On this day, Dec. 14 …

2012: A gunman with a semi-automatic rifle kills 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., then commits suicide as police arrive.

Also on this day:

  • 1799: George Washington, the first president of the United States, dies at his Mount Vernon, Va., home at age 67.
  • 1819: Alabama joins the Union as the 22nd state.
  • 1911: Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team become the first men to reach the South Pole, beating out a British expedition led by Robert F. Scott.
  • 1916: President Woodrow Wilson vetoes an immigration measure aimed at preventing “undesirables” and anyone born in the “Asiatic Barred Zone” from entering the U.S. (Congress would override Wilson’s veto in Feb. 1917.)
  • 1962: The U.S. space probe Mariner 2 passes Venus at a distance of just over 21,000 miles, transmitting information about the planet, such as its hot surface temperatures and predominantly carbon dioxide atmosphere.
  • 1964: The U.S. Supreme Court, in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, rules that Congress was within its authority to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against racial discrimination by private businesses (in this case, a motel that refused to cater to Blacks).
  • 1972: Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan conclude their third and final moonwalk and blast off for their rendezvous with the command module.
  • 1981: Israel annexes the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.
  • 1985: Wilma Mankiller becomes the first woman to lead a major American Indian tribe as she takes office as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
  • 1985: Former New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris, who’d hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, dies in Houston at age 51.
  • 1986: The experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, takes off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world.
  • 1988: President Reagan authorizes the U.S. to enter into a “substantive dialogue” with the Palestine Liberation Organization, after chairman Yasser Arafat said he was renouncing “all forms of terrorism.”
  • 2005: President George W. Bush defends his decision to wage the Iraq war, even as he acknowledges that “much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.”
  • 2008: An Iraqi journalist hurls his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad; Bush ducks the flying footwear as they whiz past his head and landed against the wall behind him. 
  • 2013: China carries out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades as the unmanned Chang’e 3 lander touched down on the lunar surface.
  • 2017: The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the Obama-era “net neutrality” rules, a move that gives internet service providers a free hand to slow or block specific websites and apps as they see fit, or charge more for faster speeds.