This Day in History

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2002

In Alaska

• In 1905, Roald Amundsen, en route through the Northwest Passage, reached Eagle from Herschel Island. He left his ship, the Gjoa, in frozen ice and sledded to Eagle to telegraph his crossing.

• In 1914, the Juneau Public Library opened with 1,000 volumes.

• In 1966, Walter J. Hickel took office as the second governor of the state of Alaska.

• In 1970, William A. Egan took office again as the fourth governor of Alaska, after having been the first.

In the nation

• In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

• In 1792, George Washington was re-elected president; John Adams was re-elected vice president.

• In 1831, former President John Quincy Adams took his seat as a member of the House of Representatives.

• In 1848, President Polk triggered the Gold Rush of '49 by confirming that gold had been discovered in California.

• In 1901, movie producer Walt Disney was born in Chicago.

• In 1932, German physicist Albert Einstein was granted a visa, allowing him to travel to the United States.

• In 1933, national Prohibition came to an end as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment.

• In 1991, Richard Speck, who'd murdered eight student nurses in Chicago in 1966, died a day short of his 50th birthday while serving eight consecutive prison terms of 50 to 150 years each.

• In 1997, the space shuttle Columbia returned from a 16-day mission that had been marred by the bungled release of a satellite.

• In 2001, Escaped convict Clayton Lee Waagner, suspected of mailing anthrax hoax letters to abortion clinics, was captured near Cincinnati. The space shuttle Endeavour blasted off under heavy protection on a flight to deliver a new crew to the international space station.

In the world

• In 1791, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, Austria, at age 35.

• In 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin narrowly kept the power to appoint Cabinet ministers, defeating a constitutional amendment that would have put his team of reformers under the control of Russia's Congress.

• In 2001, Afghan leaders signed a pact in Koenigswinter, Germany, to create an interim government. Three Green Berets and six Afghan allies were killed by an errant U.S. bomb in Afghanistan. New Zealand yachtsman Peter Blake, two-time winner of the America's Cup, was slain by Brazilian pirates on the Amazon River.

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