1817 - The Alabama Territory was created by splitting the Mississippi Territory in two in preparation for the latter's impending statehood; the former was admitted to the union as the 22nd state just under three years later, in December 1819, two years after the latter became the 20th state, in December 1817.
1845 - Florida became the 27th state.
1849 - The United States Department of the Interior was established, on the eve of President Zachary Taylor's inauguration; it has been supervising the degradation and destruction of the country's wild beauty ever since, most notably under Republican appointees James G. Watt and Christine Todd Whitman.
1865 - Congress authorized the formation of the Freedmen's Bureau to assist in the grueling work of Reconstruction; meant to operate for one year under the stewardship of General Oliver O. Howard, it was finally disbanded in December 1868 by President Andrew Johnson.
1873 - Congress enacted the Comstock Law, making it illegal to send any 'obscene, lewd, or lascivious' books through the mail; the law was used to harass those people - such as Margaret Sanger - who were engaged in distributing important educational information about birth control, and was an effective weapon against the First Amendment for many years. Now a series of laws at the state and federal level, it is still in effect, although the Internet has effectively made a mockery of it.
1877 - Rutherford B. Hayes was privately inaugurated as the 19th President of the United States in the Red Room of the White House, the day before his public inauguration.
1879 - The United States Geological Survey was created.
1885 - The American Telephone and Telegraph Company was incorporated in New York State.
1910 - Apparently, the noted robber baron J.D. Rockefeller Jr. announced his retirement from managing his businesses in order to devote himself full time to his philanthropic aims as head of the Rockefeller Foundation.
1915 - NACA, the predecessor of NASA, was founded.
1923 - TIME magazine, created by Briton Hadden and Henry Luce, was published for the first time.
1931 - President Herbert Hoover signed a Congressional resolution which made The Star-Spangled Banner the official national anthem.
1933 - Gutzon Borglum's epic Mount Rushmore National Memorial was dedicated.
1969 - NASA launched Apollo 9 to test the lunar module.
1972 - The Pioneer 10 space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral with a mission to explore the outer planets; its final contact with Earth was a weak signal received in January 2003. It has since left our solar system and is headed for Aldebaran in the Taurus system.
1991 - An amateur video captured the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Rolando Solano.
2005 - Steve Fossett became the first person to fly an airplane non-stop around the world solo without refueling or landing, which he did in 67 hours, 1 minute, 10 seconds at an average speed of 550.7 km/h (342.2 mph) aboard the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer.
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