This Day in History

Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2003

In Alaska

• In 1911, A fire destroyed a dozen buildings in the business district of Douglas.

• In 1959, The Air Force launched an investigation into reports of the Explorer satellite exploding over Alaska. (It was either that or a UFO.)

• In 1959, The Detroit 59ers resumed their trip to Alaska from Michigan, after getting new tires in Minnesota.

• In 1969, The University of Alaska received a $10,000 grant to collect and analyze Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut languages.

• In 1975, Work began on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

In the nation

• In 1862, during the Civil War, the ironclads Monitor and Virginia (formerly Merrimac) clashed for five hours to a draw at Hampton Roads, Va.

• In 1933, Congress, called into special session by President Roosevelt, began its "hundred days" of enacting New Deal legislation.

• In 1954, CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow critically reviewed Wisconsin Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy's anti-Communism campaign on "See It Now."

• In 1977, about a dozen armed Hanafi Muslims invaded three buildings in Washington D.C., killing one person and taking more than 130 hostages. The siege ended two days later.

• In 1990, Dr. Antonia Novello was sworn in as surgeon general, becoming the first woman and the first Hispanic to hold the job.

• In 1993, Janet Reno sailed through her confirmation hearing on her way to becoming the nation's first female attorney general. Rodney King testified at the federal trial of four Los Angeles police officers accused of violating his civil rights, saying he'd been "attacked" by the defendants.

• In 1998, In a case pitting former high school sweethearts against each other, Brian Peterson pleaded guilty in Wilmington, Del., to manslaughter in the death of his newborn son in a Newark motel and agreed to testify against the mother, Amy Grossberg. (A month later, Grossberg also pleaded guilty to manslaughter; she received 2 1/2 years in prison; Peterson, 2 years.)

• In 2002, The space shuttle Columbia's astronauts released the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit after five days of repairs. Melissa Gilbert was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, defeating challenger Valerie Harper.

In the world

• In 1661, Cardinal Jules Mazarin, the chief minister of France, died, leaving King Louis XIV in full control.

• In 1796, the future emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, married Josephine de Beauharnais. (The couple divorced in 1809.)

• In 1916, Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, N.M., killing more than a dozen people.

• In 1945, during World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan.

• In 1992, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin died in Tel Aviv at age 78.

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