• On Dec. 28, 1793, British born American revolutionary Thomas Paine, author of “Common Sense,” is arrested in France for treason, having been tried in absentia and convicted. Paine was imprisoned in a former palace, where he had a large room with windows and catered meals.
• On Dec. 24, 1851, a fire sweeps through the Library of Congress and destroys two-thirds of Thomas Jefferson’s personal literary collection. Jefferson had sold his personal library of 6,487 books to Congress after the British burned the Congressional library in 1814.
• On Dec. 27, 1900, prohibitionist Carry Nation smashes up a bar in Wichita, Kansas, causing extensive damage and landing in jail. Nation became famous for carrying a hatchet and wrecking saloons, and sold souvenir hatchets to help fund her anti-alcohol activities.
• On Dec. 29, 1915, the French National Assembly passes a law formally ceding the land that holds the British war cemeteries to Great Britain, ensuring that its saddest and most sacred monuments would be forever protected.
• On Dec. 26, 1946, infamous gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel opens his Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. The grand opening was a flop, however, and the casino lost $300,000 in the first week. The hotel was named after Siegel’s girlfriend, whose nickname was “The Flamingo” because of her red hair and long legs.
• On Dec. 25, 1962, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a film based on the novel by Harper Lee, opens in theaters. The Great Depression-era story of racial injustice and the loss of childhood innocence is told from the perspective of a young Alabama girl named Scout Finch.
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