Today in History – October 15

– 1764, Edward Gibbon observes a group of friars singing in the ruined Temple of Jupiter in Rome, which inspires him to begin work on The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

• 1783, the Montgolfier brothers Hot air balloon: first human ascent by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier, (tethered balloon)

• 1815, Napoleon I of France begins his exile on Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean

• 1860, 11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, N.Y., wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by letting his whiskers grow

• 1863 during the American Civil War: The CSS H. L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship, sinks during a test, killing its inventor, Horace L. Hunley

• 1878, the Edison Electric Light Company begins operation

• 1888, the “From Hell” letter sent by Jack the Ripper is received by the investigators

• 1894, the Dreyfus affair: Alfred Dreyfus is arrested for spying

• 1917, Mata Hari, a Dutch dancer who had spied for the Germans, was executed by a French firing squad outside Paris

• 1928, the airship, the Graf Zeppelin completes its first trans-Atlantic flight, landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey

• 1938, the District of Columbia formally adopts a design for its flag

• 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed

• 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering, ym”sh, poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed

• 1951, “I Love Lucy,” TV’s first long-running sitcom, made its debut

• 1964, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was ousted and replaced by Alexei Kosygin as premier and Leonid Brezhnev as first secretary

• 1966, President Johnson signed a bill creating the Department of Transportation

• 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston

• 1984, astronomers in Pasadena, Calif., displayed the first photographic evidence of another solar system 293 trillion miles from Earth

• 1989, Wayne Gretzky becomes the all-time leading points scorer in the NHL

• 1990, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was named the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize

• 1991, after facing s exual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, 52-48

• 1997, the first supersonic land speed record is set by Andy Green in ThrustSSC (United Kingdom), exactly 50 years and 1 day after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in the Earth’s atmosphere

• 2002, Iraqis turned out for a national referendum on whether Saddam Hussein should remain their president for another seven years; Saddam won with a reported 100 percent of the votes cast

• 2004, the FDA ordered that all antidepressants carry strong warnings that they “increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior” in children who take them. ALSO: Several thousand people opposed to gay marriage gathered on the National Mall in Washington to call for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman

• 2005, a riot in Toledo, Ohio breaks out during a National Socialist/Neo-Nazi protest; over 100 are arrested

• 2009, a report of a 6-year-old Colorado boy trapped inside a runaway helium balloon engrossed the nation before the boy, Falcon Heene (HEE’-nee), was found safe at home in what turned out to be a hoax. (Falcon’s parents served up to a month in jail.)

• 2010, the U.S. Social Security Administration announced that more than 58 million Americans receiving monthly benefits wouldn’t get a cost-of-living adjustment in 2011

• 2012, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating education for girls, arrived at a hospital in Britain. (After her release, she continued to promote education, spoke at the United Nations and, in 2014, won the Nobel Peace Prize.)

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