December dates in Virginia history
December 2, 1823
President James Monroe of Virginia delivers a message to the U.S. Congress outlining a new foreign
policy initiative, the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine stated that the United States would not interfere
in European affairs and that it expected European powers to cease efforts at colonizing the Western Hemisphere.
December 2, 1859
John Brown is hanged in Charles Town, Virginia, for leading a raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry and attempting to incite a slave rebellion.
December 4, 1619
Thirty-eight Englishmen leave their ship, venture onto land, and observe a prayer of Thanksgiving for safe passage to the New World. The site later became the plantation known as Berkeley, which directed in its charter that December 4th was a day of Thanksgiving to be "yearly and perpetually kept holy."
December 5, 1776
The first Greek letter fraternity in the nation, Phi Beta Kappa, is established by five College of William
and Mary students at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg.
December 5, 1792
George Washington is elected to a second term as U.S. president receiving 132 Electoral votes. John Adams came in second with 77 Electoral votes.
December 11, 1725
George Mason is born at the Mason family plantation in Fairfax County.
Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which later served as a model for the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.
December 14, 1799
George Washington dies at his home at age 67. Four days later a funeral was held at Mount Vernon, where his body was interred.
December 15, 1791
Virginia approves the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. This completed
the three quarters of states needed for ratification so that the amendments could become law.
December 15, 1934
Maggie Lena Walker, a successful African American business woman and the first woman in the nation to establish and head a bank, dies. She incorporated the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond in 1903 and served as its president until 1931, when the bank merged with other black banks to form the Consolidated Bank and Trust Company. Thousands of people turned out for her funeral in Richmond.
December 21, 1620
A group of religious dissenters, known as Pilgrims, left England for Virginia on their ship, the Mayflower. Blown off course by storms, the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Harbor, in present day Massachusetts, hundreds of miles
north of the land that had been granted them by the Virginia Company.
December 26, 1811
Sixty-eight people out of a crowd of 598 perish while trying to escape a fire at the Richmond Theater. Many of
Richmond's prominent citizens, including Virginia governor George W. Smith, were among the dead.
December 28, 1856
Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the eighth Virginia-born president, is born in Staunton. He served as president of Princeton University and governor of New Jersey before being elected as president.
December 31, 1862
President Lincoln approves the act of admission for West Virginia to join the Union, formally separating the
new state from Virginia. This was to take effect upon the insertion into the state constitution of a clause that
would provide for gradual emancipation of slaves.
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