History for December 31 - On-This-Day.com
1695 - The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up.
1862 - U.S. President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
1879 - Thomas Edison gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting to an audience in Menlo Park, NJ.
1891 - New York's new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.
1929 - Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played "Auld Lang Syne" as a New Year's Eve song for the first time.
1946 - U.S. President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
1947 - Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were married.
1955 - General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year.
1967 - The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game is known as the Ice Bowl since it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero. (NFL)
1974 - Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
1997 - Michael Kennedy, 39-year-old son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.
1999 - Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president.