Closer Readings Commentary

December Ideas From the EDSITEment Calendar

You might think that December is the month of holidays and parties, but did you know that it is also full of historic anniversaries such as the arrest of Rosa Parks on the first, and important birthdays such as that of Mexican poet and nun Sor Juana Inès de la Cruz on the second?

Other literary figures born in this month include the poets John Milton, Matthew Arnold, Christina Rosetti and novelists Joseph Conrad, Willa Cather, Shirely Jackson, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Presidents Martin Van Buren and Woodrow Wilson along with General George Marshall were some of the distinguished American statesmen born in December. 

The Monroe Doctrine was declared and with the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Prohibition was repealed. Of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th  in the words of FDR is "a day that will live in infamy" but when the  13th Amendment was adopted on the 6th, abolitionists rejoiced that the United States was finally cleansed of its “original sin" of slavery.

In fact, something eventful in American and World History, literature, and the arts happened each day of the December calendar. By clicking on the day of the month, below, you will be taken to lesson plans, articles from Humanities magazine, and vetted websites that you can use in your classroom. So take some time to review December's "gifts" now, and plan to surprise your students and your colleagues with these eye-opening events.

December 1

1955—Rosa Parks arrested

1824—House of Representatives decides presidential election between Jackson and John Quincy Adams

December 2

1823—President James Monroe declares "Monroe Doctrine"

1648—Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz born

1867—British author Charles Dickens gives his first public reading in New York City

December 3

1847—Frederick Douglass, Martin R. Delaney begin anti-slavery paper The North Star

1755—American painter Gilbert Stuart born

1857—Polish-born English novelist Joseph Conrad born

December 4

1942—FDR orders dismantling of WPA

1842—Sioux chief Ta-sunko-witko (Crazy Horse) born

December 5

1782—President Martin Van Buren is born

1830—English poet Christina Georgina Rossetti born

1933—Prohibition repealed

December 6

1864—In annual message to Congress, Lincoln calls for passage of 13th Amendment

1865—The 13th Amendment, prohibiting slavery is adopted

1877—Edison makes first sound recording on phonograph

December 7

1873—American author Willa Cather born

1941—Japan attacks Pearl Harbor; U.S. declares war on Japan

1878—Akiko Yosano, Japanese Poet, born

December 8

1765— Inventor Eli Whitney (Cotton Gin) born

1863—President Lincoln announces reconstruction plan for South

December 9

1608—English poet John Milton born

December 10

1898—Spanish–American War ends

1830—American poet Emily Dickinson born

1950—Faulkner receives Nobel Prize for Literature

December 11

1803—French composer Hector Berlioz born

1918—Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn born

December 12

1805— American abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison born

1745—First Chief Justice John Jay born

December 13

1862—Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg

December 14

1799—George Washington dies

1916—American novelist and short story writer Shirley Jackson born

December 15

1791—The Bill of Rights becomes part of Constitution

1890—Death of Chief Sitting Bull

1939—Movie version of Gone With the Wind premieres

December 16

1773—Boston Tea Party

1775—English novelist Jane Austen born

1770—German composer Ludwig van Beethoven born

December 17

1903—Wright Brothers' first flight in Kitty Hawk

December 18

1878—Joseph Stalin born

December 19

1777—Washington's Continental Army marches into Valley Forge

1790—Sir William Parry, Arctic explorer, born

1732—Benjamin Franklin begins publishing Poor Richard’s Almanac

December 20

1803—Louisiana Purchase formalized

December 21

1375—Giovanni Boccaccio, Italian poet, dies

1940— F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer, dies

December 22

1744—Abigail Adams, second first lady (1797–1801), born

December 23

1907—First all-steel passenger railroad coach completed in Altoona, PA

1823—"A Visit from St Nicholas" published

December 24

1814—Treaty of Ghent (end of the War of 1812) signed

1818—Handel's Messiah first performed, in Boston

1822—Matthew Arnold, British poet, born

December 25

1776—Washington's army crosses Delaware; defeats Hessians at Trenton


December 26

1492—First Spanish settlement in New World founded by Christopher Columbus

December 27

1571—Johannes Kepler, German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, born

December 28

1856—Thomas Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States, born

1973—Alexander Solzhenitsyn publishes expose of Soviet prison system, Gulag Archipelago

December 29

1890—300 Sioux Indians are killed by U.S. troops at Wounded Knee

1808—Andrew Johnson, 17th U.S. president and first to be impeached, born

December 30

1879—Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance first performed

1865—Joseph Rudyard Kipling, British author, born

1813—British burn Buffalo during War of 1812

December 31

1879—Edison gives first public demonstration of incandescent lamp

New Year’s Eve

1880—General George C. Marshall, soldier and statesman, born