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History's Happenings for December 10

Mississippi Admitted to Union

(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.
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Birth of William Lloyd Garrison

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Women Gain Vote in Wyoming

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Nobel Prize Day

Scientist Alfred Nobel was born on October 21, 1833 in Stockholm, son of the owner of an explosives factory.

After studying chemistry and engineering in Russia and the United States, he returned to Sweden to assist in the family business, developing and producing explosives.

When his younger brother, along with several others, were killed in a factory explosion involving nitroglycerin, Nobel set out to find a way to make this volatile explosive safer to handle. His solution was to blend it with an organic filler, which yielded a safe but powerful explosive and, in 1867, he named it dynamite. It changed the world.

Highly successful producing his new explosive and other inventions -- including an early smokeless powder -- Nobel left an estate of some $9 million at his death in 1896.

In his will he specified that the bulk of it be set aside in a trust to provide prizes in five disciplines each year, in recognition of the greatest achievement in that discipline. The original categories specified by Nobel were chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, literature and world peace, each to receive an equal share of the accumulated interest on the trust. (A prize in economics was added by the Swedish Riksbank in 1969).

The first Nobel Prizes were awarded on this day in 1901, five years after the inventor's death, and the anniversary of his death continues to be the day for making the awards.

Two U.S. presidents have so far received the Nobel Peace Prize: Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, for his efforts in negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War; and Woodrow Wilson, in 1919, for his leadership in the Versailles peace process. Since their inception, over one-third of Nobel laureates have been Americans, particularly in the physical sciences and economics.

Treaty Ends Spanish-American War

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Roosevelt Wins Peace Prize

President Theodore Roosevelt

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Hanukkah (begins at sundown)

The Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, was originated by Judas Maccabaeus in 164 BC, in celebration of the purification of the Temple in Jersusalem.

The year before, the Temple had been desecrated by Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes, who had converted it to pagan worship and unclean offerings. When Antiochus died in 164 BC the Maccabaeans, who had already defeated the larger Seleucid army at nearby Emmaus, were strong enough to wrest back control of the Temple.

The repurification is represented by the lighting of an additional candle on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

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