Today in History: December 5, Nelson Mandela dies at 95


In 1791, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, Austria, at age 35.

In 1792, George Washington was re-elected president; John Adams was re-elected vice president.

In 1848, President James K. Polk triggered the Gold Rush of ’49 by confirming that gold had been discovered in California.

In 1932, German physicist Albert Einstein was granted a visa, making it possible for him to travel to the United States.

In 1933, national Prohibition came to an end as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment.

In 1952, the Great Smog of London descended on the British capital; the unusually thick fog, which contained toxic pollutants, lasted five days and was blamed for causing thousands of deaths.

In 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged to form the AFL-CIO under its first president, George Meany.

In 1994, Republicans chose Newt Gingrich to be the first GOP speaker of the House in four decades.

In 2009, a jury in Perugia, Italy convicted American student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, of murdering Knox’s British roommate, Meredith Kercher, and sentenced them to long prison terms. (After a series of back-and-forth rulings, Knox and Sollecito were definitively acquitted in 2015 by Italy’s highest court.)

In 2012, Jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck died in Norwalk, Connecticut, a day before he would have turned 92.

In 2013, Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first Black president, died at age 95.

In 2017, Democratic congressman John Conyers of Michigan resigned from Congress after a nearly 53-year career, becoming the first Capitol Hill politician to lose his job amid the sexual misconduct allegations sweeping through the nation’s workplaces.

In 2018, former President George H.W. Bush was mourned at a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral attended by President Donald Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter along with their spouses; former president George W. Bush was among the speakers.

In 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she had asked the relevant House committee chairs to begin drawing up articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, saying his actions left them “no choice” but to act swiftly in response. (Trump would be impeached by the House on charges of obstruction and abuse of power, but the Senate voted to acquit in the first of two Trump impeachment trials.)

In 2020, at a Georgia rally where he urged supporters to turn out for a pair of Republican Senate candidates in a January runoff election, President Donald Trump spread baseless allegations of misconduct in the November voting in Georgia and beyond.

In 2021, Bob Dole, who overcame disabling war wounds to become a Senate leader from Kansas, a Republican presidential candidate and then a symbol of his dwindling generation of World War II veterans, died at age 98.

In 2022, Moscow unleashed a massive missile barrage in Ukraine, striking homes and buildings and killing civilians just hours after the Kremlin claimed Ukrainian drones struck two air bases deep inside Russian territory.


Author Calvin Trillin is 88.

Actor Jeroen Krabbe is 79.

Opera singer Jose Carreras is 77.

Musician and singer Jim Messina is 76.

College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett is 76.

World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins is 74.

Actor Morgan Brittany is 72.

Actor Brian Backer is 67.

Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Art Monk is 66.

Country singer Ty England is 60.

Rock singer-musician John Rzeznik (The Goo Goo Dolls) is 58.

Country singer Gary Allan is 56.

Comedian-actor Margaret Cho is 55.

Writer-director Morgan J. Freeman is 54.

Actor Alex Kapp Horner is 54.

Actor Kali Rocha is 52.

Rock musician Regina Zernay (Cowboy Mouth) is 51.

Actor Paula Patton is 48.

Actor Amy Acker is 47.

Actor Nick Stahl is 44.

Actor Adan Canto is 42.

R&B singer Keri Hilson is 41.

Actor Gabriel Luna is 41.

Actor Frankie Muniz is 38.

Actor Ross Bagley is 35.

MLB outfielder Christian Yelich is 32.