This Day in History
December 19th: The First Article of “The American Crisis” Is Published, the Final Mission of the Apollo Program and Other Events of the Date
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December 19th: The First Article of “The American Crisis” Is Published, the Final Mission of the Apollo Program and Other Events of the Date


A number of important events have taken place on December 19th in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.

1776 - The first article in the series of “The American Crisis” is published

Thomas Paine was one of the most prominent philosophers of the era of the Enlightenment, which is a great achievement by the definition. Being  English-born, he became an image of the American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary, and when the right time for rebellion came – Paine also became one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, as he authored two of the most influential pamphlets of the American Revolution and inspired American patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. Thus, when such a person talks about the “crisis” – he should be heard attentively.

The series of pamphlets published between 1776 and 1783 with the title of “The American Crisis” was contemporaneous with early parts of the American Revolution, during a time when colonists were in need of inspiration.“The crisis papers” were the answer to the need for freedom on the part of former colonists and the future American nation. And Paine played his vital role as a propagandist, like many other politicians and scholars of the time he knew that the colonists weren't going to support the American Revolutionary War without proper reasons to do so.

The first volume begins with the famous words, “these are the times that try men's souls…”; the pamphlets were written in common and simple language, so everyday Americans could understand them. Paine also referred to God, stating that the war against the Great Britain would be a just one, and that God would help America.

1907 - Darr Mine disaster

At the turn of the 20th century labor conditions were far from ideal, so, unfortunately, tragedies like the one that happened at Van Meter, Pennsylvania occurred quite often despite the protests from different organizations which were attempting to protect the rights of ordinary workers.

The Darr Mine disaster killed 239 men and boys (since child labor was still practiced in the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century) on December 19, 1907, and it still ranks as the worst coal mining disaster in Pennsylvania’s history.

The inquiry that was carried out right after the disaster determined that the blast was the result of miners carrying open lamps in an area cordoned off the previous day by the fire boss, yet, since this finding was likely merely an excuse for the mine’s owner, the result of the investigation is still quite controversial. Wild capitalism is something that inevitably leads to the deaths of workers. The mine’s owner itself, the Pittsburgh Coal Company was not held responsible but abandoned the use of open lamps after the disaster.

1972 – The end of the final mission of the Apollo program

The Apollo program, also known as Project Apollo, was one of the United States’ human spaceflight program (the third in a row) carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which accomplished the feat of landing the first humans on the Moon from 1969 to 1972, yet, this issue remains controversial. First conceived during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration as a three-man spacecraft to follow the one-man Project Mercury which put the first Americans in space, Apollo was later dedicated to President John F. Kennedy's national goal of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." After all, what else could America do after the Soviets were the first into space?

Apollo 17 was the last mission of the program, as it started December 7th and ended on December 19, 1972. An interesting detail: Apollo 17 was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight and the final manned launch of a Saturn V rocket, and the crew of the spacecraft was made up of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt.

These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on December 19th, at least in our view.

Author: USA Really