This Day in History

Posted: Friday, April 16, 2004

In Alaska

• In 1911, Mount Wrangell erupted with fire and smoke that could be seen for many miles.

• In 1917, Joseph A. McLean, Juneau lawyer and member of the Territorial Legislature, was born in Juneau.

• In 1959, the first session of the first Alaska Legislature adjourned at 9:54 p.m. Unification of the "home rule" cities of Juneau and Douglas and the greater Juneau Borough was flatly rejected by voters.

In the nation

• In 1789, President-elect Washington left Mount Vernon, Va., for his inauguration in New York.

• In 1862, a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia became law.

• In 1935, the radio comedy program "Fibber McGee and Molly" premiered on the NBC Blue Network.

• In 1945, in his first speech to Congress, President Truman pledged to carry out the war and peace policies of his late predecessor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

• In 1947, the French ship Grandcamp blew up at the harbor in Texas City, Texas; another ship, the Highflyer, exploded the following day. The blasts and resulting fires killed 576 people. Financier and presidential confidant Bernard M. Baruch said in a speech at the South Carolina statehouse: "Let us not be deceived - we are today in the midst of a cold war."

• In 1962, Walter Cronkite succeeded Douglas Edwards as anchorman of "The CBS Evening News."

• In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon.

• In 1994, Ralph Ellison, author of "Invisible Man," died in New York at age 80.

• In 1999, President Clinton defended NATO airstrikes against Serbian targets during visits to Michigan and Massachusetts, saying U.S. involvement in Kosovo was a moral imperative. Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement from hockey.

In the world

• In 1879, Saint Bernadette, who had described seeing visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, died in Nevers, France.

• In 1917, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia after years of exile.

• In 1945, U.S. troops reached Nuremberg, Germany, during World War II.

• In 1994, Bosnian Serbs downed a British Sea Harrier jet near Gorazde; the pilot ejected, and was rescued by Bosnian government troops.

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