This Day in History

Posted: Sunday, December 05, 2004

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 the State 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 1782, the first native U.S. president, Martin Van Buren, was born in Kinderhook, N.Y.

• 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 U.S. House of Representatives.

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

• In 1932, German physicist Albert Einstein was granted a visa, making it possible for 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 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged to form the AFL-CIO under its first president, George Meany.

• In 1979, feminist Sonia Johnson was formally excommunicated by the Mormon Church because of her outspoken support for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

• In 1991, Richard Speck, who'd murdered eight student nurses in Chicago in 1966, died in prison a day short of his 50th birthday.

• In 1994, jubilant Republicans chose Newt Gingrich to be the first GOP House speaker in four decades.

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