This Day in History

Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2008

In Alaska, in the Nation and the World

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.

• 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 oil 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 1907, Indiana's General Assembly passed America's first involuntary sterilization law, one aimed at "confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists" in state custody.

• In 1916, Mexican raiders under the command of Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, N.M., killing 18 Americans.

• In 1933, Congress, called into special session by President Franklin D. 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 1983, Margaret Heckler was sworn in as secretary of Health and Human Services, the same day Anne M. Burford resigned as head of the embattled Environmental Protection Agency.

• 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 ended up serving nearly two years of a two-and-a-half year sentence; Peterson served one-and-a-half years of a two-year sentence.)

• In 2003, the film musical "Chicago" tap-danced away with a haul of movie honors at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, including best ensemble cast and the lead-actress prize for star Renee Zellweger.

• In 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller acknowledged the FBI improperly used the Patriot Act to secretly pry out personal information about Americans; they apologized and vowed to prevent further illegal intrusions.

In the world

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

• In 1932, Eamon de Valera was elected the head of government of the Irish Free State.

• In 1945, during World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan, resulting in an estimated 100,000 deaths.

• In 2003, Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a seat in the Turkish parliament, clearing way for him to become prime minister.

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