Today in History – October 20

1572 – Eighty Years’ War: Three thousand Spanish soldiers waded through fifteen miles of water in one night to effect the relief of the city of Goes.

1740 – France, Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony refused to honor the Pragmatic Sanction, and the War of the Austrian Succession began.

1774 – The First Continental Congress passed the Articles of Association which, in part, was to “discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, all kinds of gaming, cock-fighting, exhibitions of shows , plays and other expensive diversions and entertainments.

1803 – The United States Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.

1817 – The first Mississippi “Showboat” left Nashville on its maiden voyage.

1818 – The Convention of 1818 was signed between the United States and the United Kingdom, which settled the Canada–United States border on the 49th parallel for most of its length.

1847 – 12 year old English boy William Nelman poisoned his grandpa with arsenic, which led to a famous court case.

1906 – Dr. Lee DeForest demonstrated his electrical vacuum tube (radio tube).

1910 – The hull of the RMS Olympic, sister-ship to the ill-fated RMS Titanic, launched from Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland.

1917 – US suffragette Alice Paul began a 7 month jail sentence for protesting women’s rights in Washington.

1930 – Adventures of Sherlock Holmes premiered on NBC radio.

1939 – “All the Things You Are” was recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

1941 – World War II: Thousands of civilians in German-occupied Serbia were murdered in the Kragujevac massacre.

1944 – Liquefied natural gas leaked from storage tanks in Cleveland and then exploded.  It leveled 30 blocks and killed 130 people.

1944 – American general Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his promise to return to the Philippines when he came ashore during the Battle of Leyte.

1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee began its investigation into Communist infiltration of the Hollywood film industry.  It resulted in a blacklist that prevented some from working in the industry for years.

1955 – Harry Belafonte recorded “Day-O” (Banana Boat Song).

1955 – Publication of “The Return of the King”, the 3rd and final volume of “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien.

1961 – The Soviet Union performed the first armed test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile when it launched an R-13 from a Golf-class submarine.

1962 – Peter, Paul and Mary’s debut folk album “Peter, Paul and Mary” reached No. 1 on US album charts.

1964 – Riot at Rolling Stones show in Paris led to 150 arrests.

1965 – The Beatles received a gold record for “Yesterday”.

1967 – A purported bigfoot was filmed at Bluff Creek by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin in Northern California.

1973 – “Saturday Night Massacre”: United States President Richard Nixon fired U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refused to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is eventually fired by Robert Bork.

1973 – The Sydney Opera House was opened by Queen Elizabeth II after 14 years of construction.

1976 – The ferry George Prince was struck by a ship while crossing the Mississippi River. Seventy-eight passengers and crew died, and only 18 people aboard the ferry survived.

1977 –  The plane chartered by rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd ran out of fuel and crashed in a wooded area near Gillsburg, Mississippi. Six people were killed, including band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gains, and Cassie Gaines, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick.

1980 – Geffen records released their first album, Donna Summer’s “The Wanderer”.

1981 – Two police officers and an armored car guard were killed during an armed robbery carried out by members of the Black Liberation Army and Weather Underground.

2011 – The former leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, and his son Moatassem Gaddafi were killed shortly after the battle of Sirte while in the custody of NTC fighters.

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