This Day in History

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In Alaska

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• 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 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 U.S. House of Representatives.

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

• In 1933, Prohibition ended 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 1994, Republicans chose Newt Gingrich to be the first GOP speaker of the House in four decades.

• In 2002, Strom Thurmond, the oldest and longest-serving senator in history, celebrated his 100th birthday on Capitol Hill. (It was at this gathering that Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, in toasting Thurmond, seemed to express nostalgia for Thurmond's segregationist past; the resulting firestorm prompted Lott to resign his leadership position.) In Kansas City, Mo., a pharmacist who had diluted chemotherapy drugs given to thousands of cancer patients was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

• In 2006, Robert Gates won speedy and unanimous approval from the Senate Armed Services Committee to be secretary of defense. New York became the first city in the nation to ban artery-clogging trans fats at restaurants.

In the world

• In 1932, German physicist Albert Einstein was granted a visa, making it possible for him to travel to the United States.

• In 1997, the space shuttle Columbia returned from a 16-day mission that had been marred by the bungled release of a satellite. The World Trade Organization rejected American claims that the Fuji film company had conspired with the Japanese government to keep Eastman Kodak products out of Japan.

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