This Day in History: Oct. 15

On this day, Oct. 15 …

1991: Despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirms the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.

Also on this day: 

  • 1783: The first manned balloon flight takes place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascends in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.
  • 1940: Charles Chaplin’s first all-talking comedy, “The Great Dictator,” a lampoon of Adolf Hitler, opens in New York.
  • 1976: In the first debate of its kind between vice presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole face off in Houston.
  • 2001: Bethlehem Steel Corp. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • 2003: Eleven people are killed when a Staten Island ferry slams into a maintenance pier. (The ferry’s pilot, who blacked out at the controls, later pleads guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter.)
  • 2006: Three members of Duke University’s lacrosse team appear on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to deny raping a woman who’d been hired to perform as a stripper (Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans ultimately would be exonerated).
  • 2009: A report of a 6-year-old Colorado boy trapped inside a runaway helium balloon engrosses the nation before the boy, Falcon Heene, is found safe at home in what turned out to be a hoax. 
  • 2017: Actress Alyssa Milano tweets that women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted should write “Me too” as a status; within hours, tens of thousands took up the #MeToo hashtag (using a phrase that had been introduced 10 years earlier by social activist Tarana Burke).

  • 2018: Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren releases a DNA analysis that she says indicates that she has some Native American heritage. (The move is intended as a rebuttal to President Trump, who had mocked those claims. A Stanford University expert would conclude that Warren had a Native American ancestor who probably lived six to 10 generations ago.)

  • 2018: Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, dies in Seattle at the age of 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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