December 1909

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December 31, 1909: Manhattan Bridge opens
December 17, 1909: Belgium's King Leopold II dies
December 31, 1909: Kinemacolor film first shown in theater

The following events occurred in December 1909:

December 1, 1909 (Wednesday)[edit]

December 2, 1909 (Thursday)[edit]

Union of South Africa flag used until 1928

December 3, 1909 (Friday)[edit]

The Ellan Varnon sank as it sailed from Ramsey in the Isle of Mann to Liverpool, with the loss of all hands and passengers

December 4, 1909 (Saturday)[edit]

December 5, 1909 (Sunday)[edit]

December 6, 1909 (Monday)[edit]

December 7, 1909 (Tuesday)[edit]

December 8, 1909 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Colonel Sergey Karpov, director of Russia's secret police, the Okhrana, was assassinated in the Russian capital of St. Petersburg. Aleksandr Petrov, a Bolshevik who had infiltrated the Okhrana, planted the bomb that killed the security chief.[22]
  • Born: Franz Six, Nazi administrator, in Mannheim (d. 1975)

December 9, 1909 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The British General Post Office announced the first cable money transfer agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States, to take effect on January 1, 1910. Under the new service, money could be wired between British post offices and Western Union telegraph stations in the United States, with orders transmitted via transatlantic cable.[23]
  • Born: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., American film actor, in New York City (d. 2000)

December 10, 1909 (Friday)[edit]

December 11, 1909 (Saturday)[edit]

December 12, 1909 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The only persons known to have escaped the sinking of the Bessemer and Marquette ferry were found in a lifeboat on Lake Erie, frozen to death.[28]
  • Born: Karen Morley, blacklisted American actress; as Mildred Linton in Ottumwa, Iowa (d. 2003)

December 13, 1909 (Monday)[edit]

  • On his deathbed, King Leopold II of Belgium married Caroline Lacroix, his mistress and the mother of his two sons, Lucien and Philippe.[29] The King died four days later and was succeeded by his brother. The marriage, performed as a religious ceremony but not a civil ceremony, was not recognized under Belgian law, and Lucien was ineligible to succeed to the throne.[30] Lucien Durieux lived until November 15, 1984.[31]
  • Died: George Salting, 74, British millionaire and art collector

December 14, 1909 (Tuesday)[edit]

December 15, 1909 (Wednesday)[edit]

December 16, 1909 (Thursday)[edit]

  • José Santos Zelaya resigned as President of Nicaragua as American warships approached that nation's coasts. In a message to the Congress, Zelaya wrote that he resigned in hopes of "the re-establishment of peace, particularly the suspension of the hostility of the United States". Zelaya was succeeded by José Madriz, who later resigned under American pressure.[40]
  • The village of Duson, Louisiana, was incorporated.

December 17, 1909 (Friday)[edit]

Albert I

December 18, 1909 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Albert Kimmerling became the first pilot in South Africa. "1910 to 1920 - Early Flying in South Africa"
  • U.S. Secretary of State Philander C. Knox sent a diplomatic note to his counterpart in Japan, challenging the expansion of both Empires into China. As part of President Taft's policy of "Dollar Diplomacy" Knox proposed to Japan's Foreign Minister, Komura Jutarō, that foreign-built railways in Manchuria be made neutral to promote economic development. After a January 6 press statement by Knox described the U.S., Britain, Germany and France as "the four great capitalist nations" setting an example for China, Japan and Russia rejected the proposal and agreed to divide their spheres of influence. Historian A. Whitney Griswold later wrote that in trying to advance the Open Door Policy, Knox had "nailed that door closed with himself on the outside".[43]

December 19, 1909 (Sunday)[edit]

Borussia Dortmund logo.svg
  • Borussia Dortmund, Germany's most popular soccer football club, was founded. The team won six national championships, including the 2002 Bundesliga, and has the largest attendance in Germany.[44]

December 20, 1909 (Monday)[edit]

December 21, 1909 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • A special consistory at the University of Copenhagen reached its findings concerning Dr. Frederick A. Cook. "The documents handed the University for examination," a statement held, "do not contain observations and information which can be regarded as proof that Dr. Cook reached the North Pole on his recent expedition." Robert Peary, who had telegraphed his discovery on September 6, only to find that Cook claimed five days earlier to have been first to the Pole, sent a telegram saying "Congratulations to The New York Times for its steady, insistent, victorious stand for the truth."[47]
  • General Electric began marketing of the Mazda name, setting minimum standards for manufacturers of light bulbs with a longer-lasting tungsten filament, and electric lamps, making the light bulb more popular. The trademark, now associated with the automobile, was discontinued by GE in 1945.[48]
  • The Kansas City Zoo opened at Swope Park.[49]
  • Born:

December 22, 1909 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Thousands of people in Worcester, Massachusetts and neighboring towns witnessed a mysterious airship that hovered over the city and shone a searchlight.[50] The sighting followed claims by inventor Wallace Tillinghast that he had invented an airplane that could fly 120 miles per hour.[51]
  • Born:
  • Died: Jimmy Sebring, American major league baseball player who hit the first home run in the first World Series, died of kidney failure four months after his last major league game.

December 23, 1909 (Thursday)[edit]

December 24, 1909 (Friday)[edit]

  • The federal court in Boston ruled in the case In re Halladjian (174 F. 834) that Armenians were of the White race, and thus eligible to become naturalized citizens. Earlier, Jacob Halladjian and three other people were denied citizenship on grounds that they were "Asiatics".[54]
  • Toyohiko Kagawa established the Kyureidan, a Christian mission and social welfare organization, in Kobe, Japan. In 1914, the organization was renamed the Jesus Band, which celebrated its centennial in 2009.[55]

December 25, 1909 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Engineer Cândido Rondon and his remaining 14 men completed a six-month, 900 mile expedition into the Amazon jungles of the interior of Brazil, arriving at the town of Primor, where they were finally able to get resupplied, four months after running out of food. Rondon, who returned to a hero's welcome in Rio de Janeiro, succeeded in extending telegraph wires to form a communications network across Brazil.[56]
  • After an absence of more than a year, the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso returned to Lhasa. The ruler of Tibet had journeyed to Beijing in 1908 to meet with the Manchu Emperor, but refused to kowtow to him, and fled at the beginning of 1909, arriving home ahead of the Chinese army. The first soldiers arrived on February 12, 1910, and the Dalai Lama fled again.[57]
  • Born:

December 26, 1909 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Died: American painter, sculptor and author Frederic Remington died at the age of 48, six days after becoming ill with appendicitis at a New York exhibition of his paintings. By the time he underwent surgery on December 23, his appendix had burst and peritonitis had set in.[58]

December 27, 1909 (Monday)[edit]

  • Five days after the sudden death of Mississippi's U.S. Senator Anselm J. McLaurin, Governor Noel appointed James Gordon, a 76-year-old former colonel in the Confederate Army, had admitted to having met with John Wilkes Booth in Montreal shortly before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.[59] At one time, a $10,000 reward had been offered by the United States government for his capture, dead or alive, though it was later concluded that he had not been a conspirator.[60]

December 28, 1909 (Tuesday)[edit]

December 29, 1909 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Ah Hoon, well known in New York as a Chinese American comedian, became a casualty of the tong wars. The Hip Sing gang had delivered a message to him, announcing "the exact hour and the minute he would die", because of insults to them in Hoon's comic routine. Although many sources list December 30 as the evening of Ah Hoon's last performance and murder, his body was discovered in the early morning hours of the 30th.[64]

December 30, 1909 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs decreed that baptism ceremonies could not be performed outdoors (such as in a lake or river) without a permit, because they qualified as a "religious procession".[65]
  • Born: Milton Rogovin, photographer, in New York City (d. 2011)

December 31, 1909 (Friday)[edit]

  • At 2:00 pm, the 6,855-foot-long (2,089 m) Manhattan Bridge was opened to traffic, after eight years and 26 million dollars had been spent on its construction. New York City Mayor George Brinton McClellan, Jr., who was on the last day of his term of office, rode in the first automobile of a motorcade from Manhattan to Brooklyn.[66]
  • Pope Pius X issued the decree Quinquennial Visit Ad Limina, requiring all Roman Catholic bishops to issue a quinquennial (every five years) report to the Vatican on the state of their diocese, starting in 1911.[67]


  1. ^ "Taft Breaks With Zelaya", New York Times, December 2, 1909, p1
  2. ^ Miranda Vickers, The Albanians: A Modern History (I.B. Tauris, 1999), p60
  3. ^ Joseph Nathan Kane, Famous First Facts, 4th Ed., (Ace Books, 1974) p93
  4. ^ The Annual Register: A Review of Public Events at Home and Abroad for the Year 1909 (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1910), p405
  5. ^ John Chi-Kit Wong, Lords of the Rinks: The Emergence of the National Hockey League, 1875–1936 (University of Toronto Press, 2005), p51
  6. ^ "Sonnino to Form Cabinet", New York Times, December 6, 1909, p1
  7. ^ Early Aviators
  8. ^ David Powell, British Politics, 1910–1935 (Routledge, 2004), p34
  9. ^ Montreal Canadiens website
  10. ^ CFL history website
  11. ^ Amsterdam News website
  12. ^ Anthony Slide, American Racist: The Life and Films of Thomas Dixon (University Press of Kentucky, 2004), p65;
  13. ^ American Cyanamid Company History
  14. ^ "King Works As Stevedore", New York Times, December 6, 1909, p1
  15. ^ Hargrave: The Pioneers, by Russell Naughton
  16. ^ "Fatal Duel in Bolivia", New York Times, December 7, 1909, p1; Adolfo Trigo Acha in William B. Parker, Bolivians of To-day (Hispanic Society of America, 1922), pp295–296
  17. ^ "Brief Information about SSU"
  18. ^ Table of Fatalities in Henry Villard, Contact! The Story of the Early Aviators (Courier Dover Publications, 2002) pp242–243
  19. ^ Jeffrey L. Meikle, American Plastic: A Cultural History (Rutgers University Press, 1995) pp46, 321
  20. ^ Mark Bourrie, Many a Midnight Ship: True Stories of Great Lakes Shipwrecks (University of Michigan Press, 2005), pp182–188;
  21. ^ "100th Anniversary of Coolidge as Mayor"; Claude M. Fuess, Calvin Coolidge: The Man From Vermont (1939) p104
  22. ^ Anna Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill: Revolutionary Terrorism in Russia, 1894–1917 (Princeton University Press, 1995), p236
  23. ^ "To Send Money By Cable", New York Times, December 10, 1909, p4
  24. ^ "History of UQ",
  25. ^ "Adana Moslems Executed", New York Times, December 12, 1909, p1
  26. ^ "History of the Ottawa Renegades",
  27. ^ "Kinemacolor in America", The Bioscope; Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 1907–1915 (Maxwell Macmillan International, 1990), pp228–229
  28. ^ "Nine Dead of Cold in Yawl on Lake", New York Times, December 13, 1909, p1
  29. ^ Michael Nelson, Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera (Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2001), p102
  30. ^ "Bar Leopold's Sons From the Throne", New York Times, December 17, 1909, p1
  31. ^ Behgnam Monarchies website
  32. ^ Marcel M.E.M. Rutten, "Partnerships in Community-based Ecotourism Projects: Experiences from the Maasai Region, Kenya", p6
  33. ^ Documenting a Democracy: Australia's Story Archived 2009-01-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ Jack El-Hai, Lost Minnesota: Stories of Vanished Places (University of Minnesota Press, 2000) p48
  35. ^ "About Radisson"
  36. ^ "Nations Hail Peary As Pole Discoverer", New York Times, December 16, 1909, p1
  37. ^ Ann McClellan, The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration (Bunker Hill Publishing, 2005), p32
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Defining the Mission of Virginia Cooperative Extension", by John E. Dooley, pp20–21
  40. ^ Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (Times Books, 2006), pp68; American Nicaraguan School website "Zelaya Resigns, Denouncing Us", New York Times, December 17, 1909, p1
  41. ^ "King Leopold Dies in Sudden Collapse" New York Times, December 17, 1909, p1
  42. ^ "Speed Defies Cold In Race For Marks", Indianapolis Star, December 19, 1909, p1
  43. ^ Walter LaFeber, The Clash: U.S.-Japanese Relations Throughout History (W.W. Norton, 1998), pp95–96; quoting A. Whitney Griswold, The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (1938)
  44. ^ (German); (English)
  45. ^ Navy Department Library
  46. ^ Kevin Rockett, Luke Gibbons and John Hill, Cinema and Ireland (Croom Helm, 1987), pp 5–6
  47. ^ "Cook's Claim to Discovery of the North Pole Rejected"; "University Finds That Cook's Papers Contain No Proof That He Reached the North Pole"; "Peary Sends Congratulations to the Times", New York Times, December 22, 1909, p1
  48. ^ "Four decades of Mazda incandescent lamps" by Carl Sulzberger
  49. ^ Jackson County Historical Society
  50. ^ "Airship Flies High Above Worcester", New York Times, December 23, 1909, p1; "'Aero' Seen Again at Night", Washington Post, December 23, 1909, p1
  51. ^ "The Airship Wave of 1909", by Dr. David Clarke], although Tillinghast was never able to show that he had such a vehicle. "1909: Christmas Shoppers Watch a UFO Fly Over Boston",
  52. ^ "Battleship Utah Launched", New York Times, December 24, 1909, p5
  53. ^ "History of USS Utah", National Park Service
  54. ^ "Citizenship For Armenians", New York Times, December 25, 1909, p3; "The Armenian Economist"
  55. ^
  56. ^ Todd A. Diacon, Stringing Together a Nation: Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon and the Construction of a Modern Brazil, 1906–1930 (Duke University Press, 2004), pp15–16
  57. ^ The World's Great Events: An Indexed History of the World From Earliest Times to the Present Day, (P.F. Collier, 1916), Vol. IX, pp2885–2886
  58. ^ "Remington, Painter and Author, Dead", New York Times, December 27, 1909, p1
  59. ^ William A. Tidwell, Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln (University Press of Mississippi, 1988), pp405–410
  60. ^ "New Senator Once Fugitive", New York Times, December 29, 1909, p1
  61. ^ South African Power Flying Association Archived 2009-03-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  62. ^ "Jersey Town Merger Fails"
  63. ^ Rashid Khalidi, The Origins of Arab Nationalism (Columbia University Press, 1991), p143
  64. ^ "New Tong Murder; Chinaman Killed", New York Times, December 30, 1909, p1; Herbert Asbury, The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld (1928, reprinted by Vintage Books, 2008), pp217–218
  65. ^ Heather J. Coleman, Russian Baptists and Spiritual Revolution, 1905–1929 (Indiana University Press, 2005), p71
  66. ^ "Manhattan Bridge Opened to Traffic", New York Times, January 1, 1910, p1; Wired New York
  67. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia