1981—R. Reagan signs a secret directive creating the [illegal] Contras.
1976—Jerry Lee Lewis is arrested outside Graceland for waving a pistol and demanding to see Elvis.
1970—A Lithuanian radio operator jumps from a Russian trawler onto the deck of the Coast Guard cutter Vigilant. Commander Ralph Eustis allows Soviet sailors to board the cutter and seize the radioman.
1958—On TV: Ron & Nancy Reagan in “A Turkey for the President.”
1946—To teach “a severe lesson”—namely, that Vietnam is ruled by the French—the cruiser Suffren shells the hell out of Haiphong, killing 6,000. So began the First Indochina War.
1936—In San Antonio, bluesman Robert Johnson begins a legendary three-day recording session.
1918—In Scotland’s Scapa Flow, the German submarine U-18 is sunk by the fishing trawler Dorothy Gray.
1903—Colo. Gov. James Peabody sends militia to Cripple Creek, and suspends habeas corpus, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly, all to crush the Western Federation of Miners. He ends up inspiring the IWW.
1899—The world’s first jukebox plays in a San Francisco saloon.
1887—State militiamen massacre up to 300 Black, unionized cane cutters, on strike in Thibodeax, La.
1876—After a year on the lam in Cuba and Spain, Tammany Hall’s “Boss” Tweed is jailed in NYC.