This Day in History: Dec. 12

(Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers)

On this day, Dec. 12 …

2000: George W. Bush becomes president-elect as a divided U.S. Supreme Court reverses a state court decision for recounts in Florida’s contested election.

Also on this day:

  • 1787: Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
  • 1913: Authorities in Florence, Italy, announce that the Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1911, has been recovered.
  • 1917: During World War I, a train carrying some 1,000 French troops from the Italian front derails while descending a steep hill in Modane; at least half of the soldiers are killed in France’s greatest rail disaster.
  • 1917: The Rev. Edward Flanagan finds Boys Town outside Omaha, Neb.
  • 1946: A United Nations committee votes to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to be the site of the U.N.’s headquarters.
  • 1977: “Saturday Night Fever,” starring John Travolta, premieres in New York City.
  • 1995: By three votes, the Senate kills a constitutional amendment giving Congress authority to outlaw flag burning and other forms of desecration against Old Glory.
  • 1997: Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the international terrorist known as “Carlos the Jackal,” goes on trial in Paris on charges of killing two French investigators and a Lebanese national. (Ramirez would be convicted and is serving a life prison sentence.)
  • 2003: Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is knighted by Britain.
  • 2003: Keiko, the killer whale made famous by the “Free Willy” movies, dies in the Norwegian fjord that he’d made his home.
  • 2013: The House votes to ease across-the-board federal spending cuts and head off future government shutdowns, acting after Speaker John Boehner unleashes a stinging attack on tea party-aligned conservative groups campaigning for the measure’s defeat. 


  • 2017: Democrat Doug Jones wins Alabama’s special Senate election over Republican Roy Moore, who had denied accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls that allegedly took place when he was in his 30s. It is the first Democratic Senate victory in Alabama in a quarter-century.