This Day in History

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2008

In Alaska, in the Nation and the World

In Alaska

• In 1918, the Wilson & Sylvester Sawmill at Wrangell was destroyed by fire.

• In 1945, a fire destroyed the Shepard Point Packing Co. cannery near Cordova.

• In 1959, 56 lobbyists were registered in Juneau for the first state legislative session. A "long session" of 70 days was predicted.

• In 1960, John Rader announced his resignation as the first attorney general of the state of Alaska.

In the nation

• In 1937, some 300 people, mostly children, were killed in a gas explosion at a school in New London, Texas.

• In 1959, President Eisenhower signed the Hawaii statehood bill. (Hawaii became a state on Aug. 21, 1959.)

• In 1998, Julie Hiatt Steele, a former friend of Kathleen Willey's, released a sworn affidavit undercutting Willey's claim that President Clinton had made an unwanted sexual advance toward her in 1993. (According to Steele, Willey instructed her to tell Newsweek that Willey had confided the alleged episode to her immediately after it supposedly happened; Steele said she first heard about the accusation in 1997.)

• In 2003, a jury in Corpus Christi, Texas, cleared Bayer Corp. of liability in a $560 million lawsuit that accused the pharmaceutical giant of ignoring research linking the cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol to dozens of deaths. In Salt Lake City, Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee were charged with aggravated kidnapping, sexual assault and burglary in the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was found with them six days earlier. (Mitchell and Barzee have been found incompetent to stand trial.) Olympic gold medal figure skater Sarah Hughes won the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete.

In the world

• In 1766, Britain repealed the Stamp Act of 1765.

• In 1922, Mohandas K. Gandhi was sentenced in India to six years' imprisonment for civil disobedience. (He was released after serving two years.)

• In 1938, Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas nationalized his country's petroleum reserves and took control of foreign-owned oil facilities.

• In 1940, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met at the Brenner Pass, where the Italian dictator agreed to join Germany's war against France and Britain.

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