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This Day in History: November 12

Events

1892 – William "Pudge" Heffelfinger becomes the first professional American football player on record, participating in his first paid game for the Allegheny Athletic Association.

1928 – SS Vestris sinks approximately 200 miles (320 km) off Hampton Roads, Virginia, killing at least 110 passengers, mostly women and children who die after the vessel is abandoned.

1936 – In California, the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge opens to traffic.

1942 – World War II: Naval Battle of Guadalcanal between Japanese and American forces begins near Guadalcanal. The battle lasts for three days and ends with an American victory.

1948 – In Tokyo, an international war crimes tribunal sentences seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, to death for their roles in World War II.

1958 – A team of rock climbers led by Warren Harding completes the first ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.

1969 – Vietnam War: My Lai Massacre: Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh breaks the My Lai story.

1970 – The Oregon Highway Division attempts to destroy a rotting beached Sperm whale with explosives, leading to the now infamous "exploding whale" incident.

1971 – Vietnam War: As part of Vietnamization, US President Richard Nixon sets February 1, 1972 as the deadline for the removal of another 45,000 American troops from Vietnam.

1979 – Iran hostage crisis: In response to the hostage situation in Tehran, US President Jimmy Carter orders a halt to all petroleum imports into the United States from Iran.

1980 – The NASA space probe Voyager I makes its closest approach to Saturn and takes the first images of its rings.

1981 – Space Shuttle program: Mission STS-2, utilizing the Space Shuttle Columbia, marks the first time a manned spacecraft is launched into space twice.

1982 – In the Soviet Union, Yuri Andropov becomes the General Secretary of the Communist Party's Central Committee, succeeding Leonid I. Brezhnev.

1990 – Tim Berners-Lee publishes a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.

1993 – The first Ultimate Fighting Championship event, UFC 1, is held in Denver, Colorado.

1997 – Ramzi Yousef is found guilty of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

1999 – The 7.2 Mw Düzce earthquake shakes northwestern Turkey with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). At least 845 people were killed and almost 5,000 were injured.

2001 – In New York City, American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 en route to the Dominican Republic, crashes minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 260 on board and five on the ground.

Births

1790 – Letitia Christian Tyler, American wife of John Tyler, 10th First Lady of the United States (d. 1842)

1815 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American activist (d. 1902)

1889 – DeWitt Wallace, American publisher and philanthropist, co-founded Reader's Digest (d. 1981)

1908 – Harry Blackmun, American lawyer and judge (d. 1999)

1929 – Grace Kelly, American-Monacan actress and singer (d. 1982)

1934 – Charles Manson, American cult leader and murderer

1936 – Mills Lane, American boxer, referee, lawyer, and judge

1944 – Booker T. Jones, American pianist, saxophonist, songwriter, and producer (Booker T. & the M.G.'s)

1944 – Al Michaels, American sportscaster

1945 – Neil Young, Canadian-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer

1970 – Tonya Harding, American figure skater and boxer

Deaths

1916 – Percival Lowell, American astronomer, mathematician, and author (b. 1855)

1993 – H. R. Haldeman, American diplomat, 4th White House Chief of Staff (b. 1926)

1994 – Wilma Rudolph, American sprinter and educator (b. 1940)

2007 – Ira Levin, American author and playwright (b. 1929)