This Day in History

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2003

In Alaska

• In 1943, the city of Pelican, on Chichagof Island in Southeast Alaska, was incorporated.

• In 1946, the first mass air movement of Army families to Alaska, the Pan American "Nursery Special," took off from Seattle, carrying nine Army wives and 11 children to join their families in Fairbanks.

• In 1968, the state began its Open To Entry program, allowing the staking of up to five acres of land.

• In 1969, a fire of undetermined origin destroyed a major portion of the White Pass & Yukon Route's railroad repair facilities in Skagway.

• In 1979, the Department of Public Safety began a roundup of exotic pets whose owners did not have a permit to keep them. There were fears of diseases that exotic species might pass on to indigenous Alaskan species. An arsonist set fire to Bobby McGee's Restaurant, causing $3 million damages in the then-worst arson fire in Anchorage's history.

In the nation

• In 1928, the German dirigible "Graf Zeppelin" landed in Lakehurst, N.J., completing its first commercial flight across the Atlantic.

• In 1937, the Ernest Hemingway novel "To Have and Have Not" was first published.

• In 1966, President Johnson signed a bill creating the Department of Transportation.

• In 1969, peace demonstrators staged activities across the country, including a candlelight march around the White House, as part of a moratorium against the Vietnam War.

• In 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.

• In 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, 52-48.

In the world

• In 1917, Mata Hari, a Dutch dancer who had spied for the Germans, was executed by a French firing squad outside Paris.

• In 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed.

• In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.

• In 1990, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was named the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

• In 1993, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end apartheid.

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