Today In History Spotlights Dec. 19, 1977, George Washington’s Winter Encampment At Valley Forge, PA

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Today’s History Spotlight

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George Washington and the Continental Army begin their winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. At this point in the American Revolution, British forces had secured several major victories. Usually romanticized in portraits, in actuality, conditions at Valley Forge were very harsh.

Washington himself reported seeing one man clothed in nothing but a blanket. Due to disease and malnutrition, nearly 2,000 soldiers died. This is also the site of where George Washington is rumored to have experienced a supernatural occurrence.

What Happened On This Day – December 19

  • 2012 Election of First female President of South Korea. Park Geun-hye is the eleventh President of South Korea and also holds the distinction of being the first female head of state in Northeast Asia. She assumed office in February 2013.
  • 1984 Hong Kong Treaty Signed. Formally known as the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong, the Sino-British Treaty was signed by Zhao Ziyang of China and Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom in Beijing. The treaty decided the fate of Hong Kong as a territory of China from July 1, 1997.
  • 1972 Apollo 17 returns to Earth. The last mission of the United States’ Apollo program spent 12 days in space and was the first human spaceflight launched at night from the United States. The three-member crew spent more time orbiting the Moon and on the surface of the Moon than during any other Moon landings. It was also the last time humans set foot on Earth’s only natural satellite.
  • 1971 A Clockwork Orange released. The dystopian film was directed by Stanley Kubrick and was based on a novella of the same name by British author, Anthony Burgess. Based in a futuristic London, the film opened with critical acclaim, though the centrality of violence in it drew a lot of mainstream criticism. Today, the movie is considered to be one of the best movies of the 20th century.
  • 1886 Sherlock Holmes’ The Adventure of Beryl Coronet begins on this date. The short detective story written by Arthur Conan Doyle and featuring detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend and assistant Dr. Watson began on this date with the theft of 3 precious crystals from a coronet. The story is the 11th in a series of 12 stories contained in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Births On This Day – December 19

  • 1980 Jake Gyllenhaal – American actor
  • 1974 Ricky Ponting – Australian cricketer
  • 1967 Criss Angel – American magician
  • 1915 Édith Piaf – French singer-songwriter, actress
  • 1906 Leonid Brezhnev – Soviet politician

Deaths On This Day – December 19

  • 2012 Robert Bork – American lawyer, scholar, United States Attorney General
  • 2009 Hussein-Ali Montazeri – Iranian theologian, scholar, activist
  • 2008 Dock Ellis – American baseball player
  • 2000 John Lindsay – American politician, 103rd Mayor of New York City
  • 1848 Emily Brontë – English novelist

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Garrett Smith
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