1651 By order of the Puritan lawmakers in Massachusetts, any colonist caught observing Christmas with feasts or other festivities is fined five shillings.
1776 George Washington's army crosses the Delaware River on Christmas night for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey, the next morning.
1830 In South Carolina, the Best Friend of Charleston becomes the first U.S. locomotive to begin regularly scheduled passenger service.
1868 President Andrew Johnson grants an unconditional pardon to all Confederates involved in the Civil War.
1896 John Philip Sousa completes his most famous march, "Starts and Stripes Forever."