Today is Wednesday, Dec. 20, the 354th day of 2017. There are 11 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History: On Dec. 20, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was completed as ownership of the territory was formally transferred from France to the United States.
On this date:
In 1790, the first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
In 1812, German authors Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of the first edition of their collection of folk stories, "Children's and Household Tales."
In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union as all 169 delegates to a special convention in Charleston voted in favor of separation.
In 1864, Confederate forces evacuated Savannah, Georgia, as Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman nearly completed his "March to the Sea."
In 1924, Adolf Hitler was released from prison after serving nine months for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch.
In 1945, the Office of Price Administration announced the end of tire rationing, effective Jan. 1, 1946.
In 1946, the Frank Capra film "It's A Wonderful Life," starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, had a preview showing for charity in New York, a day before its official world premiere.
In 1963, the Berlin Wall was opened for the first time to West Berliners, who were allowed one-day visits to relatives in the Eastern sector for the holidays.
In 1976, Richard J. Daley, the mayor of Chicago since 1955, died in office at age 74.
In 1987, more than 4,300 people were killed when the Dona Paz, a Philippine passenger ship, collided with the tanker Vector off Mindoro island.
In 1989, the United States launched Operation Just Cause, sending troops into Panama to topple the government of Gen. Manuel Noriega.
In 1995, an American Airlines Boeing 757 en route to Cali, Colombia, slammed into a mountain, killing all but four of the 163 people aboard. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, NATO began its peacekeeping mission, taking over from the United Nations.
Ten years ago: Police used chemical spray and stun guns on protesters outside a New Orleans City Council meeting where members unanimously supported demolition of 4,500 public housing units for post-Hurricane Katrina redevelopment. Thieves broke into the Sao Paulo Museum of Art in Brazil and made off with two paintings, one by Pablo Picasso and the other by Candido Portinari. (The works were recovered in January 2008.) Utah opened the bowl season with a wild 35-32 victory over the Navy Midshipmen in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Five years ago: The State Department acknowledged major weaknesses in security and errors in judgment exposed in a scathing independent report on the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. The National Hockey League, in a labor fight with its players, announced the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through Jan. 14, 2013. Michael Phelps was named The Associated Press male athlete of the year. Three-time Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton acknowledged working as an escort following a report on The Smoking Gun website about her double life.
One year ago: President Barack Obama designated the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. A deadly chain-reaction explosion ripped through Mexico's best-known fireworks market on the northern outskirts of the capital, killing at least 36 people. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was injured in her playing hand by a knife-wielding attacker at her Czech Republic home and underwent surgery (the attacker remains at large).
Today's Birthdays: Original Mouseketeer Tommy Cole (TV: "The Mickey Mouse Club") is 76. Rhythm and blues singer-musician Walter "Wolfman" Washington is 74. Rock musician-music producer Bobby Colomby is 73. Rock musician Peter Criss is 72. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is 71. Psychic/illusionist Uri Geller is 71. Producer Dick Wolf ("Law & Order") is 71. Rock musician Alan Parsons is 69. Actress Jenny Agutter is 65. Actor Michael Badalucco is 63. Actress Blanche Baker is 61. Rock singer Billy Bragg is 60. Rock singer-musician Mike Watt (The Secondmen, Minutemen, fIREHOSE) is 60. Actor Joel Gretsch is 54. Country singer Kris Tyler is 53. Rock singer Chris Robinson is 51. Actress Nicole deBoer is 47. Movie director Todd Phillips is 47. Singer David Cook ("American Idol") is 35. Actor Jonah Hill is 34. Actor Bob Morley is 33. Singer JoJo is 27.
Thought for Today: "It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter." — Marlene Dietrich, German-born actress (1901-1992).