Today is Monday, Dec. 18, the 352nd day of 2017. There are 13 days left in the year.
On Dec. 18, 1892, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia; although now considered a classic, it received a generally negative reception from critics.
In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In 1863, in a speech to the Prussian Parliament, Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck declared, "Politics is not an exact science."
In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect by Secretary of State William H. Seward.
In 1912, fossil collector Charles Dawson reported to the Geological Society of London his discovery of supposed early human remains at a gravel pit in Piltdown. (More than four decades later, Piltdown Man was exposed as a hoax.)
In 1916, during World War I, the 10-month Battle of Verdun ended with French troops succeeding in repulsing a major German offensive.
In 1917, Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors" and sent it to the states for ratification.
In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the government's wartime evacuation of people of Japanese descent from the West Coast while at the same time ruling that "concededly loyal" Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.
In 1956, Japan was admitted to the United Nations. The panel game show "To Tell the Truth" debuted on CBS-TV.
In 1969, Britain's House of Lords joined the House of Commons in making permanent a 1965 ban on the death penalty for murder.
In 1972, the United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 11 days later.)
In 1992, Kim Young-sam was elected South Korea's first civilian president in three decades.
Birthdays: Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is 90. Rock singer-musician Keith Richards is 74. Movie producer-director Steven Spielberg is 71. Movie reviewer Leonard Maltin is 67. Rock musician Elliot Easton is 64. Actor Ray Liotta is 62. Comedian Ron White is 61. Actor Brad Pitt is 54. Professional wrestler-turned-actor "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is 53. Actress Rachel Griffiths is 49. Tennis Hall of Famer Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is 46. Pop singer Sia is 42. Actress Katie Holmes is 39. Singer Christina Aguilera is 37.
Thought for Today: "Being jealous of a beautiful woman is not going to make you more beautiful." -- Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917-2016).