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October 15, 2013

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, Oct. 15, the 288th day of 2013. There are 77 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:

On Oct. 15, 1917, Dutch dancer Mata Hari, convicted of spying for the Germans, was executed by a French firing squad outside Paris.

On this date:

In 1858, the seventh and final debate between senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place in Alton, Ill.

In 1860, 11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, N.Y., wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard.

In 1928, the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin landed in Lakehurst, N.J., completing its first commercial flight across the Atlantic.

In 1937, the Ernest Hemingway novel “To Have and Have Not” was first published by Charles Scribner’s Sons.

In 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed for treason.

In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.

In 1951, the classic sitcom “I Love Lucy” premiered on CBS with the episode “The Girls Want to Go to the Nightclub.”

In 1964, it was announced that Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev had been removed from office.

In 1969, peace demonstrators staged activities across the country as part of a “moratorium” against the Vietnam War.

In 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.

In 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, 52-48.

In 1997, British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green twice drove a jet-powered car in the Nevada desert faster than the speed of sound, officially shattering the world’s land-speed record. NASA’s plutonium-powered Cassini spacecraft rocketed flawlessly toward Saturn.

Ten years ago: Eleven people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. (The ferry’s pilot, who’d blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter.) Doctors in Florida removed the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, a severely brain-damaged woman at the center of a right-to-die battle. (The tube was reinserted, then removed again, as the legal battle played out, ending with Schiavo’s death in March 2005.) An explosion ripped apart a U.S. diplomatic vehicle in the Gaza Strip, killing three Americans. China launched its first manned space mission. The Florida Marlins won the National League championship with a 9-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 7.

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