This Day in History

Posted: Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In Alaska

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

• In 1949, 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 1777, Gen. George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, Pa., to camp for the winter.

• In 1813, British forces captured Fort Niagara during the War of 1812.

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

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

• In 1986, Lawrence E. Walsh was appointed independent counsel to investigate the Iran-Contra affair.

• In 1998, President Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House for perjury and obstruction of justice (he was later acquitted by the Senate).

• In 1996, the television industry unveiled a plan to rate programs using tags such as "TV-G," "TV-Y" and "TV-M." The school board of Oakland, Calif., voted to recognize Black English, also known as "Ebonics," in a decision that set off a firestorm of controversy (the board later modified its stance).

• In 2001, the fires that had burned beneath the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City for the previous three months were declared extinguished except for a few scattered hot spots.

• In 2005, a Chalk's Ocean Airways seaplane crashed off Miami Beach, Fla., killing 18 passengers and both pilots. President Bush forcefully defended a domestic spying program as an effective tool in disrupting terrorists and insisted it was not an abuse of Americans' civil liberties. A video posted by an extremist group on a Web site purportedly showed the killing of American contractor Ronald Allen Schulz. Southern California running back Reggie Bush was named The Associated Press Player of the Year.

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 1946, war broke out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launched widespread attacks against the French.

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

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

• In 2001, Argentina's president, Fernando de la Rua, decreed a state of siege as his country's economic crisis triggered violence.

• In 2005, Afghanistan's first democratically elected parliament in more than three decades convened.

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