This Day in History

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2007

In Alaska

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• In 1914, construction of a government railroad in Alaska was approved by President Woodrow Wilson.

• In 1969, an atomic scientist suggested that the government explore the idea of using nuclear blasts to create an artificial island in the Arctic Ocean as an aid to tap vast oil deposits east of Point Barrow.

• In 1979, Rick Swenson won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to become the first two-time winner.

• In 2002, Martin Buser captured his fourth victory in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

In the nation

• In 1933, President Roosevelt delivered the first of his radio "fireside chats," telling Americans what was being done to deal with the nation's economic crisis.

• In 1864, Ulysses S. Grant became commander in chief of the Union armies in the Civil War.

• In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Guides, which later became the Girl Scouts of America.

• In 1947, President Truman established what became known as the "Truman Doctrine" to help Greece and Turkey resist Communism.

• In 1951, "Dennis the Menace," created by cartoonist Hank Ketcham, made its syndicated debut in 16 newspapers.

• In 1959, the U.S. Congress voted Hawaii in as the 50th state in the Union.

• In 1980, a Chicago jury found John Wayne Gacy Jr. guilty of the murders of 33 men and boys. (The next day, Gacy was sentenced to death; after years on death row, he was executed in May 1994.)

• In 1987, the musical play "Les Miserables" opened on Broadway.

• In 1997, authorities in Los Angeles arrested Mikhail Markhasev as a suspect in the shooting death of Bill Cosby's son, Ennis. (Markhasev, who later admitted his guilt, is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.)

• In 2002, Houston homemaker Andrea Yates was convicted of murder in the drowning deaths of her five children in the family bathtub. (Yates was later retried and found not guilty by reason of insanity.) Homeland security chief Tom Ridge announced that America was at yellow alert as he unveiled a color-coded system for terror warnings.

In the world

• In 1664, England's King Charles II granted land in the New World known as New Netherland to his brother James, the Duke of York.

• In 1857, the opera "Simon Boccanegra," by Giuseppe Verdi, premiered in Venice, Italy.

• In 1930, Indian political and spiritual leader Mohandas K. Gandhi began a 200-mile march to protest a British tax on salt.

• In 1938, the Anschluss took place as German troops entered Austria.

• In 2002, the U.N. Security Council approved a U.S.-sponsored resolution endorsing a Palestinian state for the first time. The space shuttle Columbia returned to Earth, ending the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission.

• In 2006, bombers blew apart two markets in a Baghdad Shiite slum, killing nearly 60 people and wounding more than 200. A roadside bomb killed four U.S. troops passing by in an armored vehicle in eastern Afghanistan.

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