While riding with President Chiang Kai-shek of Taiwan, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower waves to the Taiwanese people during his visit to Taipei in June 1960.

This Year in History

Our Selections From December

All year, we've been highlighting historical news events—and Foreign Affairs articles about those events—as part of our "This Day in History" series. Here are our collected selections for December.

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1

1918: A New Balkan State

The creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later renamed Yugoslavia, was announced in Belgrade, Serbia. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

2

1954: A Sino-American Defense Pact

The United States and Taiwan sign the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty in Washington, D.C. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

3

1944: Civil War In Greece

Following Germany's withdrawal, civil war erupts in Athens between the communist National Liberation Front and the liberal Democratic National Army. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

4

1918: Woodrow Wilson Sails to Versailles

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson travels for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, becoming the first U.S. president to visit Europe while in office. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

5

1978: The Soviet-Afghan “Friendship Treaty”

The Soviet Union agrees to provide economic and military assistance to the Afghan government. A year later, the USSR is drawn disastrously into the Soviet-Afghan war. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

6

1941: FDR Sends Telegram to Japanese Emperor

Based on mistaken intelligence that a Japanese fleet was headed for Thailand, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sends a message to Emperor Hirohito asking him to "prevent further death and destruction in the world." Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

7

1972: The Last Apollo Moon Mission

On this final voyage, the crew of Apollo 17 takes a famous photograph of Earth that is later known as the Blue Marble. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

8

1941: The United States Declares War Upon Japan

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt addresses the nation, calling Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor the day before, "a date which will live in infamy." Congress votes nearly unanimously to go to war. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

9

1905: France Passes Law on Separation of Church and State

The law is regarded as the foundation of the French principle of secularism or laïcité. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

10

1901: The First Nobels

Six years after the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel establishes the award in his will in 1895, the prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine are presented for the first time. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.  

11

1946: UNICEF Established

The organization is set up to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries devastated by World War II. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

12

1936: The Kidnapping of Chiang Kai-Shek

In what is known as the "Xian incident," Marshal Zhang Xueliang kidnaps General Chiang Kai-Shek and forces him into a truce with the Communist Party so that they can form a united front against the Japanese. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive. 

13

1949: Israel Votes to Move Capital to Jerusalem

The Knesset agrees to transfer Israel's capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision remains unrecognized by the international community. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive. 

14

1995: Dayton Accords Signed

The peace treaty, which ended three-and-a-half years of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is signed in Paris. The agreement had been reached a month prior at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive. 

15

1945: MacArthur Abolishes Shintoism in Japan

General Douglas MacArthur orders the abolishment of Shinto, the state religion of Japan, which was believed to have been used as a tool to encourage ultra-nationalism during World War II. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive. 

16

1944: Battle of the Bulge

German's surprise attack catches the Allied forces completely off guard. U.S. forces bear the brunt of the attack and suffer their highest casualties for any operation during the war. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

17

1927: U.S. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg Adopts Part of the Briand Plan

The plan, proposed by French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand to Kellogg, called for a treaty outlawing war between the two countries. This later led to the Kellog-Briand Pact of 1928, which also included Germany. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

18

1939: Battle of the Heligoland Bight Begins

The air battle between Germany and the United Kingdom marked the beginning of the longest aerial campaign during WWII: the defense of the Reich. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

19

1970: Polish Protests End Violently

The Polish government suppresses riots against a sudden increase in food prices. Over three dozen people are killed and 1,000 are wounded. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

20

1995: NATO Assumes Peacekeeping Duties in Bosnia

The United Nations delegates military authority to the alliance so that it can deploy 60,000 troops to Bosnia to enforce the Dayton Peace Accords signed days earlier. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

21

1958: Charles de Gaulle Elected President of France

France's World War II hero wins in a sweeping victory only three months after the approval of a new French constitution, making him the first president of the Fifth Republic. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

22

1989: The Brandenburg Gate Reopens

After nearly three decades of closure, the border crossing is reopened, uniting East and West Germany. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

23

1990: Slovenia Holds an Independence Referendum

Voters were asked whether the Republic of Slovenia should break away from Yugoslavia and 88.5 percent answered "yes." Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

24

1994: Terrorist Hijacking of French Plane

Islamic terrorists seize Air France flight 8969 in Algiers. Over the next two days, they kill three hostages and fly the plane to Marseilles where French special forces intervene, killing the hijackers and releasing all other passengers. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

25

1941: The Battle of Hong Kong Ends

Hong Kong falls to Japan in one of the first battles of the Pacific War during World War II. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

26

1945: The Moscow Conference

The foreign ministers of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States meet to discuss issues related to the Far East, as well as prepare peace treaties with Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, and Romania, among other things. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

27

1979: Soviet Forces Seize Control of Afghanistan

Seven hundred Soviet troops descend on major Afghan government and military buildings in Kabul, including the Tajbeg Presidential Palace. By the morning of the next day, the occupation is complete. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

28

2012: Putin's Adoption Ban

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a law that prohibits the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

29

1940: The Second Great Fire of London

During War World II, Germans firebomb the city, dropping more than 24,000 explosives. Photographer Herbert Mason takes his famous shot of St. Paul's Cathedral, sitting undamaged amidst large clouds of smoke. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

30

1993: The Vatican Recognizes Israel

After years of unfruitful talks with Israel, Pope John Paul II breaks through and signs the Fundamental Agreement Between the Holy See and the State of Israel, which recognizes Israel and also outlines property rights and tax exemptions of the Roman Catholic Church within Israeli territory. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

31

1946: Truman Officially Declares WWII Over

President Harry S. Truman signs Presidential Proclamation 2714 to officially declare the cessation of hostilities of World War II. Although the fighting had stopped on May 8, 1945 in Europe and September 2, 1945, the United States remained under a state of war to allow for the completion of war crimes trials. Read more about it in the Foreign Affairs archive.

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