This Day in History

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2003

In Alaska

• In 1929, Alaska Washington Airways initiated fly-in fishing service by taking a group to Hasselborg Lake on Admiralty Island.

• In 1939, a fire consumed the Haines Power Plant, the post office, and a theater. The Chilkoot Barracks provided emergency electric power to Haines.

In the nation

• In 1861, the Congress of the Confederate States began holding sessions in Richmond, Va.

• In 1881, Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the Battle of the Little Big Horn, surrendered to federal troops.

• In 1942, the first detachment of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, later known as WACs, began basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

• In 1944, President Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented fourth term of office at the Democratic convention in Chicago.

• In 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon as they stepped out of their lunar module.

• In 1976, America's Viking 1 robot spacecraft made a successful, first-ever landing on Mars.

• In 1977, a flash flood hit Johnstown, Pa., killing 80 people and causing $350 million worth of damage.

• In 1990, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, one of the court's most liberal voices, announced he was stepping down.

• In 1993, White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster Jr. was found shot to death in a park near Washington, D.C., a suicide. A day after firing William Sessions as FBI director, President Clinton named federal judge Louis Freeh to replace him.

• In 1998, a smoky fire broke out aboard the cruise ship Ecstasy just two miles from the Florida shore, forcing the ship's return to port.

In the world

• In 1810, Colombia declared independence from Spain.

• In 1871, British Columbia became a Canadian province.

• In 1944, an attempt by a group of German officials to assassinate Adolf Hitler with a bomb failed; the explosion at Hitler's Rastenburg headquarters only wounded the Nazi leader.

• In 1998, Russia won an $11.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help avert the devaluation of its currency.

• In 2002, 29 people died in a blaze started by bartenders who were doing tricks with fire at Utopia, an unlicensed night club in Lima, Peru.

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