Minister of Defense, Colonel-General Boris Gromov (esteemed hero of the Soviet-Afghan War), also resigned in protest of the invasion, as did Major-General Borys Poliakov. More than 800 professional soldiers and officers refused to take part in the operation. Of these, 83 were convicted by military courts, and the rest were discharged.

December 12, 1870

Joseph H. Rainey (R-South Carolina) took his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first African-American Member of Congress.

More about Rainey

December 12, 1916

Dr. Ben Reitman was arrested in Cleveland for organizing volunteers to distribute birth control information at an Emma Goldman lecture on birth control. He was sentenced to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine plus court costs.

Review of a novel by Reitman, Sister of the Road 

Dr. Ben Reitman

December 12, 1947
The United Mine Workers union withdrew from the American Federation of Labor over the AFL’s failure to organize workers in mass production industries such as textiles, automobiles, steel and rubber.

December 12, 1969

The Philippine Civic Action Group, a 1350-man contingent from the Army of the Philippines, left South Vietnam. The contingent had been part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam, similar to President George Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing,” the multi-national force in Iraq.

December 12, 1983

Seventy people were arrested in Boston outside a hotel where a "New Trends in Missiles" trade conference was being held.

Inside the hotel, over 1,000 cockroaches were released to symbolize the likely survivors of nuclear war.  

December 12, 1986

Plowshares activists disarmed a Pershing missile launcher in West Germany. In a statement of intent the four said, "With awareness of our responsibility we understand that we are the ones who make the arms race possible by not trying to stop it."

From a pershing plowshares action 1984

Details of their action in Pershing to Plowshares

December 13, 1917

Denmark, which was not involved in World War I, recognized the right of conscientious objection (CO) to military service. Norway had done so in 1900, Sweden in 1920. The Netherlands went so far as to write it into their constitution in 1922, and Finland enacted it in 1931.

European Bureau for Conscientious Objection    their history

December 13, 1942

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels recorded in his journal his contempt for the Italians' treatment of Jews in Italian-occupied territories. "The Italians are extremely lax in their treatment of Jews. They protect Italian Jews both in Tunis and in occupied France and won't permit their being drafted for work or compelled to wear the Star of David."

December 13, 1981

Poland's new military leaders issued a decree of martial law, drastically restricting civil rights and suspending the operations of the Solidarinosc (Solidarity) trade union. The union's activists reacted with an appeal for an immediate general strike to protest.

The crackdown on Solidarity on front page

In-depth history of U.S. and the Solidarity movement

December 13, 1982

At the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament, the two resolutions for a nuclear freeze (a verifiable end to all testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons by the Soviet Union and the United States) passed 119-17 and 122-16. The socialist and developing countries voted solidly for a freeze, while the U.S. and member countries of the NATO alliance voted against it.

December 13, 2001

In Belgium, 80,000 labor and anti-globalization activists began several days of protests at a European Union summit conference in Brussels.
Despite a massive police presence, unlike other similar meetings, events remained peaceful.


Read more

December 13, 2001

President George W. Bush served formal notice that the United States was withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia (then the Soviet Union). “I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue state missile attacks.”
The anti-ballistic missile system, known during the Reagan administration as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) or, commonly, Star Wars, are referred to as National Missile Defense (NMD). To date, research, testing and limited deployment have cost approximately 500 billion dollars.

December 14, 1917

U.S. peace activist and suffragist Kate Richards O'Hare was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for a speech denouncing World War I.

Occupying a neighboring jail cell was Emma Goldman, the well-known anarchist organizer, feminist, writer and anti-war critic was imprisoned for obstructing the draft. O'Hare was one of a number of prisoners Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs cited in his "Canton Speech" for which he in turn was imprisoned.

Kate Richards O'Hare addressing a crowd in downtown St. Louis on National Suffrage Day,1916.
More about activist Kate Richards O'Hare Read the speech

December 14, 1961

In a public exchange of letters with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, U.S. President John F. Kennedy formally announced the United States would increase aid to South Vietnam, including the expansion of the U.S. troop commitment. Kennedy, concerned with recent advances made by the communist insurgency movement in South Vietnam, wrote: "We shall promptly increase our assistance to your defense effort."

President Ngo Dinh Diem

President Kennedy and Secretary of Defense McNamara

Kennedy’s letter

December 14, 1980

At Yoko Ono's request, John Lennon fans around the world mourned him with 10 minutes of silent prayer. In New York over 100,000 people converged on Central Park in tribute, and in Liverpool, England, his hometown, a crowd of 30,000 gathered outside of St. George's Hall on Lime Street. >

"You may say I'm a dreamer.
But I'm not the only one."

Time capsules to mark John Lennon's legacy

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December 14, 1985

Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to lead a major American Indian tribe when she took office as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Wilma Mankiller on the day in 1985 when her election as chief of the Cherokee Nation was announced

December 14, 1994

After eight years of negotiations, the United States finally agreed to honor New Zealand's ban on nuclear weapons in its territory. U.S. Navy ships armed with nuclear weapons no longer visited New Zealand’s ports.

December 14, 1995

Leaders of the states that were parts of the former Yugoslavia signed the Bosnia peace treaty, formally ending four years of bloody and vicious ethnic/religious conflict. The Dayton Accords, as they are known, committed the Balkan states of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina to accept a division of territory, a process to deal with the more than 2 million refugees, and the introduction of 60,000 NATO peacekeeping forces.
The negotiations were led by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, and held principally at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.
The Dayton Accords

December 15, 1791

The Bill of Rights became law when Virginia ratified the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution.

Read The Bill of Rights The Bill of Rights Defense Committee

December 15, 1930

Albert Einstein urged militant pacifism and the creation of an international war resistance fund. Einstein stated in New York that if two percent of those called for military service were to refuse to fight, and were to urge peaceful means of settling international conflicts, then governments would become powerless since they could not imprison that many people.

Albert Einstein, 1930

He struggled against compulsory military service and urged international protection of conscientious objectors. He concluded that peace, freedom for individuals, and security for societies depended on disarmament; otherwise, "slavery of the individual and the annihilation of civilization threaten us."

Einstein on Peace and World Government

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December 15, 1946

Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh sent a note to French Premier Leon Blum congratulating him for his selection as French Premier and asking for peace talks. France had exercised colonial power over the Vietnamese as part of French Indochina, formed in October 1887 from the provinces of Annam, Tonkin, Cochin China, and the Kingdom of Cambodia; Laos was added in 1893. Vietnamese nationalists, however, had demanded independence for the three provinces at the end of World War II.

December 15, 1973

The American Psychiatric Association reversed its long-standing position and declared that homosexuality is not a mental illness and
"...deplores all public and private discrimination in such areas as employment, housing, public accommodation..."

Read the APA postion statement

December 15, 2000

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was shut down 14 years after becoming the site of the world's worst nuclear accident ever. Nearly nine tons of radioactive material – dozens of times as much as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs – were released in the explosion. The radioactive fallout affected 23% of Belarus, with 4.8% of Ukrainian territory and 0.5% of Russia. The Belarussian government spends 30% of its annual budget dealing with the aftermath of Chernobyl.

December 16, 1942

Heinrich Himmler, head of the German Gestapo, made public an order that Gypsies, or Roma, and those of mixed Roma blood already in labor camps be deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau."

Himmler was determined to prosecute Nazi racial policies, which dictated the elimination from Germany and German-controlled territories of all races deemed "inferior," as well as "asocial" types, (hardcore criminals, homosexuals, Communists, Slavs, Catholic priests). Gypsies fell into both categories according to Nazi ideology and had been executed widely in Croatia, Poland and the Soviet Union.

The Porajmos (also Porrajmos) — literally Devouring — is a term coined by the Romani to describe attempts by the Nazi regime to exterminate most of their people in Europe.

Read more video
Gypsy arrivals to the Belzec death camp.

December 16, 1950
President Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight "Communist imperialism." This followed major Chinese intervention in the Korean War, launching a counter-offensive with 300,000 men against Republic of Korea, United States and United Nations troops.

The U.N. command, under General Douglas MacArthur, had attacked the North Korean Army at Inchon three months earlier, liberating Seoul, destroying three divisions and forcing a retreat by the North Korean People’s Army.

North Korean Leader Kim Il Sung (second from L)

with the Korean-Chinese joint military command

December 17, 1982
The U.N. passed a series of 4 resolutions attacking apartheid in South Africa: To organize an international conference of trade unions on sanctions against South Africa (approved 129 to 2); To encourage various international actions against South Africa (126 to 2); Support of sanctions and other measures against South Africa including international sporting events (139 to 1); Cessation of further foreign investments and loans for South Africa (138 to 1). The U.S. was the only country to have voted against all 4 resolutions (joined only by the United Kingdom on two).

December 17, 1990
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a radical Roman Catholic priest and opponent of the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier who had been deposed in 1986, was elected president in the first free election in Haiti's history. He was overthrown in 1991 in a military coup led by Brigadier-General Raoul Cedra.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide

December 17, 2010

In Tunesia jobless graduate Mohmad Bouazizi starts selling vegetables. When police seize his cart, he sets fire to himself and later dies. This event believed to be the ignition of Arab Spring.

A UK Guardian interactive timeline

December 18, 1865

Following its ratification by the requisite three-quarters of the states earlier in the month, the 13th Amendment was formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution, ensuring that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude... shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

"Selling females by the pound"

December 18, 1999

Julia Butterfly Hill descended from her tiny platform 180 feet up in a giant redwood tree (sequoia sempervivens) named "Luna," after perching there for 738 days to protect it from loggers. Luna survived a chainsaw attack in 2001 but still stands.    



"The question is not 'Can you make a difference?'  You already do make a difference.

It's just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make during your life on this planet."

– Julia Butterfly Hill

In Honor of Julia Butterfly Hill and Luna

Luna TodayEarth Medicine

December 19, 1940
Civilian Public Service (CPS) camps were established for conscientious objectors following the institution of the first peacetime draft (a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor).
It was the first time members of peace-oriented religious groups (e.g., Quakers, Mennonites, Church of the Brethren) could legally avoid military conscription.


Fire fighting. CPS 30, Walhalla, Michigan (Brethren)

Though they worked nine-hour days except Sundays, they had to pay their own room-and-board, and were not released from the camps until 1947.

Civilian Public Service

December 19, 1962

Juan Bosch Gaviño was elected President of the Dominican Republic in its first free elections in 38 years. The election of journalist and writer Bosch followed shortly after the end of 31 years of military dictator Rafael Trujillo who had been assassinated the previous year. Bosch was overthrown by a U.S.-backed coup just seven months later.

Bosch’s brief political career

Juan Bosch Gaviño

December 19, 2010

Police in a provincial city in Tunisia used tear gas late on Saturday to disperse hundreds of youths who smashed shop windows and damaged cars, witnesses told Reuters. The beginning of Arab Spring.


Read more (Reuters)

December 20, 1946
The morning after Viet Minh forces under Ho Chi Minh launched a nighttime revolt in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, French colonial troops cracked down on the communist rebels. Ho and his soldiers immediately fled the city to regroup in the countryside.
That evening, the communist leader issued a proclamation that read:

Ho Chi Minh, Paris 1946

"All the Vietnamese must stand up to fight the French colonials to save the fatherland. Those who have rifles will use their rifles; those who have swords will use their swords; those who have no swords will use spades, hoes, or sticks. Everyone must endeavor
to oppose the colonialists and save his country. Even if we have to endure hardship in the resistance war, with the determination to make sacrifices, victory will surely be ours." The first Indochina War thus began.

December 20, 1960

North Vietnam announced the formation of the National Front for the Liberation of the South (usually known as the National Liberation Front or NLF), designed to replicate the success of the Viet Minh, the umbrella nationalist organization that successfully liberated Vietnam from French colonial rule.

National Liberation Front flag

Ho Chi Minh biography

December 20, 1990

Kansas reservist Dr. Yolanda Huet-Vaughn refused orders to serve in the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) and was later sentenced to prison. The Kansas medical board withdrew her hospital privileges.

"The issue was not whether I belonged in the military but whether the military belonged in the Middle East waging war. I did not want to focus on the personal decision. I was trying to focus on the decision for which each and every American would have to be responsible." — Yolanda Huet-Vaughn

What if they gave a war and nobody came?

December 20, 1994

100,000 Chechnyan civilians linked hands in a 65 km-long human chain (40 miles) to protest the Russian invasion of their country and attack on their capital, Grozny.

Read more

December 20, 1999

The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded couples of the opposite sex.

Vermont Freedom to Marry

December 21, 1919

Amidst a strike for union recognition by 395,000 steelworkers, the "Red Scare" was launched with the deportation of Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, and some 250 other radicals. They were deported to Russia aboard the S. S. Buford ("The Soviet Ark").


Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman also organized against World War I

J. Edgar Hoover, heading the Justice Department's General Intelligence Division, advanced his career by implementing to the fullest extent possible the government's plan to deport all foreign-born radicals.

 S.S. Buford

  "Sasha & Emma"
Read more about Emma & Alex

December 21, 1956
The Montgomery, Alabama, public buses were officially integrated.
This happened following a successful boycott of city buses led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and intitiated by Rosa Parks’s refusal to move to the back of the bus.



"UH UH, I'm not going your way!"

Bus Boycott cartoon by Laura Gray from 1956

December 21, 1965
American political activists Tom Hayden, Staughton Lynd, and Herbert Aptheker began a visit to Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam. Invited by the North Vietnamese, they went despite the U.S. travel ban.
Lynd and Hayden wrote “The Other Side” following their trip,
explaining the Vietnamese perspective.

Read more

December 21, 1968
Hundreds of supporters visited jailed Vietnam War resisters at Allenwood Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

December 21, 1982

President Ronald Reagan signed, after Congress had passed it unanimously, the first Boland Amendment. Representative Mike Boland’s (D-Illinois) legislation prohibited prohibited the use of U.S. funds for either overt or covert efforts by its intelligence agencies to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.

December 21, 1989

Vice President Dan Quayle sent out 30,000 Christmas cards with the word beacon misspelled "beakon."

"May our nation continue to be the beakon of hope to the world."
-- The Quayles' 1989 Christmas card.
More Quayle quotes

December 21, 1991

Eleven former Soviet republics and Russia peaceably declared an end to the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,  Uzbekistan and Ukraine agreed to cooperate on the basis on sovereign equality.

December 22, 1944

African-American women during World War II had difficulty volunteering to serve in the war effort. Negro enlistment in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) was limited to 10% of enlistees (reflecting the black proportion of the U.S. population and known as "ten-percenters"). Only the officers were trained in integrated units but all served in racially segregated units, and lived and ate in "colored only" facilities. During the war, 6,520 black women served as WACs.
Black women were completely banned from the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) until the last year of the war. Through the efforts of Director Mildred McAfee and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Secretary of the Navy (and later the first Secretary of Defense) James Forrestal pushed through their admittance. The first two black WAVES officers, Lieutenant Harriet Ida Pikens and Ensign Frances Wills,
were sworn in this day.
Of 80,000 WAVES, only 72 black women served.

December 22, 1969

The original Radio Free Alcatraz, a pirate radio station, broadcasted for the first time through Berkeley, California’s Pacifica radio station, KPFA. The voice of Alcatraz was Johnny Trudell, an ally of the American Indians who had occupied Alcatraz Island, the site of the former prison in
San Francisco Bay.
John Trudell speaks with news media representatives regarding negotiations with the federal government
for title to Alcatraz Island. Trudell, known as "the voice of Alcatraz,"
The National Park Service, which now runs Alcatraz, is considering reviving
a podcasting radio service of the same name.
Hear a sample:

December 22, 1993

Operation “Toys for Guns" was begun in New York City through the efforts (and $10,000) of I.M. Rainmaker, CEO of an electronics company. Conceived in cooperation with local police concerned about crime fed by too many guns and the glorification of violence, the program offered a $100 voucher redeemable at Toys ‘R’ Us
for a firearm turned in to the police.
How it happened

December 22, 1997

Paramilitaries associated with the ruling PRI party in Mexico massacred 45 peasants in the village of Acteal in the state of Chiapas. The federal government then occupied the territory with over 70,000 troops and expelled the humanitarian observers who were stationed in the area to monitor the treatment of the indigenous people who lived there.

December 23, 1943

A 135-day strike by 23 conscientious objectors (COs) ended dining hall segregation at Danbury Federal Penitentiary in Connecticut.
The number of conscientious objectors had increased from 15 in early 1941 to 200 by the time of the strike.

December 23, 1944

General Dwight Eisenhower endorsed the finding of a court-martial in the case of Eddie Slovik, who was tried for desertion, and authorized his execution. It was the first such sentence against a U.S. Army soldier since the Civil War, and Slovik was the only man so punished during World War II.
He made no secret of his unwillingness to enter combat, but his pleas to be reassigned to noncombat status were rejected.
Eisenhower ordered that Slovik's execution be carried out to avoid further desertions in the late stages of the war.
Eddie Slovik

Read more

December 23, 1946

University of Tennessee refused to play Duquesne University, because they might have used a black player, Chuck Cooper, in the basketball game [see July 14, 1887].
Cooper went on to be drafted (the first black player ever) by the Boston Celtics, playing his first NBA game on the same day as the debut of head coach Red Auerbach, guard Bob Cousy, and center “Easy” Ed Macauley.

Chuck Cooper, graduate of Duquesne University

December 23, 1961

James Davis of Livingston, Tennessee, was killed by the Viet Cong, the insurgents in South Vietnam, and became the first of some 58,000 U.S. soldiers killed during the Vietnam War.
Lyndon Johnson later referred to him as “the first American to fall in defense of our freedom in Vietnam.”

Over two million Vietnamese would die before the end of the war.

James Davis

December 24, 1865

Months after the fall of the Confederacy and the end of slavery, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Its first priority, declared in its creed, was "to protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal.”
In fact, the Klan terrorized and killed former slaves, sympathetic whites and immigrants.
Three Ku Klux Klan members, September 1871.
The building where it happened still stands with a bronze plaque reading, "Ku Klux Klan organized in this, the law office of Judge Thomas M. Jones, Dec. 24, 1865.” When the building was purchased in 1990, the new owner, Don Massey, instead of removing the plaque, simply reversed it, showing the smooth back side.

More on the Klan

December 24, 1924

Costa Rica indicated its intention to withdraw from The League of Nations to protest lack of progress on regional issues, particularly U.S. dominance of the hemisphere.
The Monroe Doctrine, declared by President James Monroe in 1823, established the U.S. sphere of influence encompassed the entirety of North and South America, as well as the Caribbean island nations.
Read more

December 24, 1947

President Truman pardoned 1,523 of the 15,805 World War II draft resisters who had been convicted and served time in prison for their offense. Five years later on the same day, shortly before leaving office, he granted full pardon and restoration of civil and political rights to former convicts who had served in the peacetime army or who had not been covered by his earlier pardon, as well as all convicted peacetime deserters.
< Read more >

December 24, 1991

Parents of reservists from Grocka protested at Army headquarters in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, worried their sons would be caught up in the war threatened by Serbian nationalist expansionism.

December 24, 1992

President George Herbert Walker Bush pardoned six Reagan administration appointees in the Iran-Contra case, among them former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, and Robert McFarlane, the President’s former national security advisor.
He did so with less than one month to go in his presidency, and one week before Weinberger’s trial on four felony charges was to begin.
These people and others were responsible for selling arms to the revolutionary government of Iran in hope of the release of hostages held in Lebanon, despite then-President Ronald Reagan’s repeated pledge not to negotiate with hostage-takers.
The Iran-Contra Boys
Otto Reich /Elliott Abrams /John Poindexter/Edwin Meese George H.W. Bush/Casper Weinberger/Oliver North/Robert McFarlane

The money raised through the arms sales was used to fund the Contra insurgents in Nicaragua, who were violently trying to overthrow the government. This support was in violation of an explicit legal ban on such activities under the Boland Amendment [see December 21, 1982].

Text of Bush’s Grant of Executive Clemency
More about this and other presidential pardons:

December 25, 1914

Just after midnight on Christmas morning, German troops at the front in World War I ceased firing their guns and artillery, and began to sing Christmas carols. At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no man's land, calling out "Merry Christmas" in their enemies' native tongues.
German officer in the trenches with British soldier
At first the Allied soldiers suspected it to be a trick, but they soon climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the German soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings; the fighting didn’t resume in earnest for several days, and then only at the insistence of the generals. German and British soldiers fraternize
What happened that night
a film | Joyeux Noel: The Christmas Truce Of 1914 watch & listen

December 25, 1921

President Harding announced the release of Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs from prison, unconditionally commuting his 10-year sentence to time served. Debs’s full rights as a citizen, however, were not restored. He had been imprisoned for his vocal opposition to U.S. participation in World War I.
Following a meeting with the president and attorney general, Debs commented,
". . . a convict for his principles is always a citizen in good standing. He is a citizen by his own inherent, God-given integrity. The only man who loses his citizenship is the man who renounces his principles and abdicates his manhood."
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December 25, 1946

The first Christmas demonstration at the White House was held by those seeking amnesty for conscientious objectors convicted of refusing to fight in World War II.

December 25, 1992

The special prosecutor responsible for investigating crimes committed in the Iran-Contra Affair, Lawrence E. Walsh, denounced the pardons granted the day before by President George H.W. Bush. Mr. Walsh charged that "the Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed."
Walsh said, "evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public" was central to his case against Weinberger. President Bush had been vice president at the time of the arms sales to Iran for hostages, and illegal aid to the insurgent Contras in Nicaragua.
Those Bush pardoned: Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense, soon to go on trial for lying to Congress; Clair E. George, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine services, who had been convicted twice of perjury; two other CIA officials, Duane Clarridge and Alan D. Fiers Jr.; Robert C. McFarlane, the former national security adviser, and Elliott Abrams, the former assistant Secretary of State for Central America, both of whom had pled guilty to withholding information from Congress.

December 26, 1862

38 members of the Santee Sioux tribe were hanged in a public mass execution in Minnesota. 300 members of the band had been convicted of participating the the Minnesota Uprising and ordered to hang. However, all sentences except the 38 had been commuted by President Abraham Lincoln.
For decades white settlers had been encroaching on Santee Sioux territory, and they had been victimized by corrupt federal Indian agents on the reservations.
In July agents and contractors had withheld food when their demands for kickbacks had been refused. The Indians eventually struck back, killing Anglo settlers and taking some hostages. In two battles with the U.S. Army, they killed or wounded dozens of soldiers, but ultimately lost and were put on trial.
America’s only legal mass execution

December 26, 1966

The first Kwanzaa was celebrated in Los Angeles, California. It was conceived and organized in the wake of the Watts riots by Dr. Maulana (Ron) Karenga, a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach. Kwanzaa is a non-religious African-American holiday focusing on family, community, and culture.
The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits" in Swahili. The celebrations are expressed through song, dance, drumming, storytelling, poetry and the lighting of candles in a Kinara, all followed by a large traditional meal. The holiday is observed for seven days, each representing a different principle:
a Kwanzaa Kinara
Umoja (oo-MO-jah) Unity
Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-Determination
Ujima (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility
Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics
Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose
Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity
Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith

Ron Karenga lighting the Kinara

Read more

December 26, 1971

Two dozen members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War "liberated" the Statue of Liberty with a sit-in to protest resumed U.S. aerial bombings in Vietnam. They flew an inverted U.S. flag from the crown as a signal of distress.

December 26, 1992

photo: Simran Sachdev Belgrade, 7.2009 Women In Black began campaign against rape during war, Belgrade, Serbia.
Read more
Women in Black is a world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence.

December 26, 1999

Alfonso Portillo Cabrera scored a resounding victory (nearly 70% of the vote in the second round) in Guatemala's first peacetime presidential elections following a 36-year civil war.
Alfonso Portillo Cabrera after his election
Some perspective

December 27, 1914

The International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), an inter-religious peace group, is founded in Cambridge, Great Britain.
“The International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) is an international spiritually based movement composed of people who commit themselves to active nonviolence as a way of life and as a means of transformation – personal, social, economic and political."
"Your goal is, in my opinion, the only reasonable one and to make it prevail is of vital importance."
--Albert Einstein, in a letter to the FOR
Read more

December 27, 1971

Vietnam Veterans Against the War staged a peace protest at historic Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia.

December 27, 2002

North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart the Yongbyon plutonium Plant to meet the fuel needs of its nuclear power reactor. The plant had been shut down and sealed by the U.N. in 1994 in exchange for shipments of fuel oil. When it was discovered that the North Korean had been pursuing a uranium-based weapons program, the U.S. and Japan, South Korea and the European Union suspended the fuel shipments.

December 27, 2002

1500 people gathered in Tel Aviv, Israel, the protest the Israeli military occupation of land beyond the 1948 borders of the country. With the slogans “End the Occupation” and “No to Racism,” and dressed mostly in black, they used a variety of means – drumming, singing, art installations, giving away olives and olive oil – to express their frustration and anger over the ongoing occupation.
Alternative Ten commandments at demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel
The Coalition of Women for Peace also showed a movie, Jenin, Jenin, which had been banned for public showing, in defiance of police orders to stop the projector. Shown on a large outdoor screen, it was a narrative about the actions of the Israeli army the previous Spring in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin.

December 28, 1869

The (Noble and Holy Order of the) Knights of Labor, a labor union formed by tailors in Philadelphia, held the first Labor Day ceremonies in American history. Led by Uriah S. Stephens, they advocated and end to child and convict labor, equal pay for women, a progressive income tax and cooperative ownership of mines and factories by management and workers. They organized among the growing mass of industrial workers, their motto, “An Injury to One Is the Concern of All.”

December 28, 1968

An anti-draft conference launched a "Don't Register" campaign to resist Australia’s conscription system.

December 28, 1973

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's “The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956,” was published in Paris in the original Russian. The book is a brutal and uncompromising first-hand description of political repression and terror in the Soviet Union and its forced-labor prison camp system, where the author spent eight years. He dedicated it to "to all those who did not live to tell it.” Solzhenitsyn was again arrested and forced into exile within two months of publication.

Read more about the Soviet gulags

December 28, 1981

A peace camp was set up at the Molesworth Royal Air Force base in Cambridgeshire in the United Kingdom. Led by men and women from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and inspired by the encampment at Greenham Common, it was set up to protest the siting of 64 U.S. ground-launched nuclear-armed cruise missiles at the base.
Their songs

December 28, 1996

Three were arrested at the Capitol Hill Post Office in Seattle for refusing to leave after attempting to mail humanitarian supplies to Iraq in defiance of the U.S.-led embargo.
Read more about sanctions against Iraq

December 29, 1890

The U.S. Army killed approximately 300 Oglala Sioux at Wounded Knee, in the new state of South Dakota. The 7th Cavalry (Custer's old command) fired their artillery amidst mostly unarmed women, children, and fleeing men. The Wounded Knee Massacre was the final major military battle in the genocide against Native Americans. 18 soldiers received Congressional Medals of Honor for their "bravery.”
Encroaching white settlement after gold was found in 1874 on Sioux lands led to conflicts. The Great Sioux Agreement of 1889 established reservations for the native inhabitants and encouraged further white settlement on Indian land.

Other perspectives and sad, disturbing photos

December 29, 1996

War-weary guerrilla and government leaders in Guatemala signed an accord ending 36 years of civil conflict.

What was the conflict all about?

December 30, 1901

The worst year in the 20th century for lynching in the U.S. ended with a total of 130 victims (105 blacks, 25 whites).
Ida Wells-Barnett had been a teacher and newspaper editor in Memphis, Tennessee, where she wrote against the evils of lynching in her columns in The Free Speech and Headlight. Forced from the South by threat of violence, she continued her efforts in Chicago.
Ida Wells-Barnett

From a letter to President William McKinley from Barnett, published in the Cleveland Gazette April 9, 1898:
Mr. President, the colored citizens of this country in general, and Chicago in particular, desire to respectfully urge that some action be taken by you as chief magistrate of this great nation, first for the apprehension and punishment of the lynchers of Postmaster Baker, of Lake City, S.C.; second, we ask indemnity for the widow and children, both for the murder of the husband and father, and for injuries sustained by themselves; third, we most earnestly desire that national legislation be enacted for the suppression of the national crime of lynching.
For nearly twenty years lynching crimes, which stand side by side with Armenian and Cuban outrages, have been committed and permitted by this Christian nation. Nowhere in the civilized world save the United States of America do men, possessing all civil and political power, go out in bands of 50 and 5,000 to hunt down, shoot, hang or burn to death a single individual, unarmed and absolutely powerless. Statistics show that nearly 10,000 American citizens have been lynched in the past 20 years. To our appeals for justice the stereotyped reply has been that the government could not interfere in a state matter. Postmaster Baker’s case was a federal matter, pure and simple. He died at his post of duty in defense of his country’s honor, as truly as did ever a soldier on the field of battle. We refuse to believe this country, so powerful to defend its citizens abroad, is unable to protect its citizens at home. Italy and China have been indemnified by this government for the lynching of their citizens. We ask that the government do as much for its own.

December 30, 1936

Members of the United Automobile Workers sat down at a General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. GM, the world’s largest corporation at the time, had refused to recognize or negotiate with the union, despite passage of the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) in 1935 which promised unions the right to organize. The local’s membership adopted a tactic developed by French workers. Instead of picketing outside a factory only to be ignored or forcibly cleared away, the sit-down strike enabled workers to halt production and seize the plant "from the inside." The strike began just days after the end of a successful sit-down at Ford supplier Kelsey-Hayes.

above: Workers sit down at GM

below: Supporters pass in food to sitdown strikers

“Master Hands,” a corporate documentary about the Flint plant shot shortly before the strike

December 30, 1971

Daniel Ellsberg, a Defense Department analyst, and his colleague Anthony Russo were indicted by a federal grand jury for releasing the Pentagon Papers to the news media. The papers were part of a 7000-page, top-secret government history of the United States’ political and military involvement in the Vietnam War from 1945 to 1971, and described air strikes over Laos, raids along the coast of North Vietnam, and offensive actions taken by U.S. Marines well before the American public had been told that such actions had occurred.

Why were they being prosecuted?

December 30, 1972

President Richard Nixon ordered an end to U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. The most recent air strikes had been retaliation for North Vietnam’s walking out of the peace negotiations in Paris and pressure to force it to submit to U.S. terms. Bombing of strategic targets and Hanoi (the North’s capital) and Haiphong lasted for eight days with a 36-hour break for Christmas. The 20,000 tons (18.1 million kg) of bombs killed just over 1600 North Vietnamese, and a dozen B-52s were lost. North Vietnam agreed to return to the bargaining table.

December 30, 1993

The state of Israel and the Vatican under Pope John Paul II agreed to extend diplomatic recognition to one another.

December 31, 1915

The U.S. branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) was founded.
FOR’s Mission Statement
The Fellowship of Reconciliation seeks to replace violence, war, racism and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace and justice. We are an interfaith organization committed to active nonviolence as a transforming way of life and as a means of radical change. We educate, train, build coalitions, and engage in nonviolent and compassionate actions locally, nationally, and globally.

FOR’s website

December 31, 1970

The U.S. Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which in 1964 authorized an increase in U.S. military involvement in Vietnam as a response to a reported attack on U.S. naval forces patrolling close to the North Vietnamese border. The reports of the attacks were later revealed to be fictitious. The resolution was used as the basis for the entire war which lasted until 1974 and took the lives of millions of Vietnamese and over 58,000 Americans.
What really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin

December 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

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