What happened on this day in history: The Boston Tea Party takes place, the iconic author Jane Austen is born, the Battle of the Bulge begins, and more events from December 16th.
1773: The Boston Tea Party Unfolds
A group of American colonists, led by Samuel Adams, dumps 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor in protest of taxes levied by the British. Many of the men were reportedly part of the Sons of Liberty, a group that had been founded to protest the Stamp Act and other legislation that contributed to “taxation without representation.” On December 16, these men dressed as Native Americans, boarded ships docked in the harbor, and threw 45 tons of tea into the water below — nearly $1 million in today’s currency.
1775: Jane Austen Is Born
Jane Austen, one of the most prominent female authors of the 19th century, is born in Hampshire, England. Austen published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, in 1811. She went on to write five more novels, including her most well-known work, Pride and Prejudice, though only four were published before her death at age 41 in 1817. Since her works were initially published anonymously, she received little fame during her lifetime, though she’s now one of the best-known female authors in history.
1935: Thelma Todd Dies
American actress Thelma Todd dies of carbon monoxide poisoning in Los Angeles, California. The 29-year-old was found dead in her car, and detectives initially thought that her death was accidental, but questions remained about suicide or even murder. Todd had troubled relationships with her ex-husband and other lovers before she died, but a grand jury decided there was no evidence of foul play.
1944: The Battle Of The Bulge Begins
The Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s last major offensive campaign during World War II, begins in the Ardennes region between Belgium and Luxembourg. American forces were not prepared for the attack, but they were able to hold out until reinforcements arrived, and the Allies eventually won the battle about a month later. The Battle of the Bulge was both the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States in World War II, with about 90,000 American casualties.
2011: Michael Peterson Is Released From Prison
Michael Peterson is released from prison after eight years. Michael Peterson and his wife Kathleen Peterson lived in Durham, North Carolina with their children. In 2001, Michael Peterson called 911 after he found his wife at the bottom of their stairs in a pool of her own blood. Physical evidence did not corroborate the story he told to police, and investigators arrested him for the murder of his wife. In 2003, a jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison. However, Peterson was later resentenced and is currently a free man. This case is still one of the most controversial in United States history.