1814 - The War of 1812 between the U.S. and Britain was ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium.
1818 - Franz Gruber of Oberndorf, Germany composed the music for "Silent Night" to words written by Josef Mohr.
1828 - William Burke who, with his partner William Hare, dug up the dead and murdered to sell the corpses for dissection, went on trial in Edinburgh.
1851 - A fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, destroying about 35,000 volumes.
1914 - In World War I, the first air raid on Britain was made when a German airplane dropped a bomb on the grounds of a rectory in Dover.
1944 - A German submarine torpedoed the Belgian transport ship S.S. Leopoldville with 2,235 soldiers aboard. About 800 American soldiers died. The soldiers were crossing the English Channel to be reinforcements at the battle that become known as the Battle of the Bulge.
1951 - Libya achieved independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, under King Idris.
1965 - A meteorite landed on Leicestershire. It weighed about 100lbs.
1966 - Luna 13 landed on the moon.
1979 - Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in support of the country's Marxist government.
1981 - Reggie Jackson announced that he would join Gene Autry’s California Angels for the 1982 season.
1985 - Fidel Castro, the Cuban president, announced that he was a non-smoker.