This Day in History: Oct. 20

Key Watergate figures resign during 'Saturday Night Massacre'; Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi is killed during an uprising

On this day, Oct. 20 ...

2011: Muammar Qaddafi, 69, Libya's dictator for 42 years, is killed as revolutionary fighters overwhelm his hometown of Sirte and capture the last major bastion of resistance two months after his regime falls.

Also on this day:

  • 1803: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1944: During World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur steps ashore at Leyte in the Philippines, 2 1/2 years after saying, "I shall return."
  • 1947: The House Un-American Activities Committee opens hearings into alleged Communist influence and infiltration in the U.S. motion picture industry.
  • 1967: A jury in Meridian, Miss., convicts seven men of violating the civil rights of slain civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner; the seven receives prison terms ranging from 3 to 10 years.
  • 1973: In the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre," special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox is dismissed and Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William B. Ruckelshaus resign.
  • 1977: Three members of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, are killed along with three others in the crash of a chartered plane near McComb, Miss.
  • 1986: The government of Nicaragua formally charges captured American mercenary Eugene Hasenfus with several crimes, including terrorism. (Although convicted and sentenced to prison, Hasenfus would be pardoned and released by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.)
  • 1990: Three members of the rap group 2 Live Crew are acquitted by a jury in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., of violating obscenity laws with an adults-only concert in nearby Hollywood the previous June.
  • 1999: The government lays out new rules to protect children's privacy on the internet and to shield them from commercial e-mail.
  • 1999: Elizabeth Dole abandons her Republican bid to be America's first woman president.
  • 2001: Officials announce that anthrax has been discovered in a House postal facility on Capitol Hill.
  • 2004: A U.S. Army staff sergeant, Ivan "Chip" Frederick, pleads guilty to abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. (Frederick would be sentenced to eight years in prison and paroled in 2007.)
  • 2018: Saudi Arabia announces that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul; there is immediate international skepticism over the Saudi account that Khashoggi died during a "fistfight."
  • 2018: President Trump says the U.S. will pull out of a landmark arms control agreement with the former Soviet Union; he says Russia is violating the pact and that it is keeping the U.S. from developing new weapons.