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Today in history: December 13

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2005. There are 18 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 13, 1862, Union forces suffered a major defeat to the Confederates at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

On this date:
In 1577, Sir Francis Drake of England set out with five ships on a nearly three-year journey that would take him around the world.

In 1769, Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, received its charter.

In 1918, President Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit Europe while in office.

In 1928, George Gershwin’s musical work “An American in Paris” had its premiere, at Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 1944, during World War II, the U.S. cruiser Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze attack that claimed more than 130 lives.

In 1964, in El Paso, Texas, President Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz set off an explosion that diverted the Rio Grande, reshaping the U.S.-Mexican border and ending a century-old dispute.

In 1978, the Philadelphia Mint began stamping the Susan B. Anthony dollar, which went into circulation the following July.

In 1981, authorities in Poland imposed martial law in a crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. (Martial law formally ended in 1983.)

In 1994, an American Eagle commuter plane carrying 20 people crashed short of Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, killing 15.

In 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole under a farmhouse in Adwar, Iraq, near his hometown of Tikrit.

Ten years ago: As President Clinton flew to Paris to attend the signing of the Bosnian peace accord, Congress gave him partial backing for his Bosnia policy. China’s most influential democracy activist, Wei Jingsheng, who already had spent 16 years in prison, was sentenced to 14 more years. (However, Wei was later granted medical parole by Beijing, and allowed to travel to the U.S.)

Five years ago: Seven inmates made a daring escape from a maximum security prison in Kenedy, Texas. (Six were later recaptured; one killed himself; the surviving six were sentenced to death for killing a Dallas-area police officer during a robbery.) President Clinton ended his last presidential visit to Northern Ireland after meeting for nearly three hours with members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

One year ago: A jury in Redwood City, Calif., recommended the death penalty for Scott Peterson for the murders of his wife and unborn child. NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe resigned. A Chilean judge indicted former dictator General Augusto Pinochet on charges of kidnapping nine political dissidents and killing one of them during his 17-year military regime.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz is 85. Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 80. Actor Christopher Plummer is 78. Actor Robert Prosky is 75. Country singer Buck White is 75. Movie producer Richard Zanuck is 71. Singer John Davidson is 64. Singer Ted Nugent is 57. Rock musician Jeff “Skunk” Baxter is 57. Country musician Ron Getman is 57. Actor Robert Lindsay is 56. Country singer-musician Randy Owen is 56. Actress Wendie Malick is 55. Country singer John Anderson is 51. Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert is 51. Singer-actor Morris Day is 49. Actor Steve Buscemi is 48. Actor Johnny Whitaker is 46. Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx is 38. Rock singer-musician Thomas Delonge (Blink 182) is 30. Actress Chelsea Hertford is 24.

Thought for Today: “A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few.” — Judge Learned Hand, American jurist (1872-1961).