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December 7, 2012

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Dec. 8, the 343rd day of 2012. There are 23 days left in the year. The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins at sunset.

Today’s highlight in history:

On Dec. 8, 1941, the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Japan, a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On this date:

In 1776, during the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington’s retreating army crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey into Pennsylvania.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was free of original sin from the moment of her own conception.

In 1886, the American Federation of Labor was founded in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1914, “Watch Your Step,” the first musical revue to feature a score composed entirely by Irving Berlin, opened in New York.

In 1949, the Chinese Nationalist government moved from the Chinese mainland to Formosa as the Communists pressed their attacks.

In 1961, a fire at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut resulted in 16 deaths. The Beach Boys’ first single, “Surfin’,” was released.

In 1962, the first session of the Second Vatican Council was formally adjourned. Typographers went on a 114-day strike against four New York City newspapers.

In 1972, a United Airlines Boeing 737 crashed while attempting to land at Chicago-Midway Airport, killing 43 of the 61 people on board, as well as two people on the ground; among the passengers who died were Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, U.S. Rep. George W. Collins, D-Ill., and CBS News correspondent Michele Clark.

In 1980, rock star John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan.

In 1982, a man demanding an end to nuclear weapons held the Washington Monument hostage, threatening to blow it up with explosives he claimed were inside a van. (After a 10-hour standoff, Norman D. Mayer was shot dead by police; it turned out there were no explosives.)

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