The first few days of December bring historical events that happened while the holiday season was just getting started.
From the first issue of an abolitionist’s newspaper, to a popular mystery author becoming a mystery herself, to 800 students being arrested at Berkeley and U.S Armed Forces allowing women to see combat.
Dec. 3, 1847
First issue of an abolitionist paper published
In Rochester, N.Y., 1847, Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist, published the first issue of the anti-slavery paper, The North Star. The paper merged in 1851 with the Liberty Party Paper to form the Frederick Douglass’ Paper.
The slogan of The North Star was “right is of no sex – truth is of no color – God is the Father of us all, and all we are brethren.”
After escaping from slavery in Maryland, Douglass became a national leader in the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York. He was an active
supporter for women’s suffrage as well as a supporter for
After subscribing to The Liberator, a weekly newspaper published by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass was inspired in 1846 to start his own. The paper’s title was inspired by the directions given to runaway slaves trying to reach the Northern states and Canada. They were told to “follow the North Star,” which was also a figure of speech describing Canada as being the “north star.”
It was published weekly and was four pages long. It sold for $2 per year and had more than 4000 readers in the Caribbean, Europe and U.S. The first page always focused on current events having to do with abolitionist issues.
Douglass began publishing The North Star from the basement of the Memorial AME Zion Church in Rochester.
In one issue of the paper, Douglass printed a graphic passage in which he targeted his former slaveowner, Auld, asking how he would feel if Douglass came and took away Auld’s daughter, Amanda, as a slave, treating her as Auld treated him and his family. He also finished the passage by stating he meant no ill will toward Auld, and if Auld ever needed anything, such as a safe roof, Douglass would offer him a place to stay as, “an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other.”
In 1851, Douglass merged with Gerrit Smith’s Liberty Party Paper. Together, the two created the Frederick Douglass Paper, which was published until 1860.
Dec. 3, 1926
Mystery writer becomes a
Agatha Christie was a beloved mystery author who is as classic today as she was in the early 1900s. She is most known for her mystery novels such as “The ABC Murders” and “Murder on the Orient Express.”
However, Dec. 3, 1926, the famous author kissed her sleeping daughter, Rosalind, goodnight and went out to her car. She drove off into the night and was not seen again for 11 days.
Within a few hours, her car was found abandoned, but there was no sign of Christie or any evidence that she had been involved in any type of accident.
A popular theory was that this was a publicity stunt for her newest novel, “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.” However, the novel was doing well and Christie had become a household name.
Her husband was said to have a mistress, and another theory was that he had possibly murdered Christie.
Eleven days later, she was found in a hotel in Harrogate, but the mystery only grew around the writer. She had no recollection of the past days’ events.
Police decided to piece together the events from the clues given. They determined Christie had left her house, traveled the way to London, crashed her car, then took a train to Harrogate. She checked into the Swan Hydro hotel. Even more odd, she used the name of her husband’s mistress.
Christie made a full recovery and took with her to her deathbed the greatest mystery of her stories: what happened during those 11 days that she was missing?
Dec. 3, 1964
800 students arrested at
Berkeley due to protest
The Free Speech Movement (FSM) took place during the 1964-65 academic year at the University of California, Berkeley. Thousands of students participated, and the FSM was the first mass act of civil disobedience on a college campus.
In 1958, students organized a campus political party known as SLATE to promote the right of student groups to support off-campus issues.
In the fall of 1964, student activists set up information tables on campus and were asking for donations for causes connected with the Civil Rights Movement. According to the school rules at the time, fundraising for political parties was only allowed by the Democrat and Republican school clubs.
On Dec. 2, 1964, between 1500 and 4000 students, led by Mario Savio, went to Sproul Hall on campus to reopen negotiations with the administration on the restrictions of political speech and action on campus. The protest was done quietly; students studied, watched movies, listened to music and sang folk songs led by Joan Baez, a singer and songwriter who was also a strong activist.
Shortly after 2 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 3, the Alameda County deputy district attorney asked for authority to proceed with a mass arrest. Close to 800 students were arrested and transported by bus to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. The university brought charges against the students who organized the sit-in, which resulted in an even larger protest that almost shut down the university.
The next year, the new acting chancellor Martin Meyerson changed the rules, allowing for freedom of speech and open discussions on the campus.
Since then, the college has had open discussions about freedom of speech while on campus.
While December is best known for the holiday season, there are other events that made the month memorable.