December 1900

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1900 : January · February · March · April · May · June · July · August · September · October · November · December
December 14, 1900: Max Planck presents the first paper on quantum mechanics, to the German Physical Society
December 19, 1900: Edmund Barton selected to become first Prime Minister of Australia

The following events occurred in December 1900.

December 1, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • A census of the German Empire was taken. Provisional figures showed a population of 56,345,014.[1]
  • The President of Switzerland resolved a boundary dispute between French Guiana and Brazil, awarding most of the 101,000-square-mile (260,000 km2) territory to Brazil.[2]
  • In Washington, the United States and Nicaragua signed a treaty, subject to approval, giving the U.S. exclusive rights to construct and operate the Nicaraguan Canal (never built), and to use the San Juan River and Lake Managua, in return for five million dollars.[3]

December 2, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • An oath of allegiance to the United States was taken by 2,200 Filipino rebels at Vigan, the largest group to do so to that time.[4]
  • John Hossack, a farmer near Indianola, Iowa, was killed with an ax while he slept in bed. His wife Margaret was charged with the murder and convicted on April 11, 1901, but the verdict was overturned and a second trial ended with a hung jury. Susan Glaspell, who covered the case for the Des Moines Daily News, later fictionalized it in her 1916 one-act play Trifles and a 1917 short story, "A Jury of Her Peers".[5]

December 3, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

  • The U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in Cheasapeake and Ohio Railroad Company v. Kentucky. By an 8–1 margin, the Court upheld a state law requiring racial segregation even on interstate transportation. Since Kentucky's law provided that non-white passengers had to move to cars separate from white passengers after a train entered the state, the ruling effectively made separate cars a requirement on all trains.[6]
  • The census was taken in Norway, at that time a part of a union with Sweden. Its population in 1900 was 2,221,477 [7]
  • Born: Ulrich Inderbinen, Swiss mountain guide (d. 2004); and Richard Kuhn, Austrian chemist, in Vienna; Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1938; (d. 1967)

December 4, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • General Auguste Mercier, formerly Minister of War for France, warned the French Senate about "the possibility of war with Great Britain" and his strategy for an invasion, adding that "a landing in England is not beyond realization". Mercier suggested that his invasion plan "could be held over the head of England, like the sword of Damocles".[8]
  • Born: John Axon, British railwayman, celebrated in song for his heroism in a fatal 1957 accident

December 5, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy signed a treaty providing that their navies would work together in the event of an attack on either nation by France or Russia.[9]
  • The Ashanti War of 1900 was declared over, with most of the British troops and Governror Willcocks departing Kumasi.[10]

December 6, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]

December 7, 1900 (Friday)[edit]

  • In the American war in the Philippines, rebel leader General Emilio Verdeflor was killed in battle after being surprised by troops led by Major H.B. McCoy.[13]
  • The U.S. Navy Department invited bids for construction of new ships to double the size of the American Navy, calling for five battleships and six armored cruisers.[14]
  • Nikola Tesla claimed to have received intelligent communication from Mars.[15]

December 8, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Pope Leo XIII issued Conditae a Christo, redefining the rights of Catholic nuns.[16]
  • The U.S. called off scheduled plans to send a warship to Morocco to force the sultanate to pay its debts. "The great annual religious festival of the Moors is about to begin", reported the New York Times, referring to Ramadan, adding "it is the height of impropriety for any truly orthodox person to conduct business. The Sultan could not, without risking his soul, pay any debts, or even receive an infidel who came on diplomatic business." The State Department called off the operation until the middle of February.[17]
  • Died: James Roosevelt, Sr., 72. His son, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was an 18 year old student at Harvard University at the time.[18]

December 9, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Claude Debussy's first two Nocturnes, "Nuages" and "Fêtes", had their world premiere, performed by the Lamoureux Orchestra as conducted by Camille Chevillard in Paris.[19]

December 10, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

  • Carl Jung passed up a career in internal medicine to take up psychiatry, starting a position at the Burgholzli Mental Hospital, as an assistant to Eugen Bleuler.[20]

December 11, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

December 12, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

December 13, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Albert Einstein published his first article in an academic journal, "Folgerungen aus der Kapillaritatserscheinungen" ("Deductions from the Phenomena of Capillarity"), in Annalen der Physik.[24]
  • Terry McGovern became undisputed light weight boxing champion of the world in a bout in Chicago against Joe Gans, knocking him out in the seconc round, in a fight that many observers thought was fixed.[25]
  • Britain, France and Italy signed an agreement to preserve, in Ethiopia, the integrity of the ancient empire of Abyssinia.[26]

December 14, 1900 (Friday)[edit]

  • On a date now considered to be the birthday of quantum mechanics, Max Planck presented his paper Zur Theorie des Gesetzes der Energieverteilung im Normalspektrum (On the Theory of the Law of Energy Distribution in Normal Spectrum) at a meeting of the German Physical Society in Berlin.[27]
  • The Hague Convention of 1883 was revised in Brussels.[28]

December 15, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Soon after Lord Roberts declared that the Boer War was over, British troops in South Africa suffered a surprise defeat and the capture of hundreds of their men by the Boer defenders. A total of 573 men in four companies of the Northumberland Fusiliers were taken prisoner at the battle of Magaliesberg.[29] At Zastron on December 13, 120 British soldiers had been were captured by the Boers [30]
  • In one of the earliest "bad trades" in baseball, the Reds sent rookie pitcher Christy Mathewson to the Giants in return for legendary pitcher Amos Rusie. Both were future Hall of Fame stars, one rising (Mathewson went on to win 373 games) and the other falling (Rusie pitched only 22 innings for Cincinnati.[31]

December 16, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The German training frigate Gneisenau, with 450 naval cadets on board, sank in a storm during exercises off of the Spanish coast at Málaga, drowning 136.[32]
  • In Rome, the "Mediterranean Agreement" was signed by France and Italy, providing that if France extended influence in Morocco, it would not oppose Italian occupation of Cyrenaica and Tripoli (now Libya) [33]
  • George Bernard Shaw's play, Captain Brassbound's Conversion, premiered at the Strand, in London.[34]
  • Born: Rudolf Diels, German founder of the Gestapo, in Berghaus. Diels escaped prosecution after World War II, but died November 18, 1957, in a hunting accident

December 17, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

  • The Guzman Prize, first and only prize every offered for communication with extraterrestrials, was announced in Paris. A prize of 100,000 francs was provided, except for communication with Mars, which was considered too easy.[35]
  • Ellis Island's processing center reopened, after an 1897 fire. The Kaiser Wilhelm III brought 654 Italian immigrants, who were first of the 2,251 who come through on that day.[36]

December 18, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Fifteen year old Edward Cudahy, Jr., whose father was an official at the Cudahy Meatpacking Company was kidnapped by two men in front of his home at Omaha. Eddie was released on December 20 after his father paid $25,000 in gold.[37]
  • U.S. Ambassador to Britain Joseph Choate met for several hours in London with Foreign Secretary Lansdowne, over the two nations' sudden disagreement on China policy. It turned out that a misunderstanding had been created by an error in the transmission of a cabled telegram over the use of the word "irrevocable".[38]

December 19, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

December 20, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]

  • By a 55–18 vote, the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty with Britain regarding the Nicaragua Canal, but with three amendments, including an American defense of the canal. Britain refused to ratify the altered treaty by the March 5, 1901, expiration. Secretary of State Hay and British Ambassador Pauncefote signed a new treaty in 1901 that was ratified by both nations in 1902.[41]
  • General Arthur MacArthur declared martial law over the Philippines under General Order 100. Philippine civilians who supported the rebels or stayed neutral would be subject to arrest, along with exile and even the death penalty.[42]
  • Astronomer Michel Giacobini spotted the Giacobini-Zinner comet, which came back around on October 23, 1913, and was spotted by Ernst Zinner.[43]
  • Born: Marinus van der Goes van Naters, Dutch legislator 1937–1940 and 1945–67, and German prisoner of war, 1940–45 (d. 2005)

December 21, 1900 (Friday)[edit]

  • In Havana, John J. Moran volunteered to infect himself with yellow fever in order to confirm that the disease was spread by blood and not by air. At noon, Moran went into a room filled with infected mosquitoes and stayed for 30 minutes, getting bitten 7 times. Two other volunteers in the same room were protected by a mosquito-proof screen, breathed the same air, and stayed well. Moran became seriously ill, but survived and lived until 1950.[44]

December 22, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • In Peking (Beijing), at 11:00, the ministers of the Western nations and Japan signed the diplomatic note setting out conditions for China to accept.[45]

December 23, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Reginald Fessenden made the first use of amplitude modulation (the basis for AM radio) for wireless transmission of the human voice. Two towers, set a mile apart on Cobb Island in the Potomac River, were used for the experiment. Fessenden said "One, two, three, four. Is it snowing where you are, Mr. Thiessen? If it is, would telegraph back to me?" Alfred Thiessen telegraphed back that it was snowing.[46]
  • Footbinding was officially outlawed by decree of the Empress Dowager of China, after centuries of the practice of stunting the growth of girls' feet, and years of lobbying against it.[47]
  • With the encouragement of the American government, prominent Philippine citizens founded the Partido Federal, which advocated American statehood for the Philippine Islands.[48]

December 24, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

  • Pope Leo XIII conducted ceremonies to close the Holy Year, with the closing of the holy door in St. Peter's Basilica a year after it had been opened. The event was witnessed by 80,000 and not done again until 1925.[49]
  • Iskra, a newspaper published by Vladimir Lenin in support of Bolshevik rebellion in Russia, was published for the first time, printed in Leipzig, Germany.[50]
  • Secretary of War Elihu Root forever barred the hereditary right of slaughtering which had been granted a monopoly to the descendants of the Countess of Buena Vista.[51]
  • The foreign powers presented their 12 conditions for reform to the Chinese Imperial government. In return for allowing the Emperor to come back to Beijing, China, was to reduce its military, punish Boxer rebels, and pay $500,000,000 to the eight nations over a period of 60 years.[52]
  • After 45 years, the last horse-drawn street car was retired from service in Boston, to be replaced by electric trolleys and elevated trains.[53]
  • Born: Hawayo Takata, last of the Reiki Masters, in Kauai, Hawaii (d. 1980)

December 25, 1900 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The National Basket Ball League was the first professional basketball circuit in America, founded in 1898. In an NBBL game on Christmas night in Trenton, New Jersey, referee L.P. Pratt was attacked by an angry mob of Trenton Nationals fans, upset when he declared a forfeit in a game against the visiting Penn Bikers of Philadelphia. The Bikers were leading 23–11 at the half. Trenton's Harry Stout called Pratt a "stiff" and a "lobster" and was ejected from the game, then came out during the second half. Pratt declared a 4–0 forfeit in favor of Penn and, according to the Trenton paper, the mob was chanting "Kill him!". Three city policemen escorting Pratt were also injured.[54] The Nationals, defending NBBL champs, went on to finish second to the New York Wanderers in the 1900–01 season.[55]
  • Born: Antoni Zygmund, Polish mathematician, author of Trigonometric Series in Warsaw (d.1992)

December 26, 1900 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • A strange disappearance in the Flannan Isles of Scotland was realized when the lighthouse supply ship Hesperus stopped at the Scottish island of Eilean Mòr. The three men in charge of keeping the lighthouse at this remote location had vanished without explanation. The last entry in the logbook had been for December 15, and there was no sign of a crime, but the three men were not found after a search of the island. An official investigation concluded later that the three were probably washed off of a precipice by a high wave.[56] The mystery was later the subject of a 1980 chamber opera by Peter Maxwell Davies, The Lighthouse.

December 27, 1900 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Carrie Nation destroyed the elaborate bar at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, Kansas, including a crystal chandelier, the Venetian mirror behind the bar, and a large and provocative painting, Cleopatra at the Bath.[57]
  • Amnesty took effect for all persons connected with the Dreyfus affair.[58]

December 28, 1900 (Friday)[edit]

  • Morning newspapers across America ran the horrifying news that forty-nine school children had drowned the night before while ice skating near What Cheer, Iowa,[59] though many emphasized that it was unconfirmed.[60] By afternoon, the story was confirmed to have been a macabre practical joke.[61]
  • Mathematician Luther P. Eisenhart presented the first demonstration of the impossibility of a triply asymptotic system of surfaces, at a meeting of the American Mathematical Society.[62]
  • The first steel produced by electrometallurgy (from an electric furnace) was delivered, 9,000 kg of bars from the Heroult Company to Schneider & Co.[63]

December 29, 1900 (Saturday)[edit]

  • In a milestone for medical ethics, a regulation from the Prussian Ministry for Religious, Educational, and Medical Affairs was the first known law requiring that medical experiments be done only with "informed consent" of a patient.[64]

December 30, 1900 (Sunday)[edit]

  • In the last Sunday of the century, the New York Herald published Mark Twain's "A Greeting from the 19th Century to the 20th Century", while the New York World published the article "New York as It Will Be in 1999".

December 31, 1900 (Monday)[edit]

  • At 3:00 in the afternoon in Beijing, Su-Hai, identified as the man who had killed Baron von Ketteler, Germany's minister to China, on June 20, became the last prominent person to die in the 19th Century. Su-Hai was beheaded at the scene of the crime.[65]
  • Christian churches around the world welcomed in the new century with special services beginning an hour before midnight, and the ringing of bells.[66]
  • In New York, crowds gathered at City Hall Park in view of the big clock at City Hall. John Philip Sousa's band began playing at 10:45 pm, and at 11:59, the city was darkened for a minute, before the 20th Century was welcomed in with fireworks.[67]


  1. ^ The American Monthly Review of Reviews (July 1901) p90; "Geographic Notes" National Geographic (July 1901), p123
  2. ^ E. Bradford Burns, A History of Brazil (Columbia University Press, 1993) pp276–77
  3. ^ "Treaty With Nicaragua", New York Times, December 2, 1900, p1
  4. ^ "Filipinos Take the Oath", New York Times, December 4, 1900, p1
  5. ^ Susan Glaspell: Essays on Her Theater and Fiction By Linda Ben-Zvi (University of Michigan Press, 2002), pp 22–32
  6. ^ George C. Wright, Life Behind A Veil: Blacks In Louisville, Kentucky, 1865–1930 (LSU Press, 1985), pp63–65
  7. ^ Massachusetts Labor Bulletin (February 1901), p35
  8. ^ "Invasion of England Easy", New York Times, December 5, 1900, p1
  9. ^ The Secret Treaties of Austria-Hungary, 1879–1914 Translated by Denys Peter Myers, John Gilman D'Arcy Paul p115
  10. ^ "Ashanti War (1900)", The Victorians at War, 1815–1914: An Encyclopedia of British Military History (ABC-CLIO, 2004), pp32–33
  11. ^ Gdal Saleski, Famous Musicians of a Wandering Race (Kessinger Publishing, 2006), p315
  12. ^ Myron Timothy Herrick, Rural Credits, Land and Cooperative (D. Appleton and Company, 1914), pp445
  13. ^ Resil B. Mojares, The War Against the Americans: Resistance and Collaboration in Cebu, 1899–1906 (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1999), p64
  14. ^ Craig L. Symonds, Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History (Oxford University Press US, 2005), p193
  15. ^ W. Gordon Allen, Enigma Fantastique (Health Research Books, 1996), p23
  16. ^ Ethelred Luke Taunton, The Law of the Church: A Cyclopedia of Canon Law for English-speaking Countries (K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1906), p455
  17. ^ "Demand on Morocco Delayed", New York Times, December 9, 1900, p1
  18. ^ Janice Pottker, Sara and Eleanor: The Story of Sara Delano Roosevelt and her Daughter-in-law, Eleanor Roosevelt (Macmillan, 2004), p88
  19. ^ Richard Langham Smith, Debussy: Studies (Cambridge University Press, 1997) p168
  20. ^ Michael F. Palmer, Freud and Jung on Religion (Routledge, 1997), pp88–89
  21. ^ Sir Harry Johnston, Liberia (Huthinson & Co., 1906), pp298–99, 378
  22. ^ Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance (Grove Press, 1990), pp83–84
  23. ^ Annual Reports of the War Department, 1901, pt. 5, pp3693–94
  24. ^ Ronald William Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (HarperCollins, 1984), p66
  25. ^ Elliott J. Gorn, Sports in Chicago (University of Illinois Press, 2008) p45
  26. ^ The New Century Book of Facts: A Handbook of Ready Reference (The King-Richardson company, 1910), p250
  27. ^ Jagdish Mehra and Helmut Rechenberg, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory: The Quantum Theory of Planck, Einstein, Bohr, and Sommerfeld: Its Foundation and the Rise of Its Difficulties 1900–1925 (Springer, 2000), pp50–53
  28. ^ Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements (Taylor & Francis, 2003), p994
  29. ^ "British Lost Hundreds", New York Times, December 16, 1900, p1
  30. ^ "More British Captured", New York Times, December 16, 1900, p1
  31. ^ Dan Schlossberg, "Trading Players Still A Risky Venture In Majors", Baseball Digest (May 1991), pp63–64
  32. ^ "The Loss of the Gneisenau", New York Times, December 18, 1900, p1
  33. ^ Dennis E. Showalter, Tannenberg: Clash of Empires (1914, reprinted by Brassey's, 2004) p50
  34. ^ Judith Evans, The Politics and Plays of Bernard Shaw (McFarland, 2002) pp44–45
  35. ^ David Getz, Life on Mars (Macmillan, 2004) p9
  36. ^ John T. Cunningham, Ellis Island: Immigration's Shining Center (Arcadia Publishing, 2003) p64
  37. ^ The Great Pictorial History of World Crime, Jay Robert Nash, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), p629
  38. ^ "China Negotiations Seem Tangled Up; Cable Error in Official Dispatch Made the Muddle Worse", New York Times, December 19, 1900, p1
  39. ^ Brian Carroll, Australia's Prime Ministers: From Barton to Howard (Rosenberg Publishing, Ltd., 2004), pp23–24
  40. ^ Norman Polmar, Submarines of the Russian and Soviet Navies, 1718–1990 (Naval Institute Press, 1991), p10
  41. ^ "Canal Treaty is Ratified", New York Times, December 21, 1900, p1; Marion Mills Miller, Great Debates in American History: Foreign Relations (Current Literature Pub. Co., 1913), pp382–383
  42. ^ Boot, Max. The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 046500721X. LCCN 2004-695066. 
  43. ^ Paolo Ulivi and David Harland, Robotic Exploration of the Solar System: Part II: Hiatus and Renewal, 1983–1996 (Springer, 2009), p61
  44. ^ Charles De Paolo, Epidemic Disease and Human Understanding: A Historical Analysis of Scientific and Other Writings (McFarland, 2006), pp223–225
  45. ^ "China Joint Note Signed", New York Times, December 23, 1900, p1
  46. ^ Vaclav Smil, Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867–1914 and Their Lasting Impact (Oxford University Press US, 2005), p254
  47. ^ Kazuko Ono and Joshua A. Fogel, Chinese Women in a Century of Revolution, 1850–1950 (Stanford University Press, 1989J), p33
  48. ^ Boot, op cit., p115
  49. ^ "Affairs in Europe", The Cyclopedic Review of Current History (March 1901), p62
  50. ^ Leonard Bertram Schapiro, The Government and Politics of the Soviet Union (Taylor & Francis, 1977), p22
  51. ^ Official Journal, Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America, January 1906,
  52. ^ William F. Nimmo, Stars and Stripes Across the Pacific: the United States, Japan, and the Asia/Pacific Region, 1895–1945 (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001); "China's Emperor Agrees to Terms", New York Times, December 15, 1900, p1
  53. ^ Anthony Mitchell Sammarco, Boston's Back Bay in the Victorian Era (Arcadia Publishing, 2004), p117
  54. ^ "Mob Nearly Kills a Referee", New York Times, December 26, 1900, p1; "Trenton-Pennsylvania Bicycle Club Contest Ended in a Riot", Trenton Times, December 26, 1900, p2
  55. ^ APBR website
  56. ^ Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe, Unsolved Mysteries of the Sea, (Dundurn Press Ltd., 2004) pp70–74
  57. ^ Fran Grace, Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life (Indiana University Press, 2001), pp150–55
  58. ^ Michael Burns, France and the Dreyfus Affair: A Documentary History (Macmillan, 1999), p164
  59. ^ "Forty-Nine Children Drowned", Fort Wayne Journal Gazette; The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), December 28, 1900, p1;
  60. ^ "Forty-Nine Children Perish?", New York Times, December 28, 1900, p1;
  61. ^ "Story Merely a Hoax", Oakland Tribune, December 28, 1900, p1
  62. ^ "Scientific Serials", Nature (February 28, 1901), p432
  63. ^ John A. Mathews, "The Electric Furnace in Steel Manufacture", by John A. Mathews, in Monthly Bulletin of the American Iron and Steel Institute (April 1916), p158
  64. ^ Sana Loue, Textbook of Research Ethics: Theory and Practice (Springer, 2000) p15
  65. ^ "His Head Is Off", Fort Wayne Sentinel, January 1, 1901, p1
  66. ^ "Catholic Churches Celebrate"; "Watch Night Services"; New York Times, January 1, 1901, p2
  67. ^ "Twentieth Century's Triumphant Entry", New York Times, January 1, 1901, p1