Today in history

Published Dec 13, 2013 at 12:01AM

Highlight: In 2000, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore conceded to Republican George W. Bush, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court shut down further recounts in Florida.

In 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman sighted present-day New Zealand.

In 1769, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire received its charter.

In 1862, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside launched futile attacks against entrenched Confederate soldiers during the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg; the soundly defeated Northern troops withdrew two days later. (It was during this battle that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is said to have remarked: “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”)

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit Europe while in office.

In 1928, George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” had its premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 1937, the Chinese city of Nanjing fell to Japanese forces; what followed was a massacre of war prisoners, soldiers and citizens. (China maintains as many as 300,000 people died; Japan says the toll was far less.)

In 1944, during World War II, the U.S. cruiser Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze attack that claimed more than 130 lives.

In 1962, the United States launched Relay 1, a communications satellite which retransmitted television, telephone and digital signals.

In 1981, authorities in Poland imposed martial law in a crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. (Martial law formally ended in 1983.)

In 1994, an American Eagle commuter plane crashed short of Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, killing 15 of the 20 people on board.

Ten years ago: Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole under a farmhouse in Adwar, Iraq, near his hometown of Tikrit.

Five years ago: The White House weighed its options for preventing a collapse of the troubled U.S. auto industry.

One year ago: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew from consideration to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 88. Actor Christopher Plummer is 84. Singer Ted Nugent is 65. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is 60. Actor Steve Buscemi is 56. Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx is 46. Country singer Taylor Swift is 24.