This Day in History

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2003

In Alaska

• In 1960, a fire destroyed the Lowe Trading Post in Dillingham, with damages estimated at $200,000.

• In 1949, a fire destroyed the Father Duncan Memorial Church in Metlakatla. It was one of the largest churches in Alaska.

• In 1973, a federal district judge released $130 million, the first cash payment under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and ordered hearings on creating a 13th regional Native corporation.

In the nation

• In 1732, Benjamin Franklin began publishing "Poor Richard's Almanac."

• In 1776, Thomas Paine published his first "American Crisis" essay.

• In 1777, Gen. George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, Pa., to camp for the winter.

• In 1907, 239 workers died in a coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pa.

• In 1957, Meredith Willson's musical play "The Music Man" opened on Broadway.

• In 1972, Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific, winding up the Apollo program of manned lunar landings.

• In 1974, Nelson A. Rockefeller was sworn in as the 41st vice president of the United States.

• In 1978, jury selection began in Salem, Ore., in the case of John J. Rideout, accused of raping his wife, Greta. (Rideout was acquitted; the couple divorced after the trial.)

• In 1998, President Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House for perjury and obstruction of justice (he was later acquitted by the Senate). Two days after his confession of marital infidelity, Bob Livingston told the House he wouldn't serve as its next speaker. President Clinton halted airstrikes against Iraq after a fourth day of attacks.

• In 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell declared Iraq in "material breach" of a U.N. disarmament resolution. After a prosecutor cited new DNA evidence, a judge in New York threw out the convictions of five young men in a 1989 attack on a Central Park jogger who had been raped and left for dead. Roh Moo-hyun won South Korea's presidential election.

In the world

• In 1843, "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens, was first published in England.

• In 1932, the British Broadcasting Corporation began transmitting overseas with its Empire Service to Australia.

• In 1986, the Soviet Union announced it had freed dissident Andrei Sakharov from internal exile, and pardoned his wife, Yelena Bonner.

• In 1993, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and senior PLO officials ended two days of closed-door talks in Oslo, Norway, in which they sought to break a deadlock over Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories.

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