December 10th in History

Today in History

  • Martin Luther publicly burns a copy of the papal bull Exurge Domini, which had threatened him with excommunication, an act that signaled his final break with Catholicism and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (1520)
  • King Henry VIII executes two lovers of his fifth wife Catherine Howard (1541)
  • Mississippi becomes the 20th US state (1817)
  • The first traffic lights are installed outside Westminster Palace in London. They had semaphore arms and were illuminated by red and green gas lamps (1868)
  • The first edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is first published in Canada and England (1884 — a US edition appears the following February)
  • The Treaty of Paris formally ends the Spanish-American War (1898)
  • The first Nobel Prizes are awarded (1901)
  • First Transcontinental Flight: Competing for the Hearst $50,000 prize for the first aviator to fly from coast to coast across the United States, Cal Rodgers, flying a customized Wright EX biplane named the Vin Fiz (after a then-popular soft drink), lands in Long Beach, California, and taxies his plane into the Pacific Ocean (1911). The trip, which began in Sheepshead Bay, New York, on September 17, 1911, took 70 stops to make the trip. Today, the Vin Fiz can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.
  • The first Heisman Trophy is awarded (1935)
  • Edward VIII, King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, signs the Instrument of Abdication, and becomes the only British monarch to voluntarily renounce the throne since the Anglo-Saxon period (1936)
  • Mighty Mouse Playhouse premiers on TV (1955). (Fun fact: Mighty Mouse was originally conceived as a super powered housefly named “Superfly.”)
  • The “300 Million Yen Robbery:” Thieves posing as policemen rob a bank car carrying 300 million yen, or nearly US$4 million. It was the largest robbery in Japanese history, and remains unsolved at the time of this writing (1968)


  • Rod Blagojevich, politician (1961)
  • Kenneth Branagh, actor (1960)
  • Raven-Symoné, actress (1960)
  • Susan Dey, actress (1952)
  • Abu Abbas (ابو عباس), PLO founder (1948)
  • Tommy Kirk, actor (1941)
  • Chad Stuart, musician, Chad & Jeremy (1941)
  • Dan Blocker, actor (1928)
  • Alexander Courage, wrote the Star Trek TV theme (1919)
  • Dorothy Lamour, actress (1914)
  • Chet Huntley, news anchor (1911)
  • Melvil Dewey, librarian who developed the Dewey Decimal system (1851)
  • Emily Dickinson, poet (1830)
  • George MacDonald, fantasy author (1824)
  • Ada Lovelace, computer programmer (1815)
  • Thomas Gallaudet, deaf educator (1798)


  • Augusto Pinochet, dictator (2006)
  • Eugene McCarthy, US presidential candidate (2006)
  • Richard Pryor, comedian (2005)
  • Rick Danko, Band member (1999)
  • Faron Young, “hillbilly heartthrob” (1996)
  • Armand Hammer, businessman (1990)
  • Jascha Heifetz, violinist (1987)
  • Ed Wood, director (1978)
  • Adolph Rupp, basketball coach (1977)
  • Karl Barth, theologian (1968)
  • Otis Redding, singer (1967)
  • Algernon Blackwood, author (1951)
  • Damon Runyon, author (1946)
  • Luigi Pirandello, author (1936)
  • Horace Dodge, car manufacturer (1920)
  • Joseph Hooker, botanist (1911)
  • Red Cloud, Sioux chief (1909)
  • Alfred Nobel, armaments manufacturer (1896)
  • Averroes (ابن رشد), philosopher (1198)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Admission Day (Mississippi)
  • Constitution Day (Thailand)
  • Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales (international, informal)
  • Human Rights Day (International)
  • Nobeldagen (Alfred Nobel Day) (Sweden)

December 10 is the 344th day of the year (345th in leap years). There are 21 days remaining until the end of the year.