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This Day in History: Dec. 20

1606: Three ships set sail from London, England , en route to America, where colonists will establish the first European colony at what is now Jamestown, VA.
1803: The Louisiana Purchase is completed; under its terms, the United States doubles its area by taking title to more than 800,000 square miles of land previously owned by France, for a price tag of $15 million.
1860: South Carolina becomes the first state to vote to secede from the Union.
1985: A measure to create the post of poet laureate in the United States is signed into law by Pres. Ronald Reagan.
1989: U.S. troops invade Panama, overthrowing Gen. Manuel Noriega.
1999: Portugal returns Macau to Chinese control.
2001: Argentine Pres. Fernando De La Rua resigns amid protests over economic collapse in his country.
2002: Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott resigns in controversy over a remark taken as supporting Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential campaign; Sen. Bill Frist (R, TN) is elected to replace him.

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