This Day in History

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2007

In Alaska

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• In 1949, Ketchikan residents were advised to boil their water because of bacterial contamination caused by early September's heavy rains.

• In 1959, Anchorage's five-digit telephone number system changed to the metropolitan seven-digit system.

• In 1979, The Department of Immigration announced that only 4,365 vehicles entered Alaska in August, the lowest number since record-keeping began in 1966.

In the nation

• In 1881, Chester Arthur was sworn in as the 21st president of the United States, succeeding the assassinated James Garfield.

• In 1957, "M Squad," starring Lee Marvin, premiered on NBC-TV.

• In 1962, black student James Meredith was blocked from enrolling at the University of Mississippi by Gov. Ross R. Barnett. (Meredith was later admitted.)

• In 1973, in their so-called "battle of the sexes," tennis star Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome.

• In 1997, President Bill Clinton's attorneys insisted no laws were broken as it was disclosed that Attorney General Janet Reno had taken a first step toward seeking a special prosecutor to investigate the president's 1996 fund-raising activities.

• In 2002, President Bush appealed to a reluctant Russian President Vladimir Putin to back a new U.N. resolution that would threaten Iraq with war if it did not disarm; Russian officials indicated there might be room for compromise.

In the world

• In 1519, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew set out from Spain on five ships on a voyage to find a western passage to the Spice Islands in Indonesia. (Magellan was killed en route, but one of his ships eventually circled the world.)

• In 1870, Italian troops took control of the Papal States, leading to the unification of Italy.

• In 1967, the Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 was christened by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in Clydebank, Scotland.

• In 1984, a suicide car bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy annex in north Beirut, killing a dozen people.

• In 2006, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez repeatedly referred to President Bush as "the devil" during a speech to the United Nations. The African Union announced it would extend the mandate of a peacekeeping force in Darfur. Nationalist Shinzo Abe became head of Japan's ruling party by a landslide.

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