December 4 is the 338th day (339th on leap years) of the Gregorian calendar. There are 27 days remaining.
- 771 - Austrasian King Carloman dies, leaving his brother Charlemagne king of the now complete Frank kingdom.
- 1110 - First Crusade: The Crusaders conquer Sidon.
- 1563 - The final session of the Council of Trent is held (it opened on December 13, 1545).
- 1619 - Thirty-eight colonists from Berkeley Parish in England disembark in Virginia and give thanks to God (this is considered to be the first Thanksgiving in the Americas).
- 1674 - Father Jacques Marquette founds a mission on the shores of Lake Michigan to minister to the Illinois Indians (the mission would later grow into the city of Chicago).
- 1676 - Battle of Lund
- 1783 - At Fraunces Tavern in New York City, US General George Washington formally bids his officers farewell.
- 1791 - The first issue of The Observer, the world's first Sunday newspaper, is published.
- 1829 - In the face of fierce opposition, British Lord William Bentinck carries a regulation declaring that all who abetted suttee in India were guilty of culpable homicide.
- 1864 - American Civil War: Sherman's March to the Sea - At Waynesboro, Georgia, forces under Union General Judson Kilpatrick prevent troops led by Confederate General Joseph Wheeler from interfering with Union General William T. Sherman campaign of destroying a wide swath of the South on his march to the Gulf of Mexico (Union forces did suffer more than three times the casualties as the Confederates, however).
- 1867 - Former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley founds the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry (better known today as the Grange Movement).
- 1872 - The crewless American ship Mary Celeste is found by the British brig Dei Gratia (the ship was abandoned for 9 days but was only slightly damaged).
- 1875 - Notorious New York City politician Boss Tweed escapes from prison and flees to Cuba, then Spain.
- 1906 - Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity in the United States established for men of African descent, was founded at Cornell University.
- 1918 - US President Woodrow Wilson sails for Versailles for the World War I peace talks, becoming the first US president to travel to Europe while in office.
- 1921 - The Virginia Rappe manslaughter trial against actor and film director Roscoe Arbuckle ends in a hung jury.
- 1942 - Holocaust: In Warsaw, two Christian women, Zofia Kossak and Wanda Filipowicz risk their lives by setting up the Council for the Assistance of the Jews .
- 1943 - World War II: In Yugoslavia, resistance leader Marshal Tito proclaims a provisional democratic Yugoslav government in-exile.
- 1943 - Great Depression ends in the United States: With unemployment figures falling fast due to World War II-related employment, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt closes the Works Progress Administration.
- 1945 - By a vote of 65 to 7, the United States Senate approves United States participation in the United Nations (the UN was established on October 24, 1945).
- 1952 - Great Smog of 1952: A "killer fog" descends on London ("Smog" for "smoke" and "fog" becomes a word).
- 1958 - Dahomey (present-day Benin) becomes a self-governing country within the French Community .
- 1967 - Vietnam War: US and South Vietnamese forces engage Viet Cong troops in the Mekong Delta (235 of the 300-strong Viet Cong battalion were killed).
- 1969 - Black Panther members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark are shot to death in their sleep during a raid by 14 Chicago police officers.
- 1969 - Legendary surfer Greg "Da Bull" Noll rode a 65-foot wave on the North Shore of Oahu, still the highest ever recorded.
- 1977 - Jean-Bédel Bokassa, president of the Central African Republic, crowns himself Emperor Bokassa I of the Central African Empire.
- 1977 - A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 is hijacked and then blown up in mid-air over the Straits of Johore , killing 100.
- 1978 - Following the murder of Mayor George Moscone, Dianne Feinstein becomes San Francisco, California's first woman mayor (she served until January 8, 1988).
- 1981 - South Africa grants "homeland" Ciskei independence (not recognized outside South Africa).
- 1982 - The People's Republic of China adopts its current constitution.
- 1991 - Journalist Terry Anderson is released after a seven years' captivity as a hostage in Beirut (he was the last and longest-held American hostage in Lebanon).
- 1991 - US airline Pan Am ends operations.
- 1992 - President George H. W. Bush orders 28,000 US troops to Somalia.
- 1993 - A truce is concluded between the government of Angola and UNITA rebels.
- 1585 - John Cotton, American Puritan leader (d. 1652)
- 1777 - Madame Récamier, writer (d. 1849)
- 1795 - Thomas Carlyle, writer, historian (d. 1881)
- 1835 - Samuel Butler, writer (d. 1902)
- 1849 - Crazy Horse, Native American leader (d. 1877)
- 1861 - Lillian Russell, singer, actress (d. 1922)
- 1866 - Wassily Kandinsky, painter (d. 1944)
- 1875 - Rainer Maria Rilke, poet (d. 1926)
- 1892 - Francisco Franco, dictator of Spain (d. 1975)
- 1895 - Fung Yu-lan, Chinese philosopher (d. 1990)
- 1903 - Cornell Woolrich, crime writer, "Father of Film Noir" (d. September 24, 1968)
- 1908 - Alfred Hershey, American psychologist, Nobel winner 1969 (d. 1997)
- 1912 - Pappy Boyington, American fighter pilot (d. 1988)
- 1914 - Rudolf Hausner , painter and graphic artist (d. 1995)
- 1916 - Ely Jacques Kahn, Jr., American magazine writer (d. 1994)
- 1921 - Deanna Durbin, actress, singer
- 1922 - Gérard Philipe, actor (d. 1959)
- 1931 - Alex Delvecchio, ice hockey Hall of Fame player
- 1934 - Victor French, actor (d. 1989)
- 1934 - Wink Martindale, game show host
- 1937 - Max Baer, Jr., actor, screen writer, director, producer
- 1938 - Yvonne Minton, Australian soprano
- 1939 - Freddy Cannon, American Rock musician
- 1940 - John Cale, rock musician (The Velvet Underground)
- 1942 - Gemma Jones, British actress
- 1942 - Roh Tae-woo, President of South Korea
- 1944 - Dennis Wilson, pop musician (The Beach Boys) (d. 1983)
- 1945 - Roberta Bondar, astronaut and scientist
- 1949 - Jeff Bridges, actor
- 1955 - Brian O'Sullivan, Florida businessman.
- 1957 - Eric S. Raymond, open source advocate
- 1960 - Glynis Nunn, Australian heptathlete
- 1961 - Frank Reich, American football quarterback
- 1963 - Sergey Bubka, athlete (pole vault)
- 1964 - Marisa Tomei, actress
- 1969 - Shawn Carter, AKA 'Jay-Z,' singer
- 1972 - Nikki Tyler, pornographic actress
- 1973 - Tyra Banks, model
- 765 - Jafar Sadiq, Shia Imam (b. 702)
- 771 - Carloman, king of the Franks (b. 751)
- 1131 - Omar Khayyam, Persian poet, astronomer, mathematician and philosopher (b. 1048)
- 1214 - William I of Scotland
- 1334 - Pope John XXII
- 1408 - Valentina Visconti, wife of Louis of Valois, Duke of Orléans
- 1576 - Rheticus , mathematician
- 1642 - Cardinal Richelieu, French statesman (b. 1585)
- 1679 - Thomas Hobbes, English political philosopher
- 1732 - John Gay, English playwright
- 1798 - Luigi Galvani, physicist
- 1845 - Gregor MacGregor, con artist
- 1867 - Sophie (Frémiet) Rude , French artist
- 1890 - King Willem III of the Netherlands (date of burial)
- 1926 - Ivana Kobilca, Slovene painter (b. 1861)
- 1933 - Stefan George, German poet (b. 1868)
- 1935 - Johan Halvorsen, Norwegian composer
- 1950 - Blind A Bing , Chinese folk musician
- 1956 - Alexandr Rodchenko, Russian painter and photographer
- 1967 - Bert Lahr, actor
- 1973 - Michael O'Shea , actor
- 1976 - Benjamin Britten, English composer (b. 1913)
- 1976 - Tommy Bolin, rock guitarist (Deep Purple)
- 1980 - Francisco Sá Carneiro, Prime Minister of Portugal (died in office)
- 1980 - Stanislawa Walasiewicz, Polish-American sprinter
- 1993 - Frank Zappa, American rock musician, composer
- 1997 - Richard Vernon , actor
- 2001 - Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Al-Haj, Sultan of Selangor and Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Holidays and observances
December 3 - December 5 - November 4 - January 4 -- listing of all days
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