This Day in History… December 23, 1823

U.S. #4712-15 – Donder (Donner) and Blitzen come from the Dutch words for “thunder” and “lightning.”

First Printing of “A Visit  from St. Nicholas”

“A Visit from St. Nicholas” was first printed anonymously on December 23, 1823.

Author and professor Clement Clarke Moore is generally considered the author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” also known as “The Night Before Christmas.”  Clarke claimed he wrote the now-famous poem while riding in a sleigh during a snowy shopping trip.
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This Day in History… December 22, 1912

U.S. #4716f – Johnson’s official White House portrait.

Birth of Lady Bird Johnson

First Lady Johnson was born on December 22, 1912, in Karnack, Texas.

Born Claudia Alta Taylor, the future Mrs. Johnson was nicknamed “Lady Bird” by her nurse, who said she was “as purty as a lady bird.”  The daughter of a successful cotton planter and one of the largest landowners in the county, Lady Bird had a privileged childhood.  She spent time in the fields of wildflowers surrounding her East Texas home, instilling an appreciation of nature that continued throughout her life.
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This Day in History… December 21, 1937

U.S. #3185hSnow White stamp from Celebrate the Century pane.

Snow White Premieres

On December 21, 1937, Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the world’s first full-length animated feature film.

“Snow White” is an old German folktale, preserved in written form by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm. The story tells of a princess who survives the murderous efforts of a jealous queen with the help of seven dwarfs.  Disney was inspired to re-tell the tale, removing much of the original story’s violence and playing up the romance.
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This Day in History… December 20, 1803

U.S. #1020 depicts the signing of the purchase on April 30, 1803.

Louisiana Purchase is Completed

On December 20, 1803,  the Louisiana Purchase was finalized with a ceremony in New Orleans.

In the early 1800s, Napoleon Bonaparte sought to create a great French empire in the New World.  The center of the empire was to be the nation of Hispaniola.  Napoleon envisioned that the Mississippi Valley would be the trade center of the new empire, shipping food and supplies from America to Hispaniola.

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This Day in History… December 19, 1777

U.S. #1689 pictures The March to Valley Forge by William Trego.

Washington Winters at Valley Forge

From December 19, 1777, to June 18, 1778, the Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, camped at Valley Forge.

Following the crushing defeats at Philadelphia and Germantown in late 1777, General George Washington led his men to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on December 19.  In addition to the recent losses that had dampened the men’s spirits, there was little food and inadequate clothing for the harsh winter conditions ahead.  Crude huts were hastily constructed to provide some type of shelter.  It was only when the last of 10,000 men had moved into sturdier structures that Washington abandoned his own tent in favor of the relative comfort of a hut.

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This Day in History… December 18, 1892

U.S. #4360-63 – Nutcrackers became popular in America after WWII soldiers sent them home from Germany as gifts.

Premiere of The Nutcracker Ballet

On December 18, 1892, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker premiered in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Germans coined the phrase, “Gott gibt die Nüsse, aber wir müssen sie knacken selbst.” (God gives the nuts, but we have to crack them ourselves). This verse is recited to teach German children that life is often difficult, but if you persevere the rewards are plentiful. This life lesson may have contributed to the popularity of nutcrackers, as it helped children to enjoy the benefits of hard work.

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