December 29th in History

The murder of Thomas Beckett, by James William Edmund Doyle, from A Chronicle of England

Today in History

  • Archbishop Thomas Becket is killed by supporters of King Henry II (1170)
  • The US annexes the Republic of Texas, subsequently admitted as the 28th US state (1845)
  • The first American YMCA opens in Boston (1851)
  • Wounded Knee Massacre: 300 Lakota Sioux are killed by the US 7th Cavalry Regiment (1890)
  • Mongolia becomes independent (1911)\
  • Sun Yat-sen (孫文) becomes Provisional President of the Republic of China (1911)
  • James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is published as a magazine serial (1914)
  • A speech by Sir Muhammad Iqbal (محمد اقبال) on the occasion of his election to the presidency of the Muslim League outlines the “two-nation theory” and a vision for the creation of Pakistan (1930)
  • The Irish Free State adopts a new constitution and becomes Ireland (1937)
  • The Consolidated B-24 Liberator has its maiden flight (1939*)
  • The Luftwaffe firebombs London, creating the “Second Great Fire of London” that kills nearly 200 civilians (1940)
  • Physicist Richard Feynman gives his speech “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” considered the birth of nanotechnology (1959)
  • Khmer Rouge leaders apologize for the 1970 Cambodian genocide (1998)
  • The Russian language Akkala Sami dies along with its last-known speaker (2003)
  • The UK pays off its post-World War II loan from the US (2006)
*My father, Odell Dobson, was a gunner aboard a B-24 during World War II. His amazing true story is told in my magazine Random Jottings, issue 5, available for free download here.


  • Madame de Pompadour (Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour), official chief mistress of Louis XV (1721)
  • Charles Goodyear, inventor of vulcanized rubber (1800)
  • Andrew Johnson, 17th US President (1808)
  • William Gladstone, UK Prime Minister (1809)
  • Pablo Casals, cellist (1876)
  • Billy Mitchell, US general and military aviation pioneer (1879)
  • Klaus Fuchs, German physicist and spy (1911)
  • Billy Tipton, jazz musician (1914)
  • Robert Ruark, author (1915)
  • Vivica Lindfors, actress (1920)
  • Robert C. Baker, inventor of the chicken nugget (1921)
  • William Gaddis, author (1922)
  • Mary Tyler Moore, actress (1936)
  • Wayne Huizenga, entrepreneur (1937)
  • Jon Voight, actor (1938)
  • Rick Danko, singer-songwriter, member of The Band (1942)
  • Marianne Faithfull, singer-songwriter (1946)
  • Ted Danson, actor (1947)
  • Gelsey Kirkland, ballerina (1952)
  • Paula Poundstone, comedienne (1959)
  • Jennifer Ehle, actress (1969)
  • Jude Law, actor (1972)


  • Thomas Becket, archbishop and saint (1170)
  • Rainer Maria Rilke, poet (1926)
  • Wilhelm Maybach, carmaker (1929)
  • Don Marquis, journalist and poet (1937)
  • Fletcher Henderson, bandleader (1952)
  • Paul Whiteman, bandleader (1967)
  • Harold Macmillan, UK Prime MInister (1986)
  • Jean-Claude Forest, comics artist, creator of Barbarella (1998)
  • Earl Hindman, actor (2003)

Holidays and Celebration

  • Constitution Day (Ireland)
  • Independence Day (Mongolia)

Informal and made-up holidays include National Pepper Pot Day and Tick Tock Day.

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December 29 is the 363rd day of the year (364th in leap years). There are 2 days remaining until the end of the year.