U.S. Presidential History: December

December 1

The House of Representatives decide who becomes the U.S. president in 1842 elections. According to the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Consititution, if none of the presidential candidates receives a majority of the electoral votes, the decision will be turned over to the House.

December 4

George Washington resigns as commanding general of the Continental Army after the Americans won the Revolutionary War against the British in 1781. However, he was later coaxed out of retirement and elected as the first president of the United States, a position he held until 1797.

December 6

Washington Monument is completed on this day in 1884. The monument was considered the tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion, standing at 555 feet in the air.

washington monument

December 7

Delaware officially becomes the first state of the modern United States.

December 10

The state (then territoy) of Wyoming becomes the first to grant unrestricted suffrage to women.

President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first American to receive a Nobel Prize. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the mediation of the Russo-Japanese War.

December 11

President James Madison presents to Congress a trade agreement with Great Britain. The commerce agreement signified Britain’s acceptance of America as a separate nation.

December 13

President Woodrow Wilson makes the first U.S. presidential trip to Europe.

December 14

George Washington, the United States’ first president, dies at home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old.

Mount Vernon

December 15

The Bill of Rights becomes law. The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution give these fundamental rights to all United States citizens:

  1. Congress must protect the rights of, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of petition, and freedom of religion.
  2. “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
  3. The government cannot send soldiers to live in private homes without the permission of the owners.
  4. The government cannot get a warrant to arrest a person or search their property unless there is “probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed.
  5. The government cannot put a person on trial for a crime until a grand jury has written an indictment. A person cannot be put on trial twice for the same crime. The government must follow due process of law before punishing a person or taking their property. A person on trial for a crime does not have to testify against themselves in court.
  6. The person who is accused of a crime should get a speedy trial by a jury. That person can have a lawyer during the trial. They must be told what they are charged with. The person can question the witnesses against them, and can get their own witnesses to testify.
  7. A jury trial is needed for civil cases.
  8. The government cannot require excessive bail or fines, or any cruel and unusual punishment.
  9. The listing of individual rights in the Constitution and Bill of Rights does not include all of the rights of the people and the states (For example, privacy).
  10. Any powers that the Constitution does not give to the United States belong to the states and the people. This does not include powers that the Constitution says the states cannot have (Source)

bill of rights

December 24

President Calvin Coolidge lights up the first official outdoor national Christmas tree at the White House lawn. The tree was also the first to be decorated with electric lights.

Christmas Tree

December 26

Former President Harry S. Truman dies in Independence, Missouri. He became the United States’ 33rd president after Franklin D Roosevelt passed away on April 12, 1945. Truman served as president for two terms from 1945 to 1953.

December 28

Future U.S. President Woodrow Wilson is born in Staunton, Virginia. President Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920 for his efforts in planning a treaty to prevent future world conflicts.

president wilson

December 29

Future U.S. President Andrew Johnson is born in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1864, he ran with Abraham Lincoln as vice president for Lincoln’s second term. When President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, vice president Johnson then became the 17th president of the United States.