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Today in History: October 18, U.S. takes possession of Alaska from Russia

Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Oct. 18, the 291st day of 2023. There are 74 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 18, 1867, the United States took formal possession of Alaska from Russia.

On this date:

In 1648, Boston shoemakers were authorized to form a guild to protect their interests, becoming the first American labor organization on record.

In 1892, the first long-distance telephone line between New York and Chicago was officially opened.

In 1898, the American flag was raised in Puerto Rico shortly before Spain formally relinquished control of the island to the U.S.

In 1954, Texas Instruments unveiled the Regency TR-1, the first commercially produced transistor radio.

In 1962, James D. Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were honored with the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for determining the double-helix molecular structure of DNA.

In 1968, the U.S. Olympic Committee suspended Tommie Smith and John Carlos for giving a "Black power" salute as a protest during a victory ceremony in Mexico City.

In 1969, the federal government banned artificial sweeteners known as cyclamates because of evidence they caused cancer in laboratory rats.

In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, overriding President Richard Nixon's veto.

In 1977, West German commandos stormed a hijacked Lufthansa jetliner on the ground in Mogadishu, Somalia, freeing all 86 hostages and killing three of the four hijackers.

In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum, 26, was taken off life support six days after shooting himself in the head with a pistol loaded with a blank cartridge on the set of his TV show "Cover Up."

In 2001, CBS News announced that an employee in anchorman Dan Rather's office had tested positive for skin anthrax.

In 2010, four men snared in an FBI sting were convicted of plotting to blow up New York City synagogues and shoot down military planes with the help of a paid informant who'd convinced them he was a terror operative.

In 2012, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. (The following June, the Supreme Court would use that case to strike down provisions keeping legally-married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits that were otherwise available to married couples.)

In 2018, President Donald Trump threatened to close the U.S. border with Mexico if authorities could not stop a caravan of migrants making their way from Central America.

Today's Birthdays: College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka is 84. Singer-musician Russ Giguere is 80. Actor Joe Morton is 76. Actor Pam Dawber is 73. Author Terry McMillan is 72. Writer-producer Chuck Lorre is 71. Gospel singer Vickie Winans is 70. Director-screenwriter David Twohy (TOO'-ee) is 68. International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova is 67. Actor Jon Lindstrom is 66. International Hall of Fame boxer Thomas Hearns is 65. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is 63. Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is 62. Actor Vincent Spano is 61. Singer Nonchalant is 56. Former tennis player Michael Stich (shteek) is 55. Actor Joy Bryant is 49. Rock musician Peter Svensson (The Cardigans) is 49. Actor Wesley Jonathan is 45. R&B singer-actor Ne-Yo is 44. Country singer Josh Gracin is 43. Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn is 39. Jazz singer-musician Esperanza Spalding is 39. Actor-model Freida Pinto is 39. Actor Zac Efron is 36. Actor Joy Lauren is 34. U.S. Olympic and WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner is 33. TV personality Bristol Palin is 33. Actor Tyler Posey is 32. Actor Toby Regbo is 32.