This Day In History, December 20th

What happened on this day in history: South Carolina secedes from the Union, Elvis Presley is drafted into the U.S. Army, and more history on December 20th.

1860: South Carolina Secedes From The Union

South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the Union, setting in motion a chain of events that would lead to the outbreak of the Civil War. The South Carolina General Assembly voted unanimously to secede, citing that the federal government had failed to uphold its constitutional obligations to the state by “denounc[ing] as sinful the institution of slavery” and assisting “thousands of our slaves to leave their homes.”


1924: Adolf Hitler Is Released From Prison

Adolf Hitler is released from Landsberg Prison after spending nine months incarcerated for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, a failed coup against Germany’s government by the Nazi Party. While in prison, the future dictator started writing the first volume of Mein Kampf, his political manifesto. After his release, Hitler quickly helped grow the Nazi Party. Within 10 years, he would be elected the chancellor of Germany.


1957: Elvis Presley Is Drafted

Elvis In The Army

Wikimedia CommonsElvis Presley while stationed in Germany in 1958.

American singer Elvis Presley receives his draft notice while at Graceland for Christmas. Three months later, he was sworn in as a private in the United States Army. For 18 months, Presley served in the 3rd Armor Division in Friedberg, Germany. He was ultimately promoted to the rank of sergeant. Presley recorded numerous singles before his deployment, which his manager released periodically throughout his time in the army, helping to maintain his music career before he was honorably discharged in 1960.


2009: Brittany Murphy Dies

Simon Monjack And Brittany Murphy

John Shearer/WireImage via Getty ImagesBrittany Murphy with her husband Simon Monjack in November 2007.

American actress Brittany Murphy collapses in her Los Angeles, California home and is rushed to the hospital, where she goes into cardiac arrest and dies.

An autopsy later found that the 32-year-old had died from pneumonia, iron-deficiency anemia, and multiple drug intoxication from prescription medications. Her husband, Simon Monjack, died under shockingly similar circumstances just five months later, sparking conspiracy theories that toxic mold in their home had caused their deaths. However, this idea was never proven.