This Day in History

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In Alaska

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• In 1922, the Ready Bullion Mine on Douglas Island near Juneau was permanently shut down.

• In 1971, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed into law, creating 13 regional Native corporations in Alaska.

• In 1973, plans to add 31.5 million acres of Alaska land to the National Wildlife Refuge System were submitted by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Rogers Morton under provision D-2 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

In the nation

• In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

• In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect.

• In 1944, in a pair of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans (Korematsu v. United States), but also said undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained (Ex parte Endo).

• In 1957, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States, went on line. (It was taken out of service in 1982.) The World War II epic "The Bridge on the River Kwai" opened in New York.

• In 1987, Ivan F. Boesky was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a major Wall Street insider-trading scandal. (Boesky served about two years of his sentence).

• In 1997, President Clinton extended indefinitely the deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops helping with the U.N. peacekeeping effort in Bosnia. Fired California highway employee Arturo Reyes Torres shot and killed four people at a maintenance yard before being killed by police.

• In 2002, embattled Senate Republican leader Trent Lott sustained a double-barreled setback as Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee broke ranks to call for a change in party leadership and Secretary of State Colin Powell forcefully criticized Lott's controversial remarks on race. Robert Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television, was chosen as owner of the NBA's new Charlotte expansion franchise.

• In 2006, Robert Gates was sworn in as defense secretary. President Bush signed legislation to let America share its nuclear know-how and fuel with India. The NBA suspended seven players for their roles in a brawl between Denver and New York; each team was fined $500,000.

In the world

• In 1892, Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia.

• In 1940, Adolf Hitler signed a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. (Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941.)

• In 1969, Britain's Parliament permanently abolished the death penalty for murder.

• In 1972, the United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 11 days later.)

• In 1997, one-time dissident Kim Dae-jung of South Korea was elected the country's president.

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