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In 1859, French acrobat Charles Blondin walked back and forth on a tightrope above the gorge of Niagara Falls as thousands of spectators watched.

In 1865, eight people, including Mary Surratt and Dr. Samuel Mudd, were convicted by a military commission of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. Four defendants, including Surratt, were executed; Mudd was sentenced to life in prison, but was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in 1869.

In 1908, the Tunguska Event took place in Russia as an asteroid exploded above Siberia, leaving 800 square miles of scorched or blown-down trees.

In 1912, Canada’s deadliest tornado on record occurred as a cyclone struck Regina, the provincial capital of Saskatchewan, killing 28 people.

In 1921, President Warren G. Harding nominated former President William Howard Taft to be chief justice of the United States, succeeding the late Edward Douglass White.

In 1936, the Civil War novel “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was first published by The Macmillan Co. in New York.

In 1949, “The Missouri Waltz” became the official state song of Missouri.

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In 1958, the U.S. Senate passed the Alaska statehood bill by a vote of 64-20.

In 1963, Pope Paul VI was crowned the 262nd head of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1966, the National Organization for Women was founded in Washington, D.C.

In 1971, the film fantasy “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder, was released by Paramount Pictures.

In 1985, 39 American hostages from a hijacked TWA jetliner were freed in Beirut after being held 17 days.

In 1994, an Airbus A330 passenger plane crashed after takeoff from Toulouse, France, on a test flight, killing all seven occupants.

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