Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

The 12 biggest American history events related to December 12

December 12, 2012 by NCC Staff


There’s a lot of attention on the number 12 and its various combinations on this unique day of December 12, 2012--or 12/12/12, the last day of this century when the month, day, and year share a number. Here’s a look at the biggest American history events related to 12/12/12.

The 12th president fights in the War of 1812.

1. For starters, there’s the 12th president: Zachary Taylor. The former general was elected in 1848, but he only served 16 months in office before dying at the age of 65. He was the last member of the Whig Party elected as president and he fought in the War of 1812.

2. And then there is the 12th Amendment to the Constitution. Passed in 1804, the 12th Amendment was a result of the infamous presidential election and House runoff vote of 1800.

Somehow, presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr, tied in the election. That caused constitutional chaos in the House, as Alexander Hamilton stepped in to support his bitter enemy, Jefferson, over Burr. The 12th Amendment eliminated that problem in June 1804.

3. Next, how about the 12th justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court? It's Alfred Moore of North Carolina. Moore was appointed in 1800 and quit in 1804. In that time, Moore did little due to health issues. He was also the shortest Supreme Court justice, standing 4 feet 5 inches tall.

4. The 12th state to join the United States was North Carolina. It joined the Union on November 21, 1789. In the Civil War, it was one of the last of the Confederate states to secede from the Union. Two presidents were born in North Carolina:  James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson. But neither man resided there just before they took office.

5. Going backwards to the Colonial era, the year 1712 saw two significant events that would have ramifications after the United States formed its own country. In that year, the colony of Pennsylvania banned the importation of slaves, and the colonies of North Carolina and South Carolina were created.

6. A century later, the year 1812 got its own war, as the United States clashed with the British and their allies. The fight stretched into early 1815, as the sides reached a stalemate. The ensuing “Era of Good Feelings" under President James Monroe was an experiment in nonpartisan government that ended in 1824.

7. The year of 1912 could be called the “Year of Bad Feelings,” as three candidates fought for office: Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt. Wilson capitalized on the split between the current president (Taft) and former president (Roosevelt) to win the election. Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt to finish in second place.

Recent Constitution Daily Stories

Court to rule on same-sex marriage: What’s at stake Monarch vs. president: What’s the better succession system? The 14th Amendment’s possible role in raising the debt ceiling

8. And in the year 2012, President Barack Obama won re-election in a hard-fought campaign against GOP nominee Mitt Romney. The election featured feisty debates, a ton of TV ads, and the growth of social media and digital research as campaigning tools.

Here are four other December 12 dates that are historically significant:

9. On December 12, 2000, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the Bush v. Gore case, which settled the presidential election.

10. On December 12, 1745, Founding Father John Jay was born. Jay was the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, a diplomat, and a vocal opponent of slavery.

11. On December 12, 1787, the state of Pennsylvania ratified the Constitution. It was the second state to do so, and the defeat of the Anti-Federalists paved the way for the Constitution’s approval in other states.

12. And last but not least, December 12, 1915, marks the birth of Francis Albert Sinatra in Hoboken, N.J.  The singer-actor was an American icon and was also associated with President John F. Kennedy and President Ronald Reagan.


Sign up for our email newsletter