This Day in History

Posted: Monday, June 20, 2005

In Alaska

• In 1867, the Alaska Purchase Treaty was proclaimed by President Andrew Johnson.

• In 1884, the town of Bethel was named by Moravian missionaries who were establishing a mission there.

• In 1940, the Pan American Airways flying boat Alaska Clipper arrived at Auke Bay near Juneau on the first official airmail flight from Seattle.

• In 1949, a Bureau of Reclamation report claimed that because U.S. and Canadian forests were dwindling quickly, Alaska's rich coastal forests should be developed. According to the report, they were capable of producing 100 million board feet annually - now and forever.

• In 1959, the University of Alaska announced a $100,000 contract from the Atomic Energy Commission to conduct a biological study of the Ogotorok region of Alaska as part of the AEC's proposed harbor excavation project. The harbor was to be excavated using nuclear explosives.

• In 1969, British Columbia Premier W.A.C. Bennett said, "It is vitally important to the Western world to develop and populate Alaska, and paving the Alaska Highway will achieve both ends."

• In 1974, an early morning fire consumed the seventh floor of Juneau's Baranof Hotel. The most seriously injured was state Sen. John Rader, who broke an arm and a leg escaping by a bedsheet.

• In 1977, at 10:05 a.m., oil began to flow in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, 48 inches in diameter and 798 miles long. It reached the Valdez tanker terminal at 11:02 p.m. on July 28, 1977, 38 days later.

In the nation

• In 1782, Congress approved the Great Seal of the United States.

• In 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.

• In 1893, a jury in New Bedford, Mass., found Lizzie Borden innocent of the ax murders of her father and stepmother.

• In 1943, race-related rioting erupted in Detroit; federal troops were sent in two days later to quell the violence that resulted in more than 30 deaths.

• In 1947, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was shot dead at the Beverly Hills, Calif., mansion of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, apparently at the order of mob associates.

• In 1963, the United States and Soviet Union signed an agreement to set up a "hot line" between the two superpowers.

• In 1967, boxer Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. (Ali's conviction was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court).

• In 1975, the Steven Spielberg shark thriller "Jaws" was first released.

• In 1995, U.S. Air Force Captain Jim Wang, a radar officer, was cleared of wrongdoing in a friendly fire attack on two U.S. helicopters over northern Iraq in 1994 that resulted in 26 deaths.

• In 2000, after a furious last-minute lobbying blitz by the Clinton administration, the Senate voted 57-42 to approve legislation making it easier for federal prosecutors to try hate crimes, attaching the measure to a defense authorization bill. (The House stripped the hate crimes provision from the defense bill the following October.)

In the world

• In 1756, in India, a group of British soldiers was imprisoned in a suffocating cell that gained notoriety as the "Black Hole of Calcutta"; most died.

• In 1837, Queen Victoria acceded to the British throne following the death of her uncle, King William IV.

• In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, the U.S. cruiser Charleston captured the Spanish-ruled island of Guam.

• In 2004, the Arab satellite TV network Al-Jazeera aired a videotape from al-Qaida-linked militants showing a South Korean hostage begging for his life and pleading with his government to withdraw troops from Iraq.

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