The History Channel
* On Dec. 8, 1542, in Linlithgow Palace in Scotland, a daughter is born to James V, the dying king of Scotland. Named Mary, she was the only surviving child of her father and ascended to the Scottish throne when the king died just six days after her birth.
* On Dec. 2, 1777, legend has it that Philadelphia housewife and nurse Lydia Darragh single-handedly saves the lives of Gen. George Washington and his Continental Army. She made notes when she overheard the British planning a surprise attack and got them to Washington.
* On Dec. 6, 1921, The Irish Free State, comprising four-fifths of Ireland, is declared, ending a five-year Irish struggle for independence from Britain. The Irish Free State was renamed Eire, and is now called the Republic of Ireland.
* On Dec. 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, bringing an end to the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition did little more than slow the flow of booze, and bootleggers like Al Capone built criminal empires out of illegal distribution.
* On Dec. 4, 1945, the U.S. Senate approves U.S. participation in the United Nations. The U.N. allowed world leaders to observe each other as never before, as in the 1961 incident when Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev presented a spectacle by pounding his table with his shoe for emphasis during a U.N. debate.
* On Dec. 3, 1979, the last Pacer rolls off the assembly line at the American Motors Corp. (AMC) factory. In 1975, the ads said, “When you buy any other car, all you end up with is today’s car. When you get a Pacer, you get a piece of tomorrow.” Today polls and experts agree: The Pacer was one of the worst cars of all time.
* On Dec. 7, 1982, the first execution by lethal injection takes place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Charles Brooks, Jr., convicted of murdering an auto mechanic, received an intravenous injection of sodium pentothal, the barbiturate that is known as a “truth serum” when administered in lesser doses.