This Week in History, Dec 11 - Dec 17
Dec 11, 1936
Edward VIII abdicates after ruling for less than one year, he becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. He chose to abdicate after the British government, public, and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry the American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson. On the evening of December 11, he gave a radio address in which he explained, "I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love." On December 12, his younger brother, the duke of York, was proclaimed King George VI.
Dec 12, 1980
Da Vinci notebook sells for over 5 million to American oil tycoon Armand Hammer, who pays $5,126,000 at auction for a notebook containing writings by the legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci. This original manuscript, written around 1508, was one of some 30 similar books da Vinci produced during his lifetime on a variety of subjects.
Dec 13, 2000
Al Gore concedes presidential election. The US Vice President says he reluctantly concedes defeat to Texas Governor George W. Bush in his bid for the presidency. This is following weeks of legal battles over the recounting of votes in Florida, on this day in 2000.
Dec 14, 1911
Roald Amundsen reaches South Pole. The Norwegian becomes the first explorer to reach the South Pole, beating his British rival, Robert Falcon Scott. Amundsen, born in Borge, near Oslo, in 1872, was one of the great figures in polar exploration. In 1897, he was first mate on a Belgian expedition that was the first ever to winter in the Antarctic.
Dec 15, 2001
Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens. Italy's landmark reopens after a team of experts spent 11 years and $27 million to fortify the tower without eliminating its famous lean. Back in the 12th century, construction began on the bell tower for the cathedral of Pisa, a busy trade center on the Arno River in western Italy, some 50 miles from Florence.
Dec 16, 1773
It was in Boston Harbor, where a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The midnight raid, popularly known as the "Boston Tea Party," was in protest of the British Parliament's Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade.
Dec 17, 1903
First airplane flies. Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight.