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This Day in History: October 18


1540 – Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto's forces destroy the fortified town of Mabila in present-day Alabama, killing Tuskaloosa.

1648 – Boston Shoemakers form first American labor organization.

1775 – African-American poet Phillis Wheatley is freed from slavery.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: The Burning of Falmouth (now Portland, Maine).

1779 – American Revolutionary War: The Franco-American Siege of Savannah is lifted.

1851 – Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is first published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London.

1867 – United States takes possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million. Celebrated annually in the state as Alaska Day.

1898 – The United States takes possession of Puerto Rico from Spain.

1944 – World War II: Soviet Union begins the liberation of Czechoslovakia from Nazi Germany.

1945 – The USSR's nuclear program receives plans for the United States plutonium bomb from Klaus Fuchs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

1954 – Texas Instruments announces the first transistor radio.

1964 – The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair closes for its first season after a six-month run.

1968 – The U.S. Olympic Committee suspends Tommie Smith and John Carlos for giving a "Black Power" salute during a victory ceremony at the Mexico City games.


1679 – Ann Putnam, Jr., American witness in the Salem witch trials (d. 1716)

1836 – Frederick August Otto Schwarz, American businessman, founded FAO Schwarz (d. 1911)

1878 – James Truslow Adams, American historian and author (d. 1949)

1894 – H. L. Davis, American author and poet (d. 1960)

1915 – Victor Sen Yung, American actor (d. 1980)

1926 – Chuck Berry, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

1939 – Lee Harvey Oswald, American assassin of John F. Kennedy (d. 1963)

1947 – Joe Morton, American actor and director

1947 – Laura Nyro, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1997)

1952 – Chuck Lorre, American director, producer, and screenwriter

1960 – Erin Moran, American actress and singer

1961 – Wynton Marsalis, American trumpet player, composer, and educator

1961 – Rick Moody, American author and composer


1931 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, invented the light bulb and phonograph (b. 1847)

1966 – S. S. Kresge, American businessman, founded Kmart (b. 1867)

1973 – Margaret Caroline Anderson, American publisher, founded The Little Review (b. 1886)

1973 – Walt Kelly, American illustrator and animator (b. 1913)

1982 – Bess Truman, American wife of Harry S. Truman, 40th First Lady of the United States (b. 1885)