This Christmas week in history...

This week is history has certainly shown what an extraordinarily busy time Christmas can be...

On December 21, 1945, the legendary World War Two General George S Patton died in an automobile accident, just months after the end of World War Two.

Beatrix Potter passed away the same week, two years previously, on December 22, 1943. She left behind a legacy that would see her most famous story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, sell at Profiles in History's auction for $94,400, earlier this month.

On December 23, another famous army commander, years before Patton, had played a key role in defeating the British and uniting the nation during America's War of Independence.

Spurning the trappings which are often afforded a hero, the future first-ever US President George Washington - today one of the autograph market's most sought-after signatures - quietly returned to his farm, as if nothing had ever happened.

First edition warne Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter
First edition of Peter Rabbit
(Click for the inscription or here for the description)

Heroism of a very different kind took place on Christmas Eve, 1968, before the largest television audience in history.

The three-man crew of Apollo 8 - Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders - read passages from the book of Genesis, beamed to televisions across the land as part of Mankind's first-ever broadcast from outer space.

Christmas Day, nine years later in 1977, would see the passing of another screen star. The silent cinema icon Charlie Chaplin died, leaving behind him a show business career spanning 75 years and a life that was often as colourful off-screen as it was on.

Finally, yesterday, on Boxing Day 1939, the Depression-era US President and life-long stamp collector President Feodor D Roosevelt decided that he wasn't going to allow tradition to get in the way of his country's economic recovery - and rescheduled Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of the month.


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