This day in History

Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2007

In Alaska

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• In 1901, the city of Nome was incorporated as a first class municipality.

• In 1918, Thomas Riggs, Jr. took office as the third governor of the Territory of Alaska.

• In 1960, two nine-year old boys safely escaped from a drifting ice floe in Cook Inlet after a hair-raising ride on an outgoing tide.

• In 1976, Nome edged out Bethel to win the ninth annual Native Youth Olympics in Anchorage.

In the nation

• In 1861, the American Civil War began as Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

• In 1862, Union volunteers led by James J. Andrews stole a Confederate train near Marietta, Ga., but were later caught. (This episode inspired the classic Buster Keaton silent comedy "The General.")

• In 1877, the catcher's mask was first used in a baseball game, by James Tyng of Harvard in a game against the Lynn Live Oaks.

• In 1934, "Tender Is the Night," by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was first published in book form by Charles Scribner's Sons (it had been serialized in Scribner's Magazine).

• In 1955, the Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.

• In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight.

• In 1983, Chicagoans went to the polls to elect Harold Washington the city's first black mayor.

• In 2002, Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law ignored growing demands for his resignation because of the sex scandal engulfing the church. (Law ended up resigning in December 2002.) Secretary of State Colin Powell's trip to the Middle East was marred by a suicide bombing in Jerusalem that claimed six victims; the White House put on hold Powell's scheduled meeting with Yasser Arafat. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez resigned under pressure from the country's divided military. (However, he was returned to office two days later.)

• In 2006, jurors in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial listened to a recording of terrified shouts and cries in the cockpit as desperate passengers twice charged panicked hijackers during the final half hour of doomed United Flight 93 on Sept. 11.

In the world

• In 1606, England's King James I decreed the design of the original Union Flag, which combined the flags of England and Scotland.

• In 1776, North Carolina's Fourth Provincial Congress adopted the Halifax Resolves, which authorized the colony's delegates to the Continental Congress to support independence from Britain.

• In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth once before making a safe landing.

• In 1997, undaunted by a cache of explosives found on his travel route, Pope John Paul II plunged into a peace mission to Sarajevo, wading into crowds and declaring, "Never again war."

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