On this day, Dec. 7 …

1941: Japan launches a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as part of its plan to conquer Southeast Asian territories; the raid, which claims 2,400 American lives, would prompt the United States to declare war against Japan the next day.

Also on this day:

  • 43 B.C.: Roman statesman and scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero is slain at the order of the Second Triumvirate.
  • 1787: Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
  • 1842: The New York Philharmonic performs its first concert.
  • 1911: China abolishes the requirement that men wear their hair in a queue, or ponytail.
  • 1972: America’s last moon mission to date is launched as Apollo 17 blasts off from Cape Canaveral.
  • 1972: Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos, is stabbed and seriously wounded by an assailant shot dead by her bodyguards.
  • 1987: Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev sets foot on American soil for the first time, arriving for a Washington summit with President Ronald Reagan.
  • 1988: A major earthquake in the Soviet Union devastates northern Armenia; official estimates put the death toll at 25,000.
  • 1993: A gunman opens fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train, killing six people and wounding 19. (The shooter would be sentenced to a minimum of 200 years in prison.)
  • 2004: Hamid Karzai is sworn in as Afghanistan’s first popularly elected president.
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  • 2017: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announces resignation after a series of sexual harassment allegations.