• On Dec. 13, 1621, under the care of Robert Cushman, the first American furs to be exported from the continent leave for England aboard the Fortune. During the crossing, the Fortune was captured by the French, and its valuable cargo of furs was taken. Cushman was detained on the Ile d’Dieu before being returned to England.
• On Dec. 14, 1799, George Washington, the first U.S. president, dies at age 67. Two days earlier, he rode out into a freezing sleet to survey business affairs on his estate. He returned home late for a dinner engagement and refused to take the time to change out of his wet clothes. The next day, Washington developed a severe respiratory infection and died the following day. His last words were “’Tis well.”
• On Dec. 16, 1811, the greatest series of earthquakes in U. S. history begins in the Mississippi River Valley near New Madrid, Mo., when a quake of an estimated 8.6 magnitude slams the region. The earthquake raised and lowered parts of the Mississippi Valley by as much as 15 feet and changed the course of the Mississippi River.
• On Dec. 10, 1915, the one-millionth Ford car rolls off the assembly line at the River Rouge plant in Detroit. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford sold more than 15 million Model Ts in all; they initially cost $850 (about $20,000 in today’s dollars).
• On Dec. 11, 1946, the United Nations votes to establish the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to provide relief and support to children. Only two countries have failed to ratify the treaty — Somalia and the United States.
• On Dec. 15, 1973, Sandy Hawley becomes the first jockey to win 500 races in a single year. Hawley achieved his historic win aboard Charlie Jr., in the third race at Maryland’s Laurel Park race track.
• On Dec. 12, 1989, hotel magnate Leona Helmsley receives a four-year prison sentence, 750 hours of community service and a $7.1 million tax fraud fine in New York. Helmsley became the object of loathing and disgust when she quipped that “only the little people pay taxes.”
(c) 2012 King Features Synd.