This Day in History

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In Alaska

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• In 1914, Moore's Dock in Skagway was destroyed by fire.

• In 1932, the Alaska nonresident troll fisherman's license tax of $250 was declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court.

• In 1940, the War Department General Order No. 9 named the military reservation Fort Richardson and the airfield, Elmendorf Air Force Base.

• In 1957, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Storis returned to Juneau after her complete circuit of the North American continent.

• In 1979, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline flow was cut nearly 80 percent as a strong storm kept tankers from entering the Port of Valdez. The storm eased the next day, allowing tanker traffic to resume. The international conservation group Greenpeace joined the opposition to aerial wolf hunting in Alaska.

In the nation

• In 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

• In 1870, Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina became the first black lawmaker sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.

• In 1897, "The Katzenjammer Kids," the pioneering comic strip created by Rudolph Dirks, made its debut in the New York Journal.

• In 1906, President Roosevelt nominated Oscar Straus to be secretary of commerce and labor; Straus became the first Jewish Cabinet member.

• In 1925, the first motel - the Motel Inn - opened in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

• In 2000, a divided U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida's contested election, transforming George W. Bush into the president-elect.

• In 2002, President Bush publicly rebuked Senate Republican leader Trent Lott for his statement that appeared to embrace half-century-old segregationist politics, calling it "offensive" and "wrong." Actor Nick Nolte pleaded no contest in Malibu, Calif., to one count of driving under the influence of drugs; he was sentenced to three years' probation.

In the world

• In 1913, authorities in Florence, Italy, announced that the "Mona Lisa," stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1911, had been recovered.

• In 1937, Japanese aircraft sank the U.S. gunboat Panay on China's Yangtze River. (Japan apologized, and paid $2.2 million in reparations.)

• In 1963, Kenya gained its independence from Britain.

• In 1985, 248 American soldiers and eight crew members were killed when an Arrow Air charter crashed after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland.

• In 1997, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the international terrorist known as "Carlos the Jackal," went on trial in Paris on charges of killing two French investigators and a Lebanese national. (Ramirez was convicted, and is serving a life sentence.)

• In 2002, a defiant North Korea said it would immediately reactivate a nuclear power plant that U.S. officials suspected was being used to develop weapons.

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