TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1803, the territory covered by the Louisiana Purchase was formally transferred to the United States from France.
In 1860, South Carolina seceded from the United States.
In 1941, with his army under pressure on the Russian front, Adolf Hitler ordered "no retreat."
In 1946, the Christmas film "It's a Wonderful Life" was released in New York City.
In 1989, the United States invaded Panama to overthrow dictator Manuel Noriega in Operation Just Cause.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938), business magnate; Branch Rickey (1881-1965), baseball executive; Irene Dunne (1898-1990), actress; Uri Geller (1946- ), illusionist; Dick Wolf (1946- ), TV producer; Alan Parsons (1948- ), musician; Billy Bragg (1957- ), singer-songwriter; Rich Gannon (1965- ), football player; David Wright (1982- ), baseball player; Jonah Hill (1983- ), actor.
TODAY'S FACT: Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison in the German state of Bavaria on this day in 1924 after 264 days of incarceration for treason.
TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1946, boxer Sugar Ray Robinson won the welterweight crown by a unanimous decision over Tommy Bell.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "A man with a surplus can control circumstances, but a man without a surplus is controlled by them, and often has no opportunity to exercise judgment." -- Harvey S. Firestone
TODAY'S NUMBER: 2.2 million -- acres of land owned by media billionaire John Malone, making him the largest private landowner in the United States.
TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter moon (Dec. 15) and full moon (Dec. 22).