Today In History Spotlights Dec. 23, 1913, Pres. Woodrow Wilson Establishes Federal Reserve System

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Today’s History Spotlight

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President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act, establishing the Federal Reserve System. Following the Panic of 1907, many government officials sought the creation of a centralized bank. A national bank in the United States had been absent since the presidency of Andrew Jackson.

The purpose of the act is “to provide for the establishment of Federal reserve banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes.” Headquartered in Washington DC, the Federal Reserve’s influence was expanded in 1933, with the introduction of the Banking Act and the Federal Open Market Committee.

What Happened On This Day – December 23

  • 1994 Organized crime boss Whitey Bulger goes into hiding. The convicted murderer stayed out of sight for 16 years causing great embarrassment to the American Federal Bureau of Investigations. He was finally arrested in 2011.
  • 1990 Slovenian referendum on independence from Yugoslavia. The Eastern European country had joined the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a socialist republic state in 1945. Actual independence for the country did not occur until June of 1991, when the Slovenians rejected Yugoslavian interference in the form of a 10-day war that ended on July 7, 1991. A new constitution for the country came into force on December 23, 1991.
  • 1975 Metric Conversion Act signed by U.S. President Gerald Ford. The act made the metric system the preferred system of weights and measures in the United States. Today, the metric system is predominantly only used by scientists and academics in the U.S. Common people tend to follow the customary units that were developed before American Independence. The U.S. is 1 of 3 countries in the world that do not use the metric system. Liberia and Burma are the other two.
  • 1958 Tokyo Tower opened to the public. At 333 meters tall, it is world’s tallest, self-supported steel tower. It is based on the Eiffel Tower and is used for communication purposes.
  • 1888 Vincent van Gogh cuts off his ear. It is now believed that the Dutch painter was suffering from a psychotic break at the time of the event. After cutting off his left ear, van Gogh bandaged his head and took the severed ear to a prostitute for safekeeping.

Births On This Day – December 23

  • 1967 Carla Bruni – Italian/French singer-songwriter, model
  • 1964 Eddie Vedder – American singer-songwriter, guitarist
  • 1963 Jim Harbaugh – American football player
  • 1944 Wesley Clark – American general
  • 1918 Helmut Schmidt – German politician, 5th Chancellor of Germany

Deaths On This Day – December 23

  • 2009 Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme – Tibetan politician
  • 2007 Oscar Peterson – Canadian pianist, composer
  • 2004 P. V. Narasimha Rao – Indian lawyer, politician, activist, 9th Prime Minister of India
  • 1953 Lavrentiy Beria – Soviet politician
  • 1795 Henry Clinton – English general, politician

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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