Dec. 22 (UPI) -- On this date in history:
In 1785, the American Continental Navy fleet was organized, consisting of two frigates, two brigs and three schooners. Sailors were paid $8 a month.
In 1894, French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason by a military court-martial on flimsy evidence in a highly irregular trial and sentenced to life in prison for his alleged crime of passing military secrets to the Germans. Dreyfus was released from prison in 1899 and officially exonerated in 1906.
In 1944, ordered to surrender by Nazi troops who had his unit trapped south of Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge, Gen. Anthony McAuliffe of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division replied with one word: "Nuts!"
In 1984, "subway vigilante" Bernhard Goetz shot and injured four would-be holdup men on a New York City subway. He served eight months in prison for carrying an illegal weapon but was cleared of assault and attempted murder charges.
In 1986, political dissident and Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, were allowed to return to Moscow after seven years of internal exile.
In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last hard-line communist holdout against East Bloc reforms, fell from power in the face of massive demonstrations.
In 1992, all 157 people aboard Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 1103 died when the jetliner crashed, apparently following an in-flight collision with a military plane.
In 2001, American Airlines passengers and attendants overpowered a man trying to light a match to detonate powerful explosives hidden in his sneakers on a flight from Paris to Miami.
In 2005, Walmart was ordered to pay more than 100,000 California employees $172 million for depriving them of breaks to eat.
In 2006, rape charges were dropped against three former members of the Duke University lacrosse team after the alleged victim said she couldn't be sure she had been raped.
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians from openly serving in the U.S. military. The so-called "Don't Ask Don't Tell" legislation was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994.
In 2015, SpaceX successfully returned the company's Falcon 9 rocket to Earth, landing it vertically on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla., -- 10 minutes after it blasted-off for its jaunt to space and back.
In 2018, the U.S. government began a record 35-day partial shutdown after the Senate was unable to agree on a funding bill.