Today In History, 16 December: What Happened On This Day

What happened today in history (16 December): The birth of Jane Austen and Philip K. Dick, the demise of Colonel Sanders, end of Bangladesh Liberation war and India's victory, discovery of nuclear fission, premiere of James Cameron's Avatar, and more.
This day in history (16 Dec): Pakistan Army's Humiliating Surrender Marked the End of the Bangladesh Liberation War
This day in history (16 Dec): Pakistan Army's Humiliating Surrender Marked the End of the Bangladesh Liberation War

Today in History: It’s halfway through December. Just two weeks are left before 2022 departs and another wonderful year arrives. Today is 16 December. Although it seems to be another chilly day of the winter, December 16 holds a significant place in world history. Many defining events happened on this day (16 Dec).

From the birth of the most famous feminist author and the most famous sci-fi writer of all time, the demise of the founder of one of the most popular fast food franchises in the world and the shocking Nirbhaya incident in India to the surrender of the Pakistani army in the Bangladesh Liberation War, December 16 is a pivotal day in history.

Dive in to find out what happened on this day (Dec. 16) in sports, politics and art, along with famous birthdays and deaths in world history.

Historical Events on This day

  • In 1707, the last known volcanic eruption in Mount Fuji, Japan happened.
  • In 1773, the famous event now known as the Boston Tea Party happened. American colonists dressed as Mohawk Indians threw 342 chests of tea belonging to the British East India Company into Boston Harbor in protest against the tea tax.
  • In 1899, the popular pro football club AC Milan was founded.
  • In 1903, the famous Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel in Mumbai, India, first opened.
  • In 1938, German chemists Otto Hahn, his wife Lise Meitner, and Fritz Strassman accidentally discovered nuclear fission while experimenting on uranium.
  • In 1971, 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered to the Indian army in the second Indo-Pakistan war, and thus Bangladesh was formed.
  • In 1985, American mobster Paul Castellano, a feared leader of organized crime and the boss of bosses of the Five Families of Mafia, was shot dead along with Thomas Bilotti. Fellow mobster John Gotti was later convicted of orchestrating the murder.
  • In 1991, Kazakhstan declared independence from the Soviet Union.
  • In 2009, American economist Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve at the time, was named Time’s Person of the Year for rescuing the global economy from the great recession sparked by the stock market fall of 2008.
  • In 2012, a woman later termed "Nirbhaya" (fearless) was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus, and the incident drew national and international outrage.
  • In 2014, members of the Taliban faction in Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, cowardly attacked a school in Peshawar, massacring 150 people, including 134 children.
  • In 2016, a 5-day red alert was declared in Beijing and 21 other Chinese cities due to pollution so severe that it was classified as a meteorological disaster.

Sports Events Today

  • In 1918, American heavyweight boxing legend Jack Dempsey KO'd Carl Morris in 14 seconds, one of the fastest boxing knockouts ever.
  • In 1927, Australian cricket legend Don Bradman made his first-class debut in a match between New South Wales and South Australia.
  • In 1973, American footballer and convicted criminal O.J. Simpson became the first NFL running back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

Music and Cinema Events Today

  • In 1962, Lawrence of Arabia, one of the greatest films of all time, was released in the United States.
  • In 1968, the acclaimed musical-fantasy film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang premiered. The film was written by Roald Dahl, directed by Ken Hughes, and starred Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes.
  • In 2009, James Cameron’s Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time, was released internationally. The film starred Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in the lead and grossed over $2.8 billion worldwide. 

Important Days

  • Vijay Diwas is celebrated every year on December 16 to commemorate India's victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Notable Deaths On This Day

Sr No

Death Year




William Petty, English economist, physician and philosopher who wrote the essential political economy book Treatise of Taxes and Contributions (1662)



Wilhelm Grimm, German author and younger brother of Jacob Grimm, who formed literary duo Brothers Grimm and wrote the book Grimms’ Fairy Tales



Colonel Sanders, founder of the global mega food franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)



Lee Van Cleef, American actor who is best known for playing “the bad” aka Angel Eyes in Sergio Leone’s iconic spaghetti-western film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Famous Birthdays On This Day

Sr No

Birth Year




Jane Austen, English writer who gained prominence for her feminist novels like Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Sense and Sensibility.



English playwright and actor Sir Noël Coward who is known for his witty and garish style of writing in such plays as Private Lives and Still Life



Philip K. Dick, American author who mainly worked in the sci-fi genre and wrote novels like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and A Scanner Darkly



Arthur C. Clarke, English sci-fi writer, futurist, inventor and undersea explorer who wrote the screenplay of the greatest sci-fi movie of all time 2001: A Space Odyssey



Krysten Ritter, American actress known for Jessica Jones and Breaking Bad

Also Read: Today in History (15 December)

Also Read: Today in History (14 December)

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