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This Day in History: October 20


1548 – The city of Nuestra Señora de La Paz (Our Lady of Peace) is founded by Alonso de Mendoza by appointment of the king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.

1720 – Caribbean pirate Calico Jack is captured by the Royal Navy.

1803 – The United States Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.

1818 – The Convention of 1818 is signed between the United States and the United Kingdom, which settles the Canada–United States border on the 49th parallel for most of its length.

1873 – Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers universities draft the first code of American football rules.

1941 – World War II: Thousands of civilians in Kragujevac in German-occupied Serbia are murdered in the Kragujevac massacre.

1944 – The Soviet Army and Yugoslav Partisans liberate Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia

1944 – Liquefied natural gas leaks from storage tanks in Cleveland and then explodes; the explosion and resulting fire level 30 blocks and kill 130.

1944 – American general Douglas MacArthur fulfills his promise to return to the Philippines when he commands an Allied assault on the islands, reclaiming them from the Japanese during the Second World War.

1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.

1947 – The United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan establish diplomatic relations for the first time.

1968 – Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

1973 – "Saturday Night Massacre": United States President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is finally fired by Robert Bork.

1976 – The ferry George Prince is struck by a ship while crossing the Mississippi River between Destrehan and Luling, Louisiana. Seventy-eight passengers and crew die and only 18 people aboard the ferry survive.

1977 – Rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane crashes.

1981 – Two police officers and an armored car guard are killed during an armed robbery in Rockland County, New York, carried out by members of the Black Liberation Army and Weather Underground.


1859 – John Dewey, American psychologist and philosopher (d. 1952)

1874 – Charles Ives, American composer (d. 1954)

1882 – Bela Lugosi, Hungarian-American actor (d. 1956)

1885 – Jelly Roll Morton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1941)

1891 – Samuel Flagg Bemis, American historian and author (d. 1973)

1910 – Bob Sheppard, American sportscaster (d. 2010)

1913 – Grandpa Jones, American singer-songwriter and banjo player (d. 1998)

1923 – Robert Craft, American conductor and musicologist

1924 – Robert Peters, American poet, playwright, and critic (d. 2014)

1925 – Art Buchwald, American soldier and journalist (d. 2007)

1927 – Joyce Brothers, American psychologist, author, and actress (d. 2013)

1931 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (d. 1995)

1932 – William Christopher, American actor and singer

1935 – Jerry Orbach, American actor and singer (d. 2004)

1936 – Bobby Seale, American activist, co-founded the Black Panther Party

1971 – Snoop Dogg, American rapper, producer, and actor


1865 – Champ Ferguson, American guerrilla leader (b. 1821)

1926 – Eugene V. Debs, American union leader and politician (b. 1855)

1936 – Anne Sullivan, American educator (b. 1866)

1964 – Herbert Hoover, American engineer and politician, 31st President of the United States (b. 1874)

1977 – Steve Gaines, American guitarist (Lynyrd Skynyrd and Detroit) (b. 1949)

1977 – Ronnie Van Zant, American singer-songwriter (Lynyrd Skynyrd) (b. 1948)

1994 – Burt Lancaster, American actor, singer, and producer (b. 1913)

1999 – Calvin Griffith, Canadian-American businessman (b. 1911)

2006 – Jane Wyatt, American actress (b. 1910)

2011 – Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan colonel and politician, Prime Minister of Libya (b. 1942)

2014 – Ox Baker, American wrestler and actor (b. 1934)

2014 – Oscar de la Renta, Dominican-American fashion designer (b. 1932)