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18th December

1707 * Charles Wesley, English evangelist and writer of 5,500 Hymns.

1737 Antonio Stradivari, great Italian violin maker died.

1787 New Jersey became the third US state.

1779 * Joseph Grimaldi, English pantomimist who created the white-faced clown "Joey".

1865 The US officially abolished slavery through the 13th Amendment.

1903 The Panama Canal Zone was acquired "in perpetuity", by the USA.

1916 * Betty Grable, US singer, actress and dancer who starred in the film Pin-Up Girl (1944).

1943 * Keith Richards, English guitarist with the rock group The Rolling Stones.

1947 * Steven Spielberg, US film director who won an Oscar for the film Schindler's List (1994).

1956 Japan was admitted to the United Nations.

1974 The Government agreed to pay compensation to relatives of the 13 men killed in the Bloody Sunday riots in Londonderry three years ago.

1979 The land "sound barrier" was broken by Stanley Barrett driving at 739.6mph, in California.

1985 Two Australians faced the death penalty after their appeal against a conviction for smuggling heroin was rejected by a Malaysian court.

1987 New York stockbroker Ivan Boesky was given a 3 year jail sentence for insider dealing.

1989 In a U turn, the Labour Party abandons its policy on trade union closed shops in line with European legislation.

1997 A bill giving Scotland its own parliament for the first time in three centuries was unveiled in Glasgow.

xxxx * = Date of birth

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