What Happened on October 18?

  • The US bought Alaska from Russia. (1867) Alaska was purchased for $7.2 million US Dollars in what became known as the Alaska Purchase. The acquisition increased the size of the US territory by 586,412 square miles (more than 1.5 million square kilometers). Alaska became a US state in 1959.

  • The US's plutonium bomb plans were illegally given to Russia. (1945) A German physicist and spy, Klaus Fuchs, was working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US and gave the plans to the Russians. The plans were part of the Manhattan Project research — a collaborative effort by Canada, Britain and the US. Fuchs' trial was held in Britain and lasted less than 90 minutes. He was sent to prison for 14 years.

  • Women were declared "persons" in Canada. (1929) In Canada's Edwards v. Canada, the Imperial Privy Council decided women were "persons," in terms of the British North American Act, and could be allowed to hold seats in Parliament and enjoy the same rights as Canadian men. Before this landmark case, women could be punished under the same laws as men, but were not granted the same privileges and rights.

  • The first labor union was formed in the US. (1648) The Boston Shoemakers formed the first labor organization.

  • The US raised its flag in Puerto Rico, shortly before taking possession of the country from Spain. (1898) In the Spanish-American War, Spain ended up ceding Puerto Rico, Guam, Cuba, and the Philippines to the US when they signed the 1898 Treaty of Paris on December 10 that year.

  • The world's first transistor radio went into production. (1954) The Regency TR-1 radio was announced by Texas Instruments on this day. It went on sale in November.

  • The Mason-Dixon Line was drawn. (1767) To settle boundary disputes between colonies, two English surveyors — Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon — were hired to determine the boundaries of what would become West Virginia and Delaware.

  • Atmospheric pressure of another planet was measured for the first time. (1967) The pressure was measured when the Soviet probe Venera 4 arrived at Venus.

  • A national broadcasting network was established in Britain. (1922) The British Broadcasting Company created the national service by installing radio transmitters throughout the country.

  • The Grand Ole Opry opened for business. (1925) Established in Nashville, Tennessee, the Opry produces a weekly stage show and broadcasts the concert over AM radio. Some of the most famous musicians in history have performed there, including Elvis, Dolly Parton and Hank Williams. The radio broadcast is one of the longest-running in the history of radio.

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