Today in History: Dec. 18

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218 BC – Second Punic War: Battle of the Trebia – Hannibal's Carthaginian forces defeat those of the Roman Republic. 1271 – Kublai Khan renames his empire "Yuan" (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China. 1622 – Portuguese forces score a military victory over the Kingdom of Kongo at the Battle of Mbumbi in present-day Angola. 1655 – The Whitehall Conference ends with the determination that there was no law preventing Jews from re-entering England after the Edict of Expulsion of 1290. 1777 – The United States celebrates its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the American rebels over British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga in October. 1787 – New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. 1793 – Surrender of the frigate La Lutine by French Royalists to Lord Samuel Hood; renamed HMS Lutine, she later becomes a famous treasure wreck. 1833 – The national anthem of the Russian Empire, "God Save the Tsar!", is first performed. 1865 – US Secretary of State William Seward proclaims the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, prohibiting slavery throughout the USA. 1878 – The Al-Thani family become the rulers of the state of Qatar. 1892 – Premiere performance of The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Saint Petersburg, Russia. 1898 – Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat sets the first officially recognized land speed record of 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h) in a Jeantaud electric car. 1900 – The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook, Victoria Narrow-gauge (2 ft 6 in or 762 mm) Railway (now the Puffing Billy Railway) in Victoria, Australia is opened for traffic. 1916 – World War I: The Battle of Verdun ends when German forces under Chief of staff Erich von Falkenhayn are defeated by the French, and suffer 337,000 casualties. 1917 – The resolution containing the language of the Eighteenth Amendment to enact Prohibition is passed by the United States Congress. 1932 – The Chicago Bears defeat the Portsmouth Spartans in the first NFL Championship Game. 1935 – The Lanka Sama Samaja Party is founded in Ceylon. 1939 – World War II: The Battle of the Heligoland Bight, the first major air battle of the war, takes place. 1944 – World War II: Seventy-seven B-29 Superfortress and 200 other aircraft of U.S. Fourteenth Air Force bomb Hankow, China, a Japanese supply base. 1958 – Project SCORE, the world's first communications satellite, is launched. 1966 – Saturn's moon Epimetheus is discovered by astronomer Richard Walker. 1972 – Vietnam War: President Richard Nixon announces that the United States will engage North Vietnam in Operation Linebacker II, a series of Christmas bombings, after peace talks collapsed with North Vietnam on the 13th. 1973 – Soviet Soyuz Programme: Soyuz 13, crewed by cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk, is launched from Baikonur in the Soviet Union. 1973 – The Islamic Development Bank is founded. 1981 – First flight of the Russian heavy strategic bomber Tu-160, the world's largest combat aircraft, largest supersonic aircraft and largest variable-sweep wing aircraft built. 1990 – International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is adopted. 1999 – NASA launches into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT. 2002 – California gubernatorial recall: Then Governor of California Gray Davis announces that the state would face a record budget deficit of $35 billion, roughly double the figure reported during his reelection campaign one month earlier. 2005 – The Chadian Civil War begins when rebel groups, allegedly backed by neighbouring Sudan, launch an attack in Adré. 2006 – The first of a series of floods strikes Malaysia. The death toll of all flooding is at least 118, with over 400,000 people displaced. 2006 – United Arab Emirates holds its first-ever elections. 2015 – Kellingley Colliery, the last deep coal mine in Great Britain, closes.

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