-- — Today is Tuesday, Dec. 17, the 351st day of 2013. There are 14 days left in the year.
Highlight in History
On Dec. 17, 1938, German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission by splitting the nuclei of uranium into lighter elements while performing experiments in Berlin.
On this date
In 1777, France recognized American independence.
In 1830, South American patriot Simon Bolivar (see-MOHN’ boh-LEE’-vahr) died in Colombia.
In 1865, Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, known as the “Unfinished” (because only two movements had been completed) was performed publicly for the first time in Vienna, 37 years after the composer’s death.
In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, conducted the first successful manned powered-airplane flights near Kitty Hawk, N.C., using their experimental craft, the Wright Flyer.
In 1925, Col. William “Billy” Mitchell was convicted at his court-martial in Washington of insubordination for accusing senior military officials of incompetence and criminal negligence; he was suspended from active duty.
In 1933, in the inaugural NFL championship football game, the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants, 23-21, at Wrigley Field.
In 1944, the U.S. Army announced it was ending its policy of excluding Japanese-Americans from the West Coast.
In 1957, the United States successfully test-fired the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.
In 1959, Stanley Kramer’s anti-nuclear war drama “On the Beach,” starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, premiered on all seven continents (including Antarctica).
In 1979, in a case that aggravated racial tensions, Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive, was fatally injured after leading police on a chase with his motorcycle in Miami. (Four white police officers accused of beating McDuffie were later acquitted, sparking riots.)
In 1981, members of the Red Brigades kidnapped Brig. Gen. James L. Dozier, the highest-ranking U.S. Army official in southern Europe, from his home in Verona, Italy. (Dozier was rescued 42 days later.)
In 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died after more than a decade of iron rule; he was 69, according to official records, but some reports indicated he was 70.