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History of the World

By Mark Andrews

Dec. 13: ON THIS DATE in 1769, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, one of the eight Ivy League schools, received its charter. In 2003, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. troops.

Dec. 14: ON THIS DATE in 1799, George Washington, the first president of the United States, died at age 67. In 1962, the U.S. space probe Mariner II approached Venus, transmitting information about the planet back to Earth.

Dec. 15: ON THIS DATE in 1890, Sioux Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, S.D., during a clash with tribal police. In 1939, the motion picture "Gone with the Wind" had its world premiere in Atlanta.

Dec. 16: ON THIS DATE in 1653, Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists dressed as Indians boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea overboard to protest tea taxes.

Dec. 17: ON THIS DATE in 1777, France formally recognized the United States. In 1903, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful manned, powered airplane flight on a beach near Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Dec. 18: ON THIS DATE in 1892, Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1940, Adolf Hitler signed a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Called Operation Barbarossa, it was launched in June 1941.