This Day In History, December 25th

What happened on this day in history: George Washington crosses the Delaware River with his troops, JonBenét Ramsey is murdered, and more events from December 25th throughout history.

1776: George Washington Crosses The Delaware River

George Washington Crossing The Delaware

The Metropolitan Museum of ArtWashington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze. 1851.

General George Washington leads Continental Army troops across the Delaware River late Christmas night to carry out a surprise attack on Hessian forces. The German troops who were aiding the British Army in the Revolutionary War were camping in Trenton, New Jersey. Washington worried that they would be crossing the river once it froze over to attack the Continental Army, so he decided to act first, paddling through the partially-frozen water overnight and successfully winning the battle.

1899: Humphrey Bogart Is Born

American actor Humphrey Bogart is born in New York City. He began his career by acting in Broadway shows, and his breakthrough movie roles came with the films High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon in 1941. However, he’s best known for his leading role in Casablanca alongside actress Ingrid Bergman. Bogart was married four times, most famously to Lauren Bacall. He died of esophageal cancer in 1957 at the age of 57.

1914: The World War I Christmas Truce

World War 1 Christmas Truece

WikipediaThe London News’ illustration of the Christmas Truce: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches.”

Five months into World War I, British and German soldiers along the Western Front agree to an unofficial ceasefire known as the Christmas Truce.

Listen above to the History Uncovered podcast, episode 14: The Christmas Truce of 1914, also available on iTunes and Spotify.

Troops from both sides emerged from their trenches, shouted “Merry Christmas” to each other, and exchanged gifts of cigarettes and food. They sang carols, and there were even reports of a soccer game on No Man’s Land. In future years, officers quashed attempts at holiday ceasefires, but the Christmas Truce of 1914 is remembered today as a sign of humanity in the midst of a brutal war.

1950: The Stone Of Scone Is Stolen

The Stone of Scone, a relic from Scotland that’s been used in the coronation of English royalty since the 14th century, is stolen by four Scottish students from Westminster Abbey. After several months, it was located and returned.

1991: Michael Gorbachev Resigns From The Presidency

Michael Gorbachev, president of the USSR, resigns from the presidency. Four days prior to Gorbachev’s resignation, 11 Soviet states formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), effectively ending the Soviet Union. In his farewell speech, Gorbachev pointed to the CIS as the reason for his resignation. He also congratulated himself for starting the USSR on the path of democracy. Boris Yeltsin eventually replaced Gorbachev, becoming the first president of the Russian Federation.

1996: JonBenét Ramsey Is Murdered

JonBenét Ramsey

FacebookThough there are countless theories about her death, the murder of JonBenét Ramsey remains unsolved to this day.

Six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey is killed at her home in Boulder, Colorado under extremely suspicious circumstances. The young beauty queen’s father, John Ramsey, found her body in the basement hours after reporting her missing. Her official cause of death was “asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma.”

Though her murder remains unsolved to this day, many believe that a member of her family was involved.

2006: James Brown Dies

James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” dies at 73 years old in Atlanta, Georgia.