This Day in History

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In Alaska

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

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

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

• In 1957, Meredith Willson's musical play "The Music Man," starring Robert Preston as charming con man Harold Hill, opened on Broadway.

• 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 1997, in Milwaukee, postal clerk Anthony Deculit killed a co-worker he'd feuded with, wounded a supervisor and injured another worker before taking his own life. James Cameron's epic film "Titanic," the highest-grossing film ever made, opened in U.S. theaters.

• 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 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.

In the world

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

• 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 1997, a SilkAir Boeing 737-300 plunged from the sky, crashing into an Indonesian river and killing all 104 people aboard.

• In 2002, Roh Moo-hyun won South Korea's presidential election.

• In 2006, a Libyan court convicted five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor of deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV and sentenced them to death. (The six later had their death sentences commuted and were transferred to Bulgaria, where they were pardoned and set free.)

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