Today In History...

In 1699 Peter the Great orders the Russian New Year to be changed from September 1 to January 1.

In 1790 The first successful U.S. cotton mill opens at Pawtucket, RI.

In 1803 The Louisiana Purchase is completed as ownership of the territory is formally transferred from France to the United States during ceremonies in New Orleans. The U.S. paid the French $15 million for the land doubling the size of the country.

In 1820 Missouri imposes a $1 bachelor tax on unmarried men between the ages of 21 and 50.

In 1860 South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the union.

In 1864 Confederate forces evacuate Savannah, Georgia, as Union General William T. Sherman continued his "March to the Sea."

In 1879 Thomas A. Edison privately demonstrates the incandescent light at Menlo Park, New Jersey.

In 1922 The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is formed.

In 1945 The Office of Price Administration announces the end of tire rationing.

In 1963 The Berlin Wall opens for the first time to West Berliners, who were allowed one-day visits to relatives in the eastern sector for the holidays.

In 1968 Author John Steinbeck dies in New York at age 66.

In 1968 The first victims of the San Francisco "Zodiac" killer are shot to death inside a parked car.

In 1976 Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley dies at age 74.

In 1976 Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin resigns.

In 1977 The first space walk is made by G. Grechko from Salyut.

In 1978 Former White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman is released from prison after 18 months for his role in the Watergate coverup.

In 1980 The Soviet Union confirms that former Premier Alexei N. Kosygin had died two days earlier at age 76.

In 1981 Communist-ruled Poland's ambassador to Washington, Romuald Spaskowski defects after martial law is declared in Poland.

In 1983 PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and 4,000 guerrilla loyalists flee their stronghold in Tripoli, Lebanon, aboard five Greek ships, driven out by Syrian-backed Palestinian rebels.

In 1984 The defense minister of the Soviet Union, Dmitri F. Ustinov, dies at age 76; he was succeeded by Marshal Sergei L. Sokolov.

In 1985 A 35-hour hostage ordeal in Nantes, France, comes to an end as three gunmen who had seized a courtroom during a robbery trial surrender unconditionally and release the last of their captives.

In 1986 Some 30,000 Chinese students marched in Shanghai demanding freedom and democracy.

In 1987 The worst-ever peacetime shipping disaster occurs as the Dona Paz, a Philippine passenger ship, collides with the tanker Vector off Mindoro island killing over 3,000.

In 1988 ABC's Max Robinson, the first black network news anchor, dies at age 49.

In 1988 The International Committee of the Red Cross suspends operations in Lebanon after receiving death threats.

In 1989 The U.S. launches Operation Just Cause, sending troops into Panama to topple the government of General Manuel Noriega.

In 1990 Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze shocks Soviet lawmakers by announcing his resignation, warning that "dictatorship is coming."

In 1991 New York Governor Mario Cuomo announces he would not be a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In 1991 Robert Bardo, the obsessed fan who'd stalked actress Rebecca Schaeffer before killing her, is sentenced to life in prison in Los Angeles without the possibility of parole.

In 1992 U.S. Marines and Belgian paratroopers in Somalia take control of Kismayu's port and airport; the first truck convoy in more than a month reached the starving inland town of Baidoa.

In 1993 Real estate developer Donald Trump marries Marla Maples in a brief ceremony in the grand ballroom of Trump's Plaza Hotel in New York. (The couple separated in 1997.)

In 1993 Alina Fernandez Revuelta, a daughter of Cuban President Fidel Castro, flies to Spain, where she was granted political asylum by the U.S. Embassy.

In 1994 Former President Jimmy Carter succeeds in getting Bosnia's warring factions to agree to a temporary cease-fire.

In 1994 Marcelino Corniel, a homeless man, is shot and killed by White House security officers as he brandished a knife near the execution mansion.

In 1994 Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk dies in Athens, GA, at age 85.

In 1995 An American Airlines Boeing 757 en route to Cali, Colombia, crashes into a mountain, killing all but four of the 163 people aboard.

In 1996 President Clinton selects Federico Pena as energy secretary, Rodney Slater as transportation secretary, Andrew Cuomo as housing secretary and Alexis Herman as labor secretary.

In 1996 A judge in Orange County, CA, gives O.J. Simpson full custody of his young children.

In 1996 Astronomer Carl Sagan dies in Seattle at age 62.

In 1997 President Nelson Mandela steps down as leader of South Africa's governing African National Congress.

In 1998 Nkem Chukwu gives birth in Houston to five girls and two boys, 12 days after giving birth to another child, a girl; The tiniest of the babies died a week later.

In 1999 The Vermont Supreme Court rules that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded heterosexual couples.

In 2000 Alcoa chairman Paul O'Neill is chosen to be treasury secretary in Bush administration.

In 2002 Trent Lott resigns as Senate Republican leader two weeks after  igniting a political firestorm with racially charged remarks.

In 2003 Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, paid a surprise visit to Spanish soldiers in Iraq.

In 2009 Actress Brittany Murphy, 32, known for her roles in films such as "Clueless" and "8 Mile," died after suffering a cardiac arrest.


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