This Day in History

Posted: Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In Alaska

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• 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 on the first official airmail flight from Seattle.

• In 1949, a Bureau of Reclamation report claimed that since 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 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 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 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 1996, the Clinton administration announced it would veto the re-election of U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Westinghouse Electric agreed to buy Infinity Broadcasting for $3.9 billion.

• In 2001, Houston resident Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family bathtub, then called police. (Yates was later convicted of murder, but had her conviction overturned; she faces a retrial.) Billy Collins was named the 11th U.S. poet laureate.

In the world

• In 1756, a group of British soldiers was imprisoned in India in a suffocating cell that gained notoriety as the "Black Hole of Calcutta"; most died. (The exact circumstances of this incident - such as the number of prisoners, originally put at 146 - are a matter of historical dispute.)

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

• In 1979, ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart was shot to death in Managua, Nicaragua, by a member of President Anastasio Somoza's national guard.

• In 2001, American Lori Berenson was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Peruvian court for collaborating with leftist guerrillas.

• In 2005, during a joint news conference with European leaders, President Bush said he was determined to complete the mission of establishing democracy in Iraq, because the world would be a better place for it. A suicide car bomber killed at least 15 traffic policemen outside police headquarters in Irbil, Iraq. Kuwait's first female Cabinet member (Massouma al-Mubarak) took the oath of office over the shouts of Muslim fundamentalist and tribal lawmakers opposed to women in politics.

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