December 2, 1823 President James Monroe of Virginia delivers a message to the U.S. Congress outlining a new foreign policy initiative, the Monroe Doctrine. The doctrine stated that the United States would not interfere in European affairs and that it expected European powers to cease efforts at colonizing the Western Hemisphere.
December 2, 1859 John Brown is hanged in Charles Town, Virginia, for leading a raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry and attempting to incite a slave rebellion.
December 4, 1619 Thirty-eight Englishmen leave their ship, venture onto land, and observe a prayer of Thanksgiving for safe passage to the New World. The site later became the plantation known as Berkeley, which directed in its charter that December 4th was a day of Thanksgiving to be "yearly and perpetually kept holy."
December 5, 1776 The first Greek letter fraternity in the nation, Phi Beta Kappa, is established by five College of William and Mary students at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg.
December 5, 1792 George Washington is elected to a second term as U.S. president, receiving 132 Electoral votes. John Adams came in second with 77 Electoral votes.
December 11, 1725 George Mason is born at the family plantation in Fairfax County. Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which later served as a model for the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.
December 14, 1799 George Washington dies at his home at age 67. Four days later a funeral was held at Mount Vernon, where his body was interred.
December 15, 1791 Virginia approves the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. This completed the three quarters of states needed for ratification so that the amendments could become law.
December 15, 1934 Maggie Lena Walker dies. She was a successful African American business woman and the first woman in the nation to establish and head a bank. She incorporated the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond in 1903 and served as its president until 1931, when the bank merged with other black banks to form the Consolidated Bank and Trust Company. Thousands of people turned out for her funeral in Richmond.
December 21, 1620 A group of religious dissenters, known as Pilgrims, left England for Virginia on their ship, the Mayflower. Blown off course by storms, the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Harbor in present day Massachusetts, hundreds of miles north of the land that had been granted them by the Virginia Company.
December 26, 1811 Sixty-eight people out of a crowd of 598 perish while trying to escape a fire at the Richmond Theater. Many prominent citizens, including Virginia governor George W. Smith, were among the dead.
December 28, 1856 Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the eighth Virginia-born president, is born in Staunton. He served as president of Princeton University and as governor of New Jersey before being elected U.S. president.
December 31, 1862 President Lincoln approves the act of admission for West Virginia to join the Union, formally separating the new state from Virginia. This was to take effect upon the insertion into the state constitution of a clause that would provide for gradual emancipation of slaves.