December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Technological Milestone

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

December 21, 1790:  Samuel Slater opened the first cotton mill in the US (Pawtucket, R.I). The Industrial Age in America begins.(see January 9, 1793)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism


Discussion of Abolition Prohibited

December 21, 1837: following an anti-slavery speech by Vermont representative William Slade, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a rule that prohibited any future discussion about the abolition of slavery in the House. The rule remained in effect until 1844, preventing the topic of abolition from even being discussed for almost a decade.  [EJI article] (next BH, see February 6, 1838)

Montgomery bus boycott

December 21, 1956: buses in Montgomery, Alabama, started racially-integrated service following federal court rulings ending on-board segregation. (BH, see Dec 24; see MBB for expanded chronology)

Michael Griffith murder

December 21, 1987:  Jon Lester, Scott Kern and Jason Ladone were convicted of the second-degree manslaughter of Michael Griffith (December 20, 1986). Ultimately nine people would be convicted on a variety of charges related to the death of Griffith.

Autherine Lucy Foster

In 1988: two professors invited Autherine Lucy Foster to speak at the University about the events that had occurred in 1956. After her speech, faculty members persuaded the Board of Trustees to overturn her expulsion.

In 1989: Autherine Lucy Foster again enrolled at the University of Alabama. Her daughter Grazia also was a student at the time. (BH, see Jan 8; U of A, see May 9, 1992)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Fourth Amendment

December 21, 1911: a police officer arrested Fremont Weeks at the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri where he was employed by an express company. Other officers entered the Weeks’ house without a search warrant and took possession of papers and articles which were afterwards turned over to the US Marshal. The officers returned later in the same day with the marshal, still without a warrant, and seized letters and envelopes they found in the drawer of a chiffonier. These papers were used to convict Weeks of transporting lottery tickets through the mail. On February 24, 1914 in Weeks v. United States, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that the warrantless seizure of items from a private residence constituted a violation of the Fourth Amendment. It also prevented local officers from securing evidence by means prohibited under the federal exclusionary rule and giving it to their federal colleagues. (see February 24, 1914)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Emma Goldman

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

December 21, 1919, : the ship USAT Buford, labeled the “Red Ark,” embarked from New York City on this day, carrying 249 aliens who were deported because of their alleged anarchist or Communist beliefs.

The most famous passenger was the anarchist, birth control advocate and anti-war activist Emma Goldman, who had been arrested June 15, 1917, for opposing the draft. Anarchist Alexander Berkman accompanied her. An estimated 184 of the 249 aliens on the Buford were members of the Union of Russian Workers, which had been one of the principal targets of the first Palmer Raids on November 7, 1919. All of the passengers were shipped to the Soviet Union. (see Emma Goldmanj for expanded chronology)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

US Labor History

December 21 Peace Love Activism

December 22, 1951: ten days after an Illinois State mine inspector approved coal dust removal techniques at New Orient mine in West Frankfort, the mine exploded, largely because of coal dust accumulations, killing 119 workers. (see April 8, 1952)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

December 21, 1965: a federal grand jury in NY indicted Thomas Cornell (teacher) Marc Edelman (cabinetmaker), Roy Lisker (novelist and teacher), and James Watson (on staff of Catholic Worker Pacifist Movenet) of burning their draft cards.  (Vietnam, see Dec 24; DCB, see February 10, 1966)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

December 21 Music et al

Glen Campbell

December 21 – 27, 1968, Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman is the Billboard #1 album. (see March 8, 1969)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Space Race

December 21 – 27, 1968: Apollo 8 completed the first manned orbit of the moon. Frank Borman commands the mission, Jim Lovell acted as navigator and William Anders photographer and geological observer. (see January 16, 1969)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Voting Rights

December 21, 1970:  in Oregon v Mitchell, the US Supreme Court held that the Congress could set voter age requirements for federal elections but not for state elections. The case also upheld Congress’s nationwide prohibition on literacy tests and similar “tests or devices” used as voting qualifications as defined in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (see March 23, 1971)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism


Elvis meets Nixon

December 21, 1971: Elvis Presley met President Nixon. According to notes take at the meeting by  Nixon aide Egil “Bud” Krogh “Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit. The President then indicated that those who use drugs are also those in the vanguard of anti-American protest.”

“I’m on your side,” Elvis told Nixon, adding that he’d been studying the drug culture and Communist brainwashing. Then he asked the president for a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. “Can we get him a badge?” Nixon asked Krogh.

Krogh said he could and Nixon ordered it done. (Elvis, see August 16, 1977)


In 1973: The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNND) and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) are merged to form the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). (see Cannabis for expanded chronology)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Iran–Contra Affair

December 21, 1982: Congress, passed the first Boland Amendment, which prohibited the CIA or the Defense Department from spending any money to assist the anti-Communist Contras in Nicaragua. (Congress passed further Boland Amendments in 1983 and 1984.) The Boland Amendments set the stage for the Iran-Contra scandal that eventually engulfed the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Reagan and his CIA Director William Casey were deeply committed to fighting communism at every opportunity around the world, even if it involved breaking the law — as the Iran-Contra scandal revealed. (see December 7, 1985)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism


Lockerbie, Scotland

December 21, 1988: N.Y.-bound Pan-Am Boeing 747 exploded in flight from a terrorist bomb and crashed into Scottish village, killing all 259 aboard and 11 on the ground. Passengers included 35 Syracuse University students and many U.S. military personnel. Libya formally admitted responsibility in August 2003 and offered $2.7 billion compensation to victims’ families. (see December 16, 1989)

Iraq War II

December 21, 2004: a suicide bomber attacked the forward operating base next to the US military airfield at Mosul, Iraq, killing 22 people; it was the deadliest suicide attack on US soldiers during the Iraq War. (photos from NYT)(IWII, see January 12, 2005; Terrorism, see June 14, 2005)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Dissolution of the USSR

December 21, 1989: Romanian leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, spoke to crowd of the Socialist revolution’s chievements and Romanian “multi-laterally developed Socialist society.” Roughly eight minutes into his speech, several people began jeering, booing and whistling at him and shouting “Timișoara,” a reaction that would have been unthinkable for most of the previous quarter-century of his rule. As the speech wore on, more and more people did the same. He tried to silence them by raising his right hand and calling for the crowd’s attention before order was temporarily restored, then proceeded to announce social benefit reforms.

The crowd continued to boo and heckle him. (see Dec 22)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism


December 21, 1993: the Department of Defense issued a directive prohibiting the U.S. Military from barring applicants from service based on their sexual orientation. “Applicants… shall not be asked or required to reveal whether they are homosexual, ” states the new policy, which still forbids applicants from engaging in homosexual acts or making a statement that he or she is homosexual. This policy is known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” (see Dec 31)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism


In the year 2000, Texas led the US in executions with 40 inmates being put to death. Oklahoma followed with 11, Virginia with 8, and Florida with 6 executions. Between 1976 and Mar. 30, 2010, Texas executed 452 inmates. Virginia came in second most with 106 executions and Oklahoma in third with 92 executions.

Between January 17, 1995 and December 21, 2000, Texas Governor George W. Bush presided over the execution of 150 men and two women, more than any other governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Governor Bush received a summary from his legal counsel before each execution to determine whether or not to allow the execution to proceed. The first fifty-seven summaries were prepared by Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as US Attorney General under President Bush between Feb. 3, 2005 and Sep. 17, 2007. Governor Bush granted one clemency during his term in office.(see June 11, 2001)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Japanese Internment Camps

December 21, 2006: President George W. Bush signed into law a bill that authorized up to $38 million for the preservation and interpretation of confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. The law directed the National Park Service to administer this grant program, once funds were available.(see JIC for expanded chronology)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Sexual Abuse of Children

Pope Benedict

December 21, 2012: Pope Benedict XVI named the Rev. Robert W. Oliver as the Vatican’s new sex crimes prosecutor. Oliver, a canon law specialist at the Archdiocese of Boston, would be the “promoter of justice” at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal office that reviews all abuse cases. (NYT article) (see Feb 11)

Pope Francis

December 21, 2017: Pope Francis and others eulogized Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, the disgraced former archbishop of Boston who resigned after it was revealed he had protected pedophile priests, with a full cardinal’s funeral at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

At the last minute, the Vatican cancelled plans to broadcast the funeral.

The Vatican website had posted a link to a live television feed that showed it would broadcast the “Funeral Mass for Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, of the Title of Santa Susanna Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter,” but shortly before the funeral started, the video link disappeared from the site, and the Vatican’s YouTube channel on showed just the exterior of the plaza surrounding the basilica.

The page posted no explanation for the change, although Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) had criticized the Vatican’s plans for an elaborate celebration of Cardinal Law’s life. (see January 18, 2018)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism


Student Rights

December 21, 2017: the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that an Imperial County, California high school football player must be allowed to kneel during the singing of the national anthem and can’t be ordered by his school to stand for the performances.

The decision temporarily struck down rules set by the San Pasqual Valley Unified School District that prohibited “kneeling, sitting or similar forms of political protest” at athletic events and required students and coaches to “stand and remove hats/helmets … during the playing or singing of the National Anthem,” according to the ruling by district court.

The school district set the rules after students from a rival high school in neighboring Arizona yelled racial slurs at San Pasqual Valley High School students and threatened to force the football player at the center of the controversy to stand, the ruling said. (FS, see May 23, 2018; SR, see July 19, 2018)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Affordable Care Act

December 21, 2017: despite President Trump’s assertion that “Obamacare is imploding” the administration announced that 8.8 million people had signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace. The number surprised many because it was only slightly lower than the total in the last open enrollment period, which was twice as long and heavily advertised suggesting that consumers want and need the coverage and subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act, despite political battles over the law. (next ACA, see (see December 14, 2018)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Immigration History

Asylum permitted

December 21, 2018: the Supreme Court refused to allow the Trump administration to immediately enforce its new policy of denying asylum to migrants who illegally cross the Mexican border.

The court’s ruling thwarted, at least for now, President Trump’s proclamation in November that only migrants who arrived in the United States legally or applied at a port of entry would be eligible for asylum. [NYT story]

Trump’s Wall

December 21, 2018: President Trump shared a design of a tall fence on Twitter, which he referred to as a “Steel Slat Barrier.”

“Totally effective while at the same time beautiful!” he said. (IH & TW, see Dec 22)

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Crime and Punishment

December 21, 2018:  President Trump signed into law the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act [simply aka, the First Step Act], a prison and sentencing reform bill that had strong bi-partisan support.

The act expanded rehabilitative opportunities, increased “good time”-served credits for most federal prisoners, reduced mandatory minimum sentences for a number of drug-related crimes, and formally banned some correctional practices including the shackling of pregnant women. [Guardian article]

December 21 Peace Love Art Activism

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

After four years of Robert Newsom repeatedly sexually assaulting her, the girl Celia killed Newsom as he was about to rape her again

Missouri hung Celia.

December 21, 1855

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia
This may be a picture of the slave Celia
“Spiegel im Spiegel” from Alina by Arvo Pärt
Missouri Hangs Slave Celia


It was 1850 and Robert Newsom owned 800 acres of land in Middle River, Missouri. He also owned five male slaves. During that summer Newsom purchased Celia, a fourteen-year-old girl from a slave owner in neighboring Audrain County

Newsom immediately began to rape Celia. Between 1851 and 1855 Celia gave birth to two children.

In late 1854 or early 1855, George, one of  Newsom’s slaves, began a relationship with Celia.

In early March 1855, Celia was again pregnant.  George told Celia that she must stop Newsom’s abuse. George would later say that  “he would have nothing more to do with her if she did not quit the old man.”

Celia asked Newsom’s adult daughters to intervene. They may or may not have, but if they did, nothing happened. Newsom continued to rape Celia. Celia asked Newsom to stay away while she was pregnant. He refused.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

June 23, 1855

On June 23, 1855 around 10 PM, Newsom entered Celia’s cabin. He advanced upon her, but she picked up a large stick and struck him in the head. He collapsed. She hit him again, killing him.

Celia  decided to burn Newsom’s body. She built a  large fire in the cabin’s fireplace, dragged Newsom’s body into it, and kept the fire burning.  Late in the night, with the body mostly ashes, she dispersed them in the outside yard.  She buried larger pieces of bone under the hearth.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

June 24, 1855

Noting the absence of Newsom the next morning, the worried family searched for him. Neighbors assisted, one of whom was William Powell. Powell knew of the relationship between George and Cilia (and also likely knew of Newsom’s abuse). Powell questioned George suspecting that George may have sought revenge.

George denied any knowledge and at first did not cooperate, but did eventually tell Powell that the last thing he knew Newsom had done was walk toward Celia’s cabin.  A search of the cabin turned up nothing.

Powell questioned Celia. He threatened to take away her children if she did not cooperate.  She did finally admit that Newsom had come to her cabin and that with him still outside she had hit him and that he had left.

Powell continued to question Celia, She finally confessed to the killing, but as self-defense. A more intense search of her cabin and the area revealed Newsom’s burnt bone fragments, buttons, a pocketknife, and other personal items. Authorities arrested Celia.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

June 25, 1855

At the June 25 inquest, Celia insisted that she did not mean to kill Newsom. Nonetheless, a six-person panel found probable cause to charge Celia with murder. She was brought to the Callaway County jail in Fulton, nine miles to the north of the Newsom farm.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

October 9, 1855

The trial began in the Callaway County Courthouse. Circuit Court Judge William Hall presided.  Hall chose John Jameson as Celia’s defense lawyer. Jameson was an experienced lawyer, but a slave owner. Hall also appointed two inexperienced lawyers to assist Jameson.

The twelve jurors were all white males (women were not allowed as jurors at the time), all but one married with children, and several were slave owners.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

October 10, 1855

The trial

Celia’s defense planned on demonstrating that her actions were in self-defense, but Judge Hall denied many defense requests that would have ameliorated the charge, including the request to instruct the jury that the killing was justifiable if done to prevent a sexual assault.

The jury returned a guilty verdict the same day.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

October 11, 1855

Defense lawyers moved to set aside the jury verdict and grant a new trial. Hall ruled two days later.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

October 13, 1855

Judge Hall denied the defense’s motion for a new trial and sentenced Celia to be “hanged by the neck until dead” on November 16.  Judge Hall refused to issue an order staying execution until the Missouri Supreme Court could rule on Celia’s appeal.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

November 11, 1855

While in jail Celia delivered a stillborn child. By November 11, the Missouri Supreme Court still had not ruled on the appeal. What probably happened next is that the defense team helped Celia escape and kept her hidden until the November 16 execution date passed.  In late November, they Celia returned to jail. Hall set a new execution date of December 21.

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

December 14, 1855

The Supreme Court ruled against Celia in her appeal on December 14. In part, the state justices said they “thought it proper to refuse the prayer of the petitioner,” having found “no probable cause for her appeal.”

Missouri Hangs Slave Celia

December 21, 1855

Celia died on the gallows at 2:30 P.M.

More: Another source