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This Day In History: Dec. 31

This Day in History

1600: The English East India Company is granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I.
1879: Thomas Edison publicly demonstrates his electric incandescent light for the first time, in Menlo Park, NJ.
1961: The Marshall Plan, a U.S. aid program for post-World War II Europe, ends after distributing foreign aid worth some $12 billion.
1974: For the first time in more than 40 years, private citizens in the United States are allowed to buy and own gold.
1984: The United States leaves UNESCO.
1999: Boris Yeltsin officially resigns as Russia's president, handing over power to Vladimir Putin as acting president.
The U.S. surrenders control over the Panama Canal to Panama, in accordance with a treaty signed in 1977. The zone surrounding the canal had already been handed back in 1979.:

Today's Birthdays

1720: Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), claimant to the British throne (Rome, Italy; died 1788)
1738: Charles Cornwallis, British general and statesman (London, England; died 1805)
1869: Henri Matisse, painter (Le Cateau, Picardy, France; died 1954)
1880: George Marshall, general/secretary of state and developer of the Marshall Plan (Uniontown, PA; died 1959)
1884: Stanley Forman Reed, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (Mason Co., KY; died 1980)
1894: Pola Negri, actress (Poland; died 1987)
1905: Jule Styne, songwriter (London, England; died 1994)
1908: Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi Hunter (Buchach, Ukraine; died 2005)
1930: Odetta, singer/musician (Birmingham, AL)
1937: Anthony Hopkins, actor (Port Talbot, South Wales)
1941: Sarah Miles, actress (Ingatestone, England)
1943: John Denver, singer/songwriter (Roswell, NM; died 1997). Ben Kingsley, actor (Yorkshire, England)
1946: Patti Smith, singer (Chicago, IL)
1947: Tim Matheson, actor (Glendale, CA)
1948: Donna Summer, singer (Boston, MA)
1958: Bebe Neuwirth, actress (Princeton, NJ)
1959: Val Kilmer, actor (Los Angeles, CA)

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