Today in History: October 12

1492 – Christopher Columbus’s first expedition made landfall in the Caribbean, specifically on San Salvador Island. (Julian calendar)

1692 – The Salem witch trials were ended by a letter from Province of Massachusetts Bay Governor William Phips.

1773 – America’s first insane asylum, Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, opened.

1792 – The first celebration of Columbus Day was held in New York City.

1793 – The cornerstone of Old East, the oldest state university building in the United States, was laid at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

1799 – Jeanne Geneviève Labrosse became the first woman to jump from a balloon with a parachute.

1810 – The citizens of Munich held the first Oktoberfest in celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Louis of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance was first recited by students in many US public schools.

1901 – President Theodore Roosevelt officially renamed the “Executive Mansion” to the White House.

1918 – A massive forest fire killed 453 people in Minnesota.

1928 – An iron lung respirator was used for the first time at Boston Children’s Hospital.

1933 – The military Alcatraz Citadel became the civilian Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.

1944 – Frank Sinatra returned to the Paramount Theatre to a huge crowd known as the “Columbus Day Riot.”

1945 – World War II: Desmond Doss was the first conscientious objector to receive the U.S. Medal of Honor.

1957 – Little Richard tossed four diamond rings into the Hunter River in Sydney, Australia, to prove that he was giving up rock-n-roll for his faith in God. He returned to music five years later.

1959 – At the national congress of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance in Peru, a group of leftist radicals were expelled from the party who later formed APRA Rebelde.

1960 – Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on a desk at the United Nations to protest a Philippine assertion.

1962 – The Columbus Day Storm struck the U.S. Pacific Northwest with record wind velocities. There was at least U.S. $230 million in damages and 46 people died.

1962 – Little Richard headlined a concert in New Brighton. One of the opening acts was the Beatles.

1964 – The Soviet Union launched the Voskhod 1 into Earth orbit as the first spacecraft with a multi-person crew, and the first flight without pressure suits.

1968 – John Sebastian left the band Lovin’ Spoonful to start his solo career.

1969 – The “Paul is Dead” craze began when a radio DJ played “Revolution #9” backwards.

1970 – Vietnam War: Vietnamization continued as President Richard Nixon announced that the United States would withdraw 40,000 more troops before Christmas.

1971 – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” debuted on Broadway.

1974 – President Nixon nominated House Majority Leader Gerald R. Ford as the successor to Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.

1975 – Rod Stewart and the Faces play their final show together. The group’s breakup was due to Stewart wanting to further his success with his solo career.

1978 – Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols) was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Spungen had been found dead with several knife wounds to her abdominal area. Vicious died of a heroin overdose before his murder trial began.

1983 – Karen Carpenter received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1984 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army failed to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet. The bomb killed five people and wounded 31.

1988 – The Poison single “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” was released.

1994 – The Magellan spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere of Venus.

1997 – John Denver was killed when the plane he was piloting crashed into Monterey Bay, CA. He was 53 years old.

1998 – Matthew Shepard, a gay student at University of Wyoming, died five days after he was beaten outside of Laramie.

2000 – The USS Cole, a US Navy destroyer, was badly damaged by two al-Qaeda suicide bombers, killing 17 crew members and wounding at least 39.

2005 – The second Chinese human spaceflight, Shenzhou 6, was launched and carried two cosmonauts in orbit for five days.

2017 – The United States announced its decision to withdraw from UNESCO. Israel immediately followed.

2019 – The Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, which was under construction, collapsed, killed two and injured 20.

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