This Day in History

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2007

In Alaska

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• In 1943, the city of Pelican 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 eleven children to join their families in Fairbanks.

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

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

• In 1970, Metlakatla opened its first banking office.

• 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 that diseases 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 1860, 11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, N.Y., wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard.

• In 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson.

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

• 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 1997, British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green twice drove a jet-powered car in the Nevada desert faster than the speed of sound, officially shattering the world's land-speed record. The Cleveland Indians won the American League championship, defeating the Baltimore Orioles 1-0 in Game 6.

• In 2002, ImClone Systems founder Sam Waksal pleaded guilty in New York in the biotech company's insider trading scandal. (He was later sentenced to more than seven years in prison.)

• In 2003, 11 people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. (The ferry's pilot, who'd blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.)

• In 2006, a strong earthquake struck the Big Island of Hawaii, damaging buildings and roads. Three members of Duke University's lacrosse team appeared on CBS' "60 Minutes" to deny raping a woman who had been hired to perform as a stripper (Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans were later exonerated). Pope Benedict XVI named four new saints.

In the world

• In 1917, Dutch dancer Mata Hari, convicted of spying for the Germans, was executed by a French firing squad outside Paris.

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

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

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

• In 1964, it was announced that Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev had been removed from office.

• In 1997, NASA's plutonium-powered Cassini spacecraft rocketed flawlessly toward Saturn. Six scientists, three of them American, won Nobel Prizes in chemistry and physics for cellular and atomic research.

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