December 18 events in history

1271 Kublai Khan renames his empire "Yuan" (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China
1622 Portuguese forces score a military victory over the Kingdom of Kongo at the Battle of Mbumbi in present-day Angola
1655 The Whitehall Conference ends with the determination that there was no law preventing Jews from re-entering England after the Edict of Expulsion of 1290
1777 The United States celebrates its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the Americans over British General John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga in October
1787 New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution
1793 Surrender of the frigate La Lutine by French Royalists to Lord Samuel Hood; renamed HMS Lutine, she later becomes a famous treasure wreck
1867 The Angola Horror train wreck occurred
1878 John Kehoe, the last of the Molly Maguires is executed in Pennsylvania
1878 The Al-Thani family become the rulers of the state of Qatar
1888 Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law discover the ancient Indian ruins of Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde
1892 Premiere performance of The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Saint Petersburg, Russia
1898 Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat sets the first officially recognized land speed record of 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h) in a Jeantaud electric car
1900 The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook, Victoria Narrow-gauge (2 ft 6 in or 762 mm) Railway (now the Puffing Billy Railway) in Victoria, Australia is opened for traffic
1912 The Piltdown Man, later discovered to be a hoax, is announced by Charles Dawson
1916 World War I: The Battle of Verdun ends when German forces under Chief of staff Erich von Falkenhayn are defeated by the French, and suffer 337,000 casualties
1917 The resolution containing the language of the Eighteenth Amendment to enact Prohibition is passed by the United States Congress
1932 The Chicago Bears defeat the Portsmouth Spartans 9–0 in the first ever NFL Championship Game. Because of a blizzard, the game is moved from Wrigley Field to the Chicago Stadium, the field measuring 80 yards (73 m) long
1935 The Lanka Sama Samaja Party is founded in Ceylon
1939 World War II: The Battle of the Heligoland Bight, the first major air battle of the war, takes place
1944 World War II: 77 B-29 Superfortress and 200 other aircraft of U.S. Fourteenth Air Force bomb Hankow, China, a Japanese supply base
1956 Japan joins the United Nations
1958 Project SCORE, the world's first communications satellite, is launched
1966 Saturn's moon Epimetheus is discovered by Richard L. Walker
1969 Capital punishment in the United Kingdom: Home Secretary James Callaghan's motion to make permanent the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, which had temporarily suspended capital punishment in England, Wales and Scotland for murder (but not for all crimes) for a period of five years
1971 Capitol Reef National Park is established in Utah
1972 Vietnam War: President Richard Nixon announces that the United States will engage North Vietnam in Operation Linebacker II, a series of Christmas bombings, after peace talks collapsed with North Vietnam on the 13th
1973 Soviet Soyuz Programme: Soyuz 13, crewed by cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk, is launched from Baikonur in the Soviet Union
1973 The Islamic Development Bank is founded
1987 Larry Wall releases the first version of the Perl programming language
1989 The European Economic Community and the Soviet Union sign an agreement on trade and commercial and economic cooperation
1997 HTML 4.0 is published by the World Wide Web Consortium
1999 NASA launches into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT
2002 2003 California recall: Then Governor of California Gray Davis announces that the state would face a record budget deficit of $35 billion, roughly double the figure reported during his reelection campaign one month earlier
2005 The civil war in Chad begins when rebel groups, allegedly backed by neighbouring Sudan, launch an attack in Adré
2006 The first of a series of floods strikes Malaysia. The death toll of all flooding is at least 118, with over 400,000 people displaced
2006 United Arab Emirates holds its first-ever elections
2010 Anti-government protests begin in Tunisia, heralding the Arab Spring