On Oct. 24, 1861, the first transcontinental telegraph message was sent by Chief Justice Stephen J. Field of California from San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., over a line built by the Western Union Telegraph Co. (In his message, Field expressed hope that the telegraph would be "the means of strengthening the attachment which binds both the East and the West to the Union.")
On this date:
In 1537, Jane Seymour, the third wife of England's King Henry VIII, died 12 days after giving birth to Prince Edward, later King Edward VI.
In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War and effectively destroyed the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1901, widow Anna Edson Taylor became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
In 1931, the George Washington Bridge, connecting New York and New Jersey, was officially dedicated (it opened to traffic the next day).
In 1940, the 40-hour work week went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
In 1945, the United Nations officially came into existence as its charter took effect.
In 1949, construction began on U.N. headquarters in New York.
In 1952, Republican presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower declared in Detroit, "I shall go to Korea" as he promised to end the conflict. (He made the visit over a month later.)
In 1987, 30 years after it was expelled, the Teamsters union was welcomed back into the AFL-CIO. (However, the Teamsters disafilliated themselves from the AFL-CIO in 2005.)
In 1991, "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry died in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 70.
Ten years ago: The House narrowly passed a $100 billion economic stimulus package. Two trucks crashed head-on in a main tunnel through the Swiss Alps, igniting a fire and killing 11 people. O.J. Simpson was acquitted in Miami of grabbing another driver's glasses and scratching the man's face in a road-rage argument.
Five years ago: American officials unveiled a timeline for Iraq's Shiite-led government to take specific steps to calm Baghdad and said more U.S. troops might be needed to quell the bloodshed. The St. Louis Cardinals gained a 2-1 World Series edge as they defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-0. (Before Game 3 began, baseball players and owners finalized a five-year collective bargaining agreement.)
One year ago: Following the latest release of secret U.S. military documents by WikiLeaks, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told BBC television that allegations of prisoner abuse and civilian killings in Iraq were extremely serious and needed to be investigated. Playwright Joseph Stein, who wrote the book for the classic Broadway musical "Fiddler on the Roof," died in New York at age 98.
More Life Headlines
Our to-do list full of ideas for your weekend
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.