This Day in History

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2007

In Alaska

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• In 1894, the Juneau Ferry and Navigation Co. began carrying passengers between Juneau and Douglas Island. The operation continued until the completion of the Douglas Bridge in 1935.

• In 1917, all saloons in the Territory of Alaska closed their doors at midnight under a new Alaska law.

• In 1947, the merger of Skinner and Eddy Corp. and the Alaska Steamship Co. was announced.

• In 1975, U.S. District Judge James Von der Heydt banned large-scale timber cutting throughout Alaska.

In the nation

• In 1862, President Lincoln signed an act paving the way for West Virginia statehood.

• In 1877, President and Mrs. Hayes celebrated their silver anniversary (actually, a day late) by re-enacting their wedding ceremony in the White House.

• In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, N.J.

• In 1946, President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

• In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.

• In 1978, Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.

• In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas.

• In 1997, Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Pianist Floyd Cramer died in Nashville, Tenn., at age 64.

• In 2002, emerging from holiday seclusion at his Texas ranch, President Bush told reporters an attack by Saddam Hussein or a terrorist ally "would cripple our economy."

• In 2006, the death toll for Americans killed in the Iraq war reached 3,000.

In the world

• In 1775, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.

• In 1857, Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.

• In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)

• In 1987, Robert Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe's first executive president.

• In 1997, in Sorocaba, Brazil, riot troops stormed a prison where inmates were holding hundreds of hostages, quickly ending a three-day rebellion without any deaths.

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