December 1, 1955 - The birth of the modern American civil rights movement occurred as Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back section of a municipal bus. Her arrest resulted in a year-long boycott of the city bus system by African Americans and led to legal actions ending racial segregation on municipal buses throughout the South.

December 1, 1988
 - Benazir Bhutto was nominated to become prime minister of Pakistan, the first woman to govern a Muslim nation.

December 1, 1989
 - Mikhail Gorbachev became the first Soviet Russian leader to visit the Vatican and meet the Pope, thus ending 72 years of strict atheist policy in Communist Russia.

December 1, 1990
 - England was connected to mainland Europe for the first time since the Ice Age as engineers digging a railway tunnel under the English Channel broke through the last rock layer.

December 1, 1994
 - The head of the U.N. Commission on Rwanda estimated 500,000 deaths had resulted from genocide.

December 2, 1804
 - Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France by Pope Pius VII in Paris.

December 2, 1805
 - Napoleon defeated Russia and Austria in the Battle of Austerlitz.

December 2, 1823
 - President James Monroe introduced his "Monroe Doctrine" during his annual message to the Congress, prohibiting any further colonization of the American continents by European powers, stating, "we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety..."

December 2, 1852
 - The Second Empire was proclaimed in France with Napoleon III as emperor.

December 2, 1859
 - Abolitionist leader John Brown was executed for treason at Charles Town, West Virginia, following his raid on the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry.

December 2, 1942
 - Physicists led by Enrico Fermi carried out the world's first successful nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago.

December 2, 1954
 - The U.S. Senate condemned Senator Joseph McCarthy for misconduct following his ruthless investigations of thousands of alleged Communists.

December 2, 1971
 - The United Arab Emirates was formed, consisting of seven Arab kingdoms on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula including the former Trucial states Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah. Ras al-Khaimah became a member in 1972. The area has some of the world's largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas.

December 2, 1979
 - Electors in Iran voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new constitution granting absolute power to Ayatollah Khomeini.

December 2, 1982 
- The first permanent artificial heart was implanted in 61-year-old Barney C. Clark by Dr. William De Vries at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Clark, who was near death at the time of the operation, survived 112 days after the implantation.

 - French painter Georges Seurat (1859-1891) was born in Paris. He was a leader in the neo-impressionist movement of the late 19th Century.

December 3, 1931
 - British dominions gained complete legislative independence as the Statute of Westminster gave equal status to the dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and Newfoundland.

December 3, 1962
 - Edith Sampson was sworn in as the first African American female judge, after she was elected associate judge of the Municipal Court in Chicago.

December 3, 1967
 - The first successful heart transplant was performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard at Cape Town, South African, on Louis Washkansky, who lived for 18 days.

December 3, 1984 
- A deadly gas leak (of methyl isocyanate) at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killed at least 3,000 persons and injured more than 200,000.

December 3, 1993
 - Britain's Princess Diana announced she was stepping out of the public spotlight, desiring more privacy amid unyielding attention from the tabloid press and 'paparazzi.'

- American portrait painter Charles Stuart (1755-1828) was born near Narragansett, Rhode Island. Best known for his portraits of George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson.

 - Polish novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was born in the Ukraine (as Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski). Although he could speak no English at age 20, he went on to become an outstanding novelist, best known for his tales of seafaring life including Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim.

December 4, 1791
 - The Observer, now the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world, was first published in Britain.

December 4, 1829
 - The British banned the practice of "suttee" in India in which Indian females traditionally burned themselves to death on their husband's funeral pyre.

December 4, 1918
 - The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed.

December 4, 1943 
- During World War II, the second Cairo Conference took place, attended by Prime Minister Churchill, President Roosevelt and President Inonu of Turkey.

December 4, 1991
 - The last American hostage held in Lebanon was released. Journalist Terry Anderson of the Associated Press had been kidnapped on March 16, 1985 and held for 2,454 days by Islamic Jihad (Holy War) captors. He was one of 15 Americans held hostage for periods ranging from two months to more than six years. Three of the hostages; William Buckley, Peter Kilburn and Lieutenant Colonel William Higgins, were killed during their captivity. The others were released one or two at a time.

 - Scottish essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was born in the village of Ecclefechan, Scotland. He wrote a three volume history of the French Revolution. Other works included; Heroes and Hero-WorshipLife and Letters of Oliver Cromwell and Frederick the Great.

December 5, 1492 
- Haiti was discovered by Christopher Columbus.

December 5, 1791 
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died a pauper at age 35 in Vienna, Austria. He had become seriously ill and rapidly declined, leading to speculation that he had been poisoned, although this was later proven false. During his brief life, he created over 600 musical compositions and is widely considered one of the finest composers who ever lived.

December 5, 1876 
- President Ulysses S. Grant delivered a speech of apology to Congress claiming mistakes he made as president were "errors of judgment, not intent."

December 5, 1933 
- The 18th Amendment (Prohibition Amendment) to the U.S. Constitution was repealed. For nearly 14 years, since January 29, 1920, it had outlawed the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages in the U.S.

December 5, 1955 
- In Alabama, the Montgomery bus boycott began in response to the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a white man. Organized by the African American community, the boycott lasted until December 20, 1956, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling integrated the public transportation system.

December 5, 1955 
- The AFL-CIO was founded after two separate labor organizations, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, joined together following 20 years of rivalry, thus becoming the leading advocate for trade unions in the U.S.

 - Martin van Buren (1782-1862) the 8th U.S. President was born in Kinderhook, New York. He was the first President who was born a citizen of the United States. He served from March 4, 1837 to March 3, 1841.

Birthday - American lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) was born in New York City. He collaborated with his brother George to create many Broadway successes including; Lady Be GoodFunny FaceStrike Up the Band, and songs such as The Man I Love, Someone to Watch Over Me, and I Got Rhythm.

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