• On Dec. 29, 1170, Archbishop Thomas Becket is brutally murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of King Henry II of England, apparently on orders of the king. The Christian world was shocked, and in 1173 Becket was canonized a Catholic saint.
• On Dec. 26, 1606, William Shakespeare’s play “King Lear” is performed at the court of King James I of England. Lear was one of Shakespeare’s later works.
• On Dec. 30, 1853, the U.S. minister to Mexico and the president of Mexico sign the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. The treaty established the final boundaries of the southern United States. For $10 million, the U.S. acquired 30,000 square miles of land in what is now New Mexico and Arizona.
• On Dec. 24, 1865, in Pulaski, Tennessee, a group of Confederate veterans convenes to form a secret society that they christen the “Ku Klux Klan.” The KKK rapidly grew from a secret social fraternity to a paramilitary force bent on reversing the federal government’s progressive reconstruction activities.
• On Dec. 27, 1927, Agnes Nixon, the creator of the long-running television soap operas “One Life to Live” and “All My Children,” is born in Chicago. Nixon is credited with introducing social issues into soaps.
• On Dec. 25, 1941, “White Christmas,” written by composer and lyricist Irving Berlin, receives its world premiere on Bing Crosby’s weekly NBC radio program, “The Kraft Music Hall.” It went on to become one of the most commercially successful singles of all time.
• On Dec. 28, 1975, ice hockey fans watch the Central Red Army team from the Soviet Union defeat the New York Rangers 7-3 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. It marked the start of the first midseason exhibition games between Soviet and National Hockey League teams, held from 1975 to 1991.
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