This Day in History

Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In Alaska, in the Nation and the World

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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 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 A.E.C.'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 Senator 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. President Truman vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act, but had his veto overridden by Congress.

• 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 1997, the tobacco industry agreed to a massive settlement in exchange for major relief from mounting lawsuits and legal bills. The summit of industrialized nations opened in Denver, with Russia taking its place as the new eighth partner. A jury in Trenton, N.J., ordered the death penalty for Jesse K. Timmendequas, whose rape and strangling of his 7-year-old neighbor, Megan Kanka, led to the creation of "Megan's Laws" requiring that communities be notified of sex offenders in their midst.

• 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 was acquitted in a retrial.)

• In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that executing mentally retarded murderers was unconstitutionally cruel.

• In 2006, the U.S. military recovered the booby-trapped bodies of two missing soldiers in Iraq. National Guardsmen rolled into New Orleans to reinforce a depleted police department and battle a surge in violence. Dan Rather reached an agreement with CBS News to leave the network after 44 years. The Miami Heat won their first NBA title, beating the Dallas Mavericks 95-92 in Game 6.

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. (However, the exact circumstances of this incident - such as the number of prisoners, originally put at 146 - are disputed.)

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

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

• In 2006, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced the withdrawal of Japanese ground troops from Iraq.

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