This Day in History: Oct. 7

On this day, Oct. 7 …

2001: The war in Afghanistan starts as the United States and Britain launch air attacks against military targets and Usama bin Laden's training camps in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Also on this day:

  • 1849: Edgar Allan Poe dies in Baltimore at age 40.
  • 1954: Marian Anderson becomes the first black singer hired by the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York.
  • 1960: Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and Republican opponent Richard Nixon hold their second televised debate, this one in Washington, D.C.
  • 1979: Pope John Paul II concludes his week-long tour of the United States with a Mass on the Washington Mall.
  • 1985: Palestinian gunmen hijack the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean. (The hijackers would shoot and kill Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish-American tourist in a wheelchair, and push him overboard, before surrendering on Oct. 9.)
  • 1991: University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill publicly accuses Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of making sexually inappropriate comments when she worked for him; Thomas denies Hill's allegations.
  • 1992: Trade representatives of the United States, Canada and Mexico initial the North American Free Trade Agreement during a ceremony in San Antonio, Texas, in the presence of President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
  • 1996: Fox News Channel makes its debut.
  • 1998: Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, is beaten and left tied to a wooden fencepost outside of Laramie, Wyo.; he would die five days later. (Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney are serving life sentences for Shepard's murder.)
  • 2003: California voters recall Gov. Gray Davis and elect Arnold Schwarzenegger their new governor.
  • 2004: President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney concede that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction as they try to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue, arguing that Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.