Today in 1777, France officially recognized independence of British colonies in America – as the United States of America.
Today in 1797, the first-ever impeachment trial against a US senator (William Blount, Tennessee) began. His alleged crime? Conspiring with the British to enlist frontiersmen and Cherokee Indians to assist the British in conquering parts of Spanish Florida and Louisiana. His guilt was never actually sorted out.
Today in 1900, the New Ellis Island Immigration station was completed – costing $1.5-million.
Today in 1903, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conducted the first successful powered and controlled flight of an airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Though the flight lasted less than a minute, the two are credited as the fathers of modern aviation.
Today in 1969, the U.S. Air Force ended its “Blue Book” investigation into the possibility of UFOs. Their conclusion was that there was not enough evidence to substantiate the thousands of reported sightings.
Today in 1975, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was sentenced to life in prison in a Sacramento, California federal courtroom, for her attempt on the life of President Ford. She was released on parole on August 14, 2009.
Today in 1976, WTCG-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, owned by Ted Turner, changed its call letters to WTBS, and was uplinked via satellite to become the first commercial TV station to cover the entire U.S. WTBS started on four cable systems, available in 24,000 homes.
Today in 1997, in what was hailed as a landmark ruling, a New Jersey judge granted gay couples the same status as heterosexual couples in adopting children.
Today in 1998, House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston shocked fellow Republicans by admitting he'd had extramarital affairs.
Today in 1998, Republicans advanced the impeachment case against President Clinton to the House floor for a debate the following day. On December 19th, the House voted to impeach him.
Today in 2000, Terrell Owens (San Francisco 49ers) caught an NFL-record 20 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. Tom Fears (Los Angeles Rams) held the previous record with 18 catches on December 3, 1950, against the Green Bay Packers. Owens also broke Jerry Rice's franchise record of 16 receptions set in 1994 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Today in 2000,President-elect George W. Bush selected Colin Powell to be the first African-American secretary of state.
Today in 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the largest overhaul of US intelligence gathering in 50 years. While the bill aimed to tighten borders and aviation security…it also led the way for the phone snooping and the warrantless searches of average Americans.
Today in 2007, Republic of Lakotah asserted independence from the United States.
Today in 2012, NASA completed a successful mission to map the Moon’s gravity field.
Today in 2017, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" took in more than $450m worldwide in its opening weekend – the second largest opening ever in North America (with a $220m take.)