1823 - The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore (" 'Twas the night before Christmas...") was published.
1834 - English architect Joseph Hansom patented his 'safety cab', better known as the Hansom cab.
1888 - Following a quarrel with Paul Gauguin, Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh cut off part of his own earlobe.
1922 - The British Broadcasting Corporation began daily news broadcasts.
1941 - During World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
1948 - Former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo. They had been found guilty of crimes against humanity.
1965 - A 70-mph speed limit was introduced in Britain.
1989 - Ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were captured as they were attempting to flee their country.
1990 - Elections in Yugoslavia ended, leaving four of its six republics with non-Communist governments.
1995 - A fire in Dabwali, India, killed 540 people, including 170 children, during a year-end party being held near the children's school.