1823: The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore (“‘Twas the night before Christmas…”) was published in the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel.
1783: George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Va.
1788: Maryland voted to cede a 100-square-mile area for the seat of the national government; about two-thirds of the area became the District of Columbia.
1888: Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh had an argument with fellow artist Paul Gauguin. Already suffering from mental troubles, Van Gogh was so upset that he cut off part of his own ear.
1893: The Engelbert Humperdinck opera “Hansel und Gretel” was first performed, in Weimar, Germany.
1941: During World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
1942: Bob Hope agreed to spend Christmas entertaining troops in Alaska. It became the beginning of a tradition that would last for three decades and take him around the world.
1947: Scientists at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey achieved a major breakthrough with an invention called a point-contact transistor, which paved the way to a new era of miniaturized electronics.
1968: 82 crew members of the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo were released by North Korea, 11 months after they had been captured.
1980: A state funeral was held in Moscow for former Premier Alexei N. Kosygin, who had died Dec. 18 at age 76.
1986: The experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, round-the-world flight without refueling as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
1995: A fire in Dabwali, India, killed 540 people, including 170 children, during a yearend party being held near the children’s school.