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This Day in History: November 20

Events

1776 – American Revolutionary War: British forces land at the Palisades and then attack Fort Lee. The Continental Army starts to retreat across New Jersey.

1789 – New Jersey becomes the first U.S. state to ratify the Bill of Rights.

1820 – An 80-ton sperm whale attacks the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America. (Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick is in part inspired by this story.)

1861 – American Civil War: A secession ordinance is filed by Kentucky's Confederate government.

1943 – World War II: Battle of Tarawa (Operation Galvanic) begins: United States Marines land on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands and suffer heavy fire from Japanese shore guns and machine guns.

1945 – Nuremberg trials: Trials against 24 Nazi war criminals start at the Palace of Justice at Nuremberg.

1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis ends: In response to the Soviet Union agreeing to remove its missiles from Cuba, U.S. President John F. Kennedy ends the quarantine of the Caribbean nation.

1968 – A total of 78 miners are killed in an explosion at the Consolidated Coal Company’s No. 9 mine in Farmington, West Virginia in the Farmington Mine disaster

1969 – Vietnam War: The Plain Dealer publishes explicit photographs of dead villagers from the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.

1969 – Occupation of Alcatraz: Native American activists seize control of Alcatraz Island until being ousted by the U.S. Government on June 11, 1971.

1974 – The United States Department of Justice files its final anti-trust suit against AT&T Corporation. This suit later leads to the breakup of AT&T and its Bell System.

1980 – Lake Peigneur drains into an underlying salt deposit. A misplaced Texaco oil probe had been drilled into the Diamond Crystal Salt Mine, causing water to flow down into the mine, eroding the edges of the hole.

1985 – Microsoft Windows 1.0 is released.

1993 – Savings and loan crisis: The United States Senate Ethics Committee issues a stern censure of California senator Alan Cranston for his "dealings" with savings-and-loan executive Charles Keating.

1998 – A court in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan declares accused terrorist Osama bin Laden "a man without a sin" in regard to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

1998 – The first module of the International Space Station, Zarya, is launched.

2001 – In Washington, D.C., U.S. President George W. Bush dedicates the United States Department of Justice headquarters building as the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Building, honoring the late Robert F. Kennedy on what would have been his 76th birthday.

Births

1866 – Kenesaw Mountain Landis, American lawyer and judge (d. 1944)

1869 – Clark Griffith, American baseball player and manager (d. 1955)

1889 – Edwin Hubble, American astronomer and cosmologist (d. 1953)

1900 – Chester Gould, American cartoonist and author, created Dick Tracy (d. 1985)

1907 – Fran Allison, American actress and singer (d. 1989)

1908 – Alistair Cooke, English-American journalist and author (d. 2004)

1917 – Robert Byrd, American lawyer and politician (d. 2010)

1925 – Robert F. Kennedy, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 64th United States Attorney General (d. 1968)

1942 – Joe Biden, American lawyer and politician, 47th Vice President of the United States

Deaths

1954 – Clyde Vernon Cessna, American pilot and engineer, founded the Cessna Aircraft Corporation (b. 1879)

2006 – Robert Altman, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1925)