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Today in History, Thursday, Oct. 15

Today in History, Thursday, Oct. 15

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte, the deposed Emperor of the French, arrived on the British-ruled South Atlantic island of St. Helena, where he spent the last 5 1/2 years of his life in exile.

In 1917, Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari (Margaretha ZelleGeertruida MacLeod), 41, convicted by a French military court of spying for the Germans, was executed by a firing squad outside Paris. Maintaining her innocence to the end, Mata Hari refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to her executioners.

In 1940, Charles Chaplin's first all-talking comedy, "The Great Dictator," a lampoon of Adolf Hitler, opened in New York.

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 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the Carolina coast as a Category 4 storm; Hazel was blamed for some 1,000 deaths in the Caribbean, 95 in the U.S. and 81 in Canada.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill creating the U.S. Department of Transportation. The revolutionary Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.

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 U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.

In 2001, Bethlehem Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In 2003, eleven people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. The ferry's pilot, who blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.

In 2010, the Obama administration reported that the federal deficit had hit a near-record $1.3 trillion for the just-completed budget year. 

In 2015, Ken Taylor, Canada's ambassador to Iran who sheltered Americans at his residence during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, died in New York at age 81.

In 2017, actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted should write "Me too" as a status; within hours, tens of thousands had taken up the #MeToo hashtag, using a phrase that had been introduced 10 years earlier by social activist Tarana Burke.

Compiled by Melissa Hall

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