December 20

1790

Samuel Slater built the nation's first cotton mill in Pawtucket, R.I.

1803

The United States purchased the Louisiana territory from France for $15 million.

1860

South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.

1968

Author John Steinbeck died at age 66.

1989

The United States invaded Panama and installed a new government but failed to capture General Manuel Antonio Noriega.

1996

Astronomer Carl Sagan died at age 62.

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