December 1911

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December 14, 1911: Five men from Norway first to reach the South Pole
December 12, 1911: George VI of Great Britain and Ireland crowned at Delhi as Emperor of India

The following events occurred in December 1911:

December 1, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

  • At Urga (now Ulan Bator), a new Mongolian Empire was declared independent from the Chinese Empire. Chinese officials of the Qing dynasty were expelled from what had been "Outer Mongolia", and an setting up its own government on the 11th day of the First Winter Month of the year of the Pig. Unlike other provinces of China that would become part of the Republic of China, Mongolia remained a separate nation.[1]
  • James B. McNamara and John J. McNamara stunned Americans who had been following their trial for murder, when James pleaded guilty to the dynamiting of the Los Angeles Times building on October 1, 1910, and John, the secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, pleaded to having caused an explosion at the Llewellyn Iron Works.[2] Chief counsel Clarence Darrow explained the plea, saying, "From the first, there was never the slightest chance to win," adding, "There was overwhelming evidence of all kinds which no one could have surmounted if he would."[3] James was sentenced to life imprisonment and his brother John to 15 years.
  • The first International Opium Conference opened at the Hague. The United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Persia (Iran), Portugal, Russia, and Siam (Thailand), sent representatives, presided over by Bishop Charles H. Brent, Episcopal bishop for the Philippines.[4]
  • Born: Walter Alston, American baseball manager who guided the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Los Angeles Dodgers to four World Series championships, in Venice, Ohio (d. 1984)

December 2, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

December 3, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Maurice Prevost and a passenger reached an altitude of 9,800 feet over Courcy, France, breaking the record of 8,471 feet set the year before by Ralph Johnstone.[8]
  • The "General Plan for the Organization of the Provisional Government" was promulgated by China's Republican revolutionaries, proposing an American-style presidential system. On March 11, 1912, the Provisional Constitution would change to a cabinet system headed by a Prime Minister.[9]
  • Born: Nino Rota, Italian film score composer, in Milan (d. 1979)

December 4, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

  • A mosque was bombed in Istib, at the time a European possession of the Ottoman Empire, and now Štip in the Republic of Macedonia, killing 12 Muslim worshipers and wounding 20, and leading to the outbreak of rioting. The Turkish Army retaliated by attacking Bulgarian nationalists whom they blamed for the bombing, wounding 171, of whom 14 died.[10]
  • An antitrust suit was brought against the National Cash Register company, alleging conspiracy to restrain trade. NCR had 95% of cash register sales in the U.S.[11]
  • John D. Rockefeller resigned as President of the company that he had founded, the recently dismembered Standard Oil Company, and John D. Archibold succeeded him.[12]

December 5, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Voters in Los Angeles rejected the prospect of electing a Socialist government, four days after the surprise conviction of the McNamara brothers. Mayor George Alexander, whose re-election had been uncertain, defeated Job Harriman by a more than 2-1 margin, and voters rejected the entire slate of city councilmen and Board of Education members.[13]
  • The Aerial Experiment Association, headed by aviator Glenn Curtiss, was awarded U.S. Patent No. 1,011,106 for the aileron (which controls the rolling and turning of an aircraft) after being successful in litigation against the Wright Brothers.[14]
  • The town of Blackdom, New Mexico, an all-black community located in Chaves County, was incorporated. The town was abandoned in the 1920s.[15]
  • Joseph Stalin was sent into exile for the third and last time, being sent to Vologda for a five-year stretch.[16]
  • Born:

December 6, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Prince Chun, the regent for (and father of) the Emperor of China, resigned from office. He was succeeded by Prince Shi-Hsu, former National Assembly president, and Hsu Shi-Chang, VP of the Privy Council.[17]
  • Western Union introduced discount rates for its trans-Atlantic cable service between New York and London.[18]

December 7, 1911 (Thursday)[edit]

December 8, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

  • Thirteen years after the destruction of the USS Maine in the Havana Harbor, a committee of naval experts concluded that the blast was, as originally suspected, caused by an external explosion which had ignited munitions stored on board.[8]
  • The San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Henry Kimball Hadley, held its first concert.[21]
  • Born: Lee J. Cobb, American stage and film actor, in New York City as Leo Jacob (d. 1976)

December 9, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

December 10, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

December 11, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

December 12, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • At the Coronation Durbar in British India, King George V was formally proclaimed the Kaisar-i-Hind, King-Emperor of India, at Delhi, before an audience of 80,000. On the subcontinent, he had 315,000,000 subjects in the Indian Kingdom and Empire, which included modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.[27] (At the time, the population of the British Isles was 45,370,530).[28] The Emperor announced, without consultation of the British Parliament, that the capital of British India would be moved from Calcutta to a new city built near Delhi.[29] New Delhi was built on the site southwest of Shahjahanabaad, the capital of the Mughal Emperors from 1658 to 1739, and finally and inaugurated on February 13, 1931.[30]
  • A bill proposed by U.S. Representative Isaac Sherwood, to provide a pension of $15 to $30 a month to every American military veteran, passed the House, 229-92.[31]
  • Voters in the Arizona Territory elected to eliminate the provision in the proposed constitution for judicial recall, by a margin of 14,963 to 1,980 and cleared the last impediment for President Taft to sign the statehood bill. Arizona would become the 48th state in February.[32]
  • Born: Margo Jones, American stage director credited with launching "regional theater" in the United States; in Livingston, Texas (died by accidental poisoning, 1955)

December 13, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The House passed the Sulzer Resolution, asking for abrogation of the 1832 treaty with Russia due to its discrimination against American Jews, by a margin of 300-1. The lone dissent came from Congressman George R. Malby of New York.[33]
  • Five German nationals, convicted of espionage for Britain, were sentenced by a German court in Leipzig to prison terms ranging from 2 to 12 years. The maximum sentence was for a Herr Hipsich, an engineer at the Bremen shipyards, who sold plans for the new German dreadnoughts to the British.[34]
  • Born:

December 14, 1911 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The South Pole was reached by human beings for the first time, as the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition arrived at 3:00 in the afternoon. The weather was sunny, winds were slight, and the temperature only -10 °F.[35] Roald Amundsen, the leader of the expedition, was accompanied by Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting, and all five planted the Norwegian flag. They pitched a tent and remained for three days at their settlement, which they called Polheim, on the plateau that they named for King Haakon VII of Norway.[36]
  • At the same time, the British Antarctic Expedition, led by Robert Falcon Scott, was continuing its ascent of the Beardmore Glacier.[37] At 84°8', and unaware that Amundsen was at the South Pole, Scott wrote in his journal, ironically, "It is splendid to be getting along and to find some adequate return for the work we are putting into the business."[38]
  • Dr. Eleanor Davies-Colley became the first woman to be admitted as Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Britain.[8]
  • Born: Hans von Ohain, German engineer who patented the jet engine; in Dessau (d. 1998)

December 15, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

  • Anti-aircraft warfare was pioneered by Turkish troops in Libya, two weeks after Italy pioneered aerial bomardment.[39]
  • British suffragettes began a new tactic, destroying mailboxes in order to attract attention to their cause. Emily Wilding Davison saturated a piece of linen with paraffin, set it on fire, and placed it into a public mail drop. By July, the group began setting fire to unoccupied buildings.[40]
  • The North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911, signed by the U.S., U.K., Japan, and Russia on July 7, went into effect.[8]
  • Born: Stan Kenton, American bandleader, in Wichita, Kansas (d. 1979)

December 16, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

December 17, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Pope Pius X broke a centuries-old tradition of Pontiffs always partaking of their meals alone. Following the ceremony for the consecration of two new cardinals, the Pope invited everyone to breakfast.[46]

December 18, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

  • With the encouragement of Russia, leaders of the Tuvan minority declared the independence of their homeland, Tannu Tuva, from China. The mostly rural state on the Chinese-Russian border became a Russian protectorate in 1914 and was later annexed into the Soviet Union, and is now a part of the Russian Federation.[47]
  • Born: Jules Dassin, American film director who was blacklisted during the era of McCarthyism; in Middletown, Connecticut (d. 2008)

December 19, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • U.S. President William H. Taft asked Congress to rescind the commercial treaty that the U.S. had made with Russia more than 70 years prior. The termination was ratified unanimously (72-0) by the U.S. Senate, and the next day by the House with only one dissenting vote, from Robert B. Macon of Arkansas.[48]
  • Two thousand physicians met at Queen's Hall in London to protest against the limitations for payment under the Insurance Act.[8]

December 20, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The Agadir Crisis came to an end as the Chamber of Deputies of France approved the Moroccan agreement with Germany by a vote of 393-36, but 141 of the deputies abstained. The matter then moved on to the French Senate.[49]
  • Votes were counted in the New Zealand election, with Prime Minister Ward's party losing its majority in Parliament.[8]
  • Born: Hortense Calisher, American writer, in New York City (d. 2009)

December 21, 1911 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The Illinois Supreme Court became the first in the United States to uphold the admissibility of fingerprint evidence, affirming the murder conviction of Thomas Jennings. Jennings was hanged on February 16, 1912. By 1925, all state courts had followed the reasoning in People v. Jennings.[50]
  • The first armed robbery using a "getaway car" took place in Paris as four members of the Bonnot Gang used a stolen limousine to escape after robbing a courier who was bringing cash to the Société Générale Bank. Octave Garnier and Raymond Callemin stepped from the vehicle and confronted the courier and his bodyguard with pistols, shot him when he resisted, stole a case with money and hopped back in the car. Driver and gangleader Jules Bonnot then raced away.[51]
  • Russian troops arrived at the Persian city of Tabriz, and exacted vengeance on the civilian population after having battled Persian troops earlier. In taking control of government buildings, the Russians reportedly attacked schoolchildren and women. The next day, bombardment of the Northern Iranian city began, and on Saturday, the burning of mosques and other buildings began.[52]
  • Explorer Hiram Bingham returned to the United States and gave reporters their first interview concerning his expedition to Peru.[53]
  • Born: Josh Gibson, African-American baseball player who hit 800 home runs in his career, mostly for the Homestead Grays in the Negro Leagues; in Buena Vista, Georgia. He would be admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
  • Died: Emilio Estrada, 56, President of Ecuador since September

December 22, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

December 23, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Russian and Persian troops fought at Tabriz, and Russia sent reinforcements from Erivan.[8]
  • Born: James Gregory, American character actor, in the Bronx (d. 2002)

December 24, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Persia's regent, Nasir al-Mulk, and the cabinet members dissolved Parliament, placing Prime Minister Samsam al-Saltanah in control of the nation until new elections could be held. The voting did not take place until 1914, by which time Iran's government was dependent on approval of Britain and Russia.[56]
  • French pilot M. Gobe set a record by flying 462 miles without landing.[8]

December 25, 1911 (Monday)[edit]

  • Sun Yat-sen arrived in Shanghai, by way of the United States, the United Kingdom and France.[57]
  • The play Kismet premiered at the Knickerbocker Theatre in New York City. The controversial drama included a scene of simulated nude bathing, with the actress wearing a skin colored outfit.[58]
  • Born: Louise Bourgeois, French-American sculptor, in Paris (d. 2010)

December 26, 1911 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Shortly after midnight, the first of 75 men, staying in Berlin's municipal homeless shelter, began dying from poisoning. The evening before, smoked herring had been offered at Christmas dinner, in addition to soup and bread. By the end of the day, 18 were dead.[59] By Sunday, the deaths were traced to a wholesale liquor dealer who had been selling whiskey containing 2/3rds methyl alcohol, commonly used for antifreeze and as a solvent. The case was later referred to as the "Scharmach Catastrophe."[60]
  • Cotton textile workers across Mexico walked off the job, shutting down the entire industry. The companies' owners would agree to labor's demands on January 20, with a 10% increase in pay and reduction of work to ten hours a day. The pact "marked a permanent change in labour relations", one historian notes, with workers successfully organizing unions and striking without retaliation, something that "had never happened in Mexican history, a lesson that nobody forgot".[61]

December 27, 1911 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The melody that would become India's National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, was first performed, on the occasion of a meeting in Calcutta of the Indian National Congress. Composed by Rabindranath Tagore, the song originally had lyrics in the Bengali language. A Hindi-language version was adopted in 1950 as the Republic's anthem.[62]

December 28, 1911 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The first M1911 pistol, sidearm for the U.S. Army, was manufactured, part of a set of 40 made that day at the Colt firearms factory in Hartford. Serial numbers 1 through 50 were shipped on January 4.[63]
  • Born: Gustave Malécot, French mathematician and geneticist, in La Grand-Croix (d. 1998)

December 29, 1911 (Friday)[edit]

December 30, 1911 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Turkey's Grand Vizier and all of his ministers resigned after opposition members of the Chamber of Deputies boycotted the assembly.[66]
  • Born: Alfred Friendly, American journalist and managing editor of the Washington Post, credited with bringing the newspaper to national prominence; in Salt Lake City (d. 1983)

December 31, 1911 (Sunday)[edit]

  • China's National Assembly voted to begin using the "Western calendar" to replace the traditional Chinese lunar calendar used by the Emperor, with full use to begin effective January 1, 1912, which was declared as the "first day of the first month of the first year of the Republic of China" (and was the 13th day of 11th month of the 4609th year of the traditional calendar).[67]
  • Russian troops, occupying the Persian city of Tabriz, carried out the execution of Shiite Muslim cleric Seqat-ol-Eslam Tabrizi, along with 12 other Iranian nationalists, in retaliation for their opposition to the Russian invasion.[68]


  1. ^ Urgunge Onon and Derrick Pritchatt, Asia's First Modern Revolution: Mongolia Proclaims its Independence in 1911 (BRILL, 1989) p15
  2. ^ "DYNAMITERS ADMIT GUILT - TIMES BOMB EXPLODED BY M'NAMARA", Milwaukee Sentinel, December 2, 1911, p1
  3. ^ "Darrow Defends His Course", New York Times, December 6, 1911
  4. ^ "Opium Conference To-Day", New York Times, December 1, 1911; Mannfred A. Hollinger, Introduction to Pharmacology (CRC Press, 2003) p357
  5. ^ "Another Coronation; It Is That of King Chowfa Maha Vajiravudh of Siam", New York Times, December 3, 1911
  6. ^ "King George at Bombay", New York Times, December 2, 1911
  7. ^ Jeff Rubin, Antarctica (Lonely Planet, 2008) p56
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Britannica Year-Book 1913: A Survey of the World's Progress Since the Completion in 1910 of the Encyclopædia Britannica] (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1913) pp. xix to xxi
  9. ^ Jianfu Chen, Chinese Law: Context and Transformation (BRILL, 2008) p81
  10. ^ "Turks Kill 14 Bulgarians", New York Times, December 7, 1911
  11. ^ "Government Sues Cash Register Co.", New York Times, December 5, 1911
  12. ^ "Rockefellers Out of Standard Oil", New York Times, December 5, 1911
  13. ^ "Harriman Defeated by Big Margin", Milwaukee Sentinel, December 6, 1911, p1
  14. ^ Sean Dennis Cashman, America in the Age of the Titans: the Progressive Era and World War I (NYU Press, 1988) p299
  15. ^ Richard Melzer, Buried Treasures: Famous and Unusual Gravesites in New Mexico History (Sunstone Press, 2007) p142
  16. ^ Miklós Kun, Stalin (Central European University Press, 2003) p117
  17. ^ "Prince Chun Drops Regency of China", New York Times, December 7, 1911
  18. ^ George P. Oslin, The Story of Telecommunications, (Mercer University Press, 1999) p254
  19. ^ "Hundreds Drown in Russian Bridge Collapse on Volga", Milwaukee Sentinel, December 8, 1911, p1
  20. ^ "General elections 1890-1993 - seats won by party" Archived 2011-11-09 at the Wayback Machine,
  21. ^ Leta E. Miller, Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War (University of California Press, 2011) p31
  22. ^ Coal Creek Watershed Foundation;
  23. ^ "156 Men Entombed by Mine Explosion", New York Times, December 10, 1911; "Find 5 Men Alive in Wrecked Mine", New York Times, December 12, 1911
  24. ^ Stephen Kinzer, Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future (Macmillan, 2010) p22
  25. ^ Miguel De La Torre and Albert Hernández, The Quest for the Historical Satan (Fortress Press, 2011) p16
  26. ^ "16 Killed by Disaster in Portugal", New York Times, December 12, 1911
  27. ^ Thomas Harrison, The Great Empires of the Ancient World (Getty Publications, 2009) p231
  28. ^ "Population of Great Britain & Ireland 1570-1931" Archived 2015-10-23 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Sensation Sprung at Imperial Durbar", New York Times, December 13, 1911
  30. ^ Arnold P. Kaminsky and Roger D. Long, India Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic (ABC-CLIO, 2011) p503
  31. ^ "Dollar a Day Bill for Pensions Passes", New York Times, December 13, 1911
  32. ^ David R. Berman, Arizona Politics and Government: The Quest for Autonomy, Democracy, and Development (University of Nebraska Press, 1998) p35
  33. ^ Cyrus Adler and Aaron Morris Margalith, With Firmness in the Right: American Diplomatic Action Affecting Jews, 1840-1945 (Ayer Publishing, 1977) p286; "Votes 300 to 1 Against Treaty", New York Times, December 14, 1911
  34. ^ "Anglophobism Increases", New York Times, December 17, 1911
  35. ^ Roald Amundsen, The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the "Fram," 1910-1912 (Lee Keddick Publishing, 1913) p xvii
  36. ^ Jeff Rubin, Antarctica (Lonely Planet, 2008) p53
  37. ^ Susan Solomon, The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition (Yale University Press, 2002)
  38. ^ J. M. Barrie, Scott's Last Expedition - The Personal Journals of Captain R. F. Scott, C.V.O., R.N., on His Journey to the South Pole (1913, reprinted by READ BOOKS, 2009) p392
  39. ^ Ciro Paoletti, A Military History of Italy (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008) p135
  40. ^ Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene, Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign (University of Illinois Press, 2008) p26
  41. ^ Morris Rossabi, Mary Rossabi, Herdsman to Statesman: The Autobiography of Jamsrangiin Sambuu of Mongolia (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010) p52
  42. ^ Neil Tonge, Industrialisation and Society (Nelson Thornes, Ltd., 1993) p405
  43. ^ Anne K. Bang, Sufis and scholars of the sea: family networks in East Africa, 1860-1925 (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003) p154
  44. ^ "Lloyd-George Hurt", New York Times, December 17, 1911
  45. ^ "Lloyd George's Assailant", Ohineumuri (N.Z.) Gazette", December 20, 1911
  46. ^ "Pope Breaks Precedent", New York Times, December 18, 1911
  47. ^ James Minahan, The Former Soviet Union's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook (ABC-CLIO, 2004) pp137-138
  48. ^ "Senate Affirms Treaty Break", New York Times, December 20, 1911; "Repeal of Treaty Ratified by House", New York Times, December 21, 1911
  49. ^ J. F. V. Keiger, Raymond Poincaré (Cambridge University Press, 2002) p125
  50. ^ Jim Fisher, Forensics under Fire: Are Bad Science and Dueling Experts Corrupting Criminal Justice? (Rutgers University Press, 2008) pp104-105
  51. ^ Dorothy Hoobler and Thomas Hoobler, The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection (Hachette Digital, 2009)
  52. ^ "Persians Describe Russians' Butchery", New York Times, December 28, 1911
  53. ^ Christopher Heaney, Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu (Macmillan, 2011) p126
  54. ^ "Persia Gives In: Shuster to Quit", New York Times, December 23, 1911
  55. ^ "Gold for Turkey Seized", New York Times, December 23, 1911
  56. ^ Said Amir Arjomand, The Turban for the Crown: the Islamic Revolution in Iran (Oxford University Press, 1989) p46
  57. ^ a b Marie-Claire Bergère and Janet Lloyd, Sun Yat-sen (Stanford University Press, 1998) pp211-213
  58. ^ Dawn B. Sova, Banned Plays: Censorship Histories of 125 Stage Dramas (Infobase Publishing, 2004) p141
  59. ^ "Smoked Herring Kills 36", New York Times, December 28, 1911; "50 Now dead from Eating Herrings", December 29, 1911; "Nine More Die of Poison", December 30, 1911
  60. ^ "Poison Victims Now 75", New York Times, December 31, 1911; "More Berliners Poisoned-- No Further Deaths-- Liquor Dealer Held for Selling Suspected Whisky", January 1, 1912; Ettore Molinari, Treatise on General and Industrial Organic Chemistry, Volume 1 (P. Blakiston's Son & Co., 1921) P128
  61. ^ "Mexican textile workers: from conquest to globalization", by Jeffrey Bortz, in The Ashgate Companion to the History of Textile Workers, 1650-2000 (Ashgate Publishing, 2010) p346-347
  62. ^ Anjana Motihar Chandra, India Condensed: 5000 Years of History and Culture (Marshall Cavendish, 2007)
  63. ^ Rick Sapp, Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms (F+W Media, Inc, 2007) p138
  64. ^ "Montero Ecuador's Ruler", New York Times, December 30, 1911
  65. ^ "Montero Beheaded by Mob", New York Times, January 27, 1912
  66. ^ "Turkish Cabinet Out", New York Times, December 31, 1911
  67. ^ Guoqi Xu, China and the Great War: China's Pursuit of a New National Identity and Internationalization (Cambridge University Press, 2005) p34
  68. ^ Joseph J. St. Marie and Shahdad Naghshpour, Revolutionary Iran and the United States: Low Intensity Conflict in the Persian Gulf" (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2011) p45