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• On Dec. 4, 1783, George Washington, commanding general of the Continental Army, informs his officers that he will be resigning his commission and returning to civilian life. In 1789, he was coaxed out of retirement and elected as the first president of the United States.
• On Dec. 7, 1805, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, having made a difficult trip across the rugged Rockies, set up winter camp near the mouth of the Columbia River. They named it Fort Clatsop, after the local Indian tribe.
• On Dec. 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, officially ending the institution of slavery, is ratified when Georgia votes to ratify. Mississippi, however, would not submit documentation to abolish slavery until 2013.
• On Dec. 5, 1945, five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers take off from Florida on a routine three-hour training mission near the Bahamas. Two hours later, the planes disappeared. Mariner aircraft, sent to locate the planes, also disappeared. No trace of the men or aircraft were ever found.
• On Dec. 2, 1954, the U.S. Senate votes 65 to 22 to condemn Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for conduct unbecoming a senator. The censure was related to McCarthy’s controversial investigation of suspected communists in the U.S. government, military and civilian society.
• On Dec. 1, 1959, 12 nations sign the Antarctica Treaty, which bans military activity and weapons testing on that continent. It was the first arms-control agreement signed during the Cold War.
• On Dec. 3, 1979, 11 people are killed when a crowd of general admission ticket-holders to a Who concert surge forward in an attempt to enter Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum and secure prime unreserved seats. The glass entrance doors shattered as the 8,000-strong crowd pushed forward.
• On Dec. 8, 1980, John Lennon, a former member of the Beatles, is shot and killed by Mark David Chapman, an obsessed fan, in New York City. Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life, and he remains behind bars at Attica Prison in New York.
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