Today In History...

In 1784 In a letter to his daughter, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the eagle's choice as the symbol of America and described his own preference: the turkey.

In 1788 The first European settlers in Australia, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, landed in present-day Sydney. (The party included 700 convicts from England.)

In 1802 Congress passed an act calling for a library within the U.S. Capitol.

In 1837 Michigan became the 26th U.S. state.

In 1841 Hong Kong proclaimed a sovereign territory of Britain.

In 1861 Louisiana became the 6th state to secede from the Union.

In 1870 Virginia rejoined the Union.

In 1871 The American income tax was repealed.

In 1875 The first electric dental drill was patented.

In 1939 Principle photography began for David O. Selznick's movie version of "Gone With The Wind."

In 1942 The first American expeditionary force to arrive in Europe during World War II went ashore in Northern Ireland.

In 1950 India became a republic ceasing to be a British dominion as Rajendra Prasad took office.

In 1954 Groundbreaking began at Disneyland.

In 1961 J.G. Travell became the first woman physician to the President.

In 1962 The U.S. launched Ranger III to land scientific instruments on the moon, but the probe missed the target by some 22,000 miles.

In 1972 Vesna Vulovik set the record for surviving the most prolonged fall without a parachute, 33,000 feet when a DC-9 exploded over Czechoslovakia.

In 1979 Former U.S. vice-president Nelson A. Rockefeller died at age 70.

In 1981 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states may allow T.V. cameras to cover criminal court trials.

In 1983 Paul "Bear" Bryant, one of the winningest coaches in college football history, died in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at age 69.

In 1984 The one-minute ice cream-eating record was set at 3 lbs, 6 oz.

In 1985 Pope John Paul II arrived in Caracas, Venezuela, to begin a tour of South America.

In 1986 The Chicago Bears defeated the New England Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX.

In 1986 Voyager II relays information about the rings and moons of Uranus.

In 1987 President Reagan condemned the kidnappings of three Americans in west Beirut two days earlier.

In 1988 A published study reported aspirin cuts the risk of heart disease.

In 1988 Australians celebrated the 200th anniversary of their country as a grand parade of tall ships sailed in Sydney Harbor, re-enacting the voyage of the first European settlers.

In 1989 Virginia Lt. Governor L. Douglas Wilder launched his successful campaign to become the first elected black governor of a U.S.state.

In 1990 Attorneys for deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega challenged the jurisdiction of the U.S. court system to try their client on drug-trafficking charges.

In 1992 The Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI, defeating the Buffalo Bills, 37-24.

In 1992 Actor, Jose Ferrer died in Coral Gables, Florida.

In 1992 Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary acknowledged "causing pain in my marriage" on CBS's "60 Minutes."

In 1993 Former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel was elected President of the new Czech Republic.

In 1993 U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali called on the Security Council to take "whatever measures are necessary" to compel Israel to readmit 400 deported Palestinians.

In 1994 During a visit to Sydney, Australia, by Britain's Prince Charles, a young man lunged at the prince, firing two blank shots from a starter's pistol.

In 1994 Russian President Boris Yeltsin accepted the resignation of Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov, who warned of economic collapse and social unrest.

In 1995 The U.S. House endorsed a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution designed to eliminate chronic federal deficits.

In 1996 First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton testified in secret to a grand jury investigating her link to the Whitewater probe.

In 1996 Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz was shot and killed at the suburban Philadelphia estate of John E. du Pont; du Pont surrenders 48 hours later.

In 1997 The Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots, 35-21, in Super Bowl XXXI.

In 1998 President Clinton denied having an affair with a White House intern, telling reporters, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

In 1998 Northwest and Continental airlines merged routes.

In 1999 President Clinton welcomed Pope John Paul II in St. Louis as the pontiff began his seventh pilgrimage to the U.S.

In 1999 King Hussein turned over the temporary operation of Jordan to his eldest son and returned to the U.S. for urgent medical care.

In 2002 Jennifer Capriati made the most remarkable comeback in a Grand Slam final to overcome Martina Hingis and defend her Australian Open title.

In 2003 The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their first NFL championship, routing the Oakland Raiders, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII.

In 2004 Lionel Tate, the Florida teen who'd killed a 6-year-old playmate and became the youngest defendant in the U.S. to receive life is released after three years behind bars.

In 2005 Condoleezza Rice was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State, becoming the first African American woman to hold the post.

In 2008 Christian Brando (son of the late Marlon Brando) died in Los Angeles. He was 49.

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