Year
1988

Mikhail Gorbachev becomes head of Supreme Soviet

Having forced the resignation of Soviet leader Andrei Gromyko, Mikhail Gorbachev names himself head of the Supreme Soviet. Within two years, he was named “Man of the Decade” by Time magazine for his role in bringing the Cold War to a close. Beginning in 1985, when he became general secretary of the Communist Party in the USSR, Gorbachev moved forward to both liberalize the Soviet economy (perestroika) and political life (glasnost), as well as decrease tensions with the United States. By late 1991, the Soviet Union was moving toward dissolution, and Gorbachev retired from office in December 1991.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

2017 Las Vegas Shooting

On this day in 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd attending the final night of a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800. Although the shooting only lasted 10 minutes, the death and injury tolls made this massacre the deadliest mass ...read more

Franco heads Spain

During the Spanish Civil War, General Francisco Franco is named head of the rebel Nationalist government in Spain. It would take more than two years for Franco to defeat the Republicans in the civil war and become ruler of all of Spain. He subsequently served as dictator until ...read more

Suharto crushes Indonesian coup

A communist coup against Indonesian President Sukarno is crushed by General Mohammed Suharto, the Indonesian army chief of staff. In the aftermath, Suharto moved to replace Sukarno and launched a purge of Indonesian communists that resulted in thousands of deaths. In 1967, ...read more

Lawrence of Arabia captures Damascus

A combined Arab and British force captures Damascus from the Turks during World War I, completing the liberation of Arabia. An instrumental commander in the Allied campaign was T.E. Lawrence, a legendary British soldier known as Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence, an Oxford-educated ...read more

Terrorists strike again in Bali

On this day in 2005, suicide bombers strike three restaurants in two tourist areas on the Indonesian island of Bali, a popular resort area. The bombings killed 22 people, including the bombers, and injured more than 50 others. This was the second suicide-bombing incident to rock ...read more

Yosemite National Park established

On this day in 1890, an act of Congress creates Yosemite National Park, home of such natural wonders as Half Dome and the giant sequoia trees. Environmental trailblazer John Muir (1838-1914) and his colleagues campaigned for the congressional action, which was signed into law by ...read more

Roger Maris breaks home-run record

On October 1, 1961, New York Yankee Roger Maris becomes the first-ever major-league baseball player to hit more than 60 home runs in a single season. The great Babe Ruth set the record in 1927; Maris and his teammate Mickey Mantle spent 1961 trying to break it. After hitting 54 ...read more

Jimmy Carter is born

On this day in 1924, future President James Earl Carter is born in Plains, Georgia. Carter, who preferred to be called “Jimmy,” was the son of a peanut farmer and was the first president to be born in a hospital. Carter was raised a devoted Southern Baptist and graduated from the ...read more

Congress creates Yosemite National Park

On this day in 1890, the United States Congress decrees that about 1,500 square miles of public land in the California Sierra Nevada will be preserved forever as Yosemite National Park. Once the home to Indians whose battle cry Yo-che-ma-te (“some among them are killers”) gave ...read more

Earthquake rocks Southern California

An earthquake in Whittier, California, kills 6 people and injures 100 more on this day in 1987. The quake was the largest to hit Southern California since 1971, but not nearly as damaging as the Northridge quake that would devastate parts of Los Angeles seven years later. ...read more

A 12-year-old girl is kidnapped

Polly Klaas is abducted at knifepoint by an intruder in her Petaluma, California, home during a slumber party with two friends. Despite a massive manhunt and national attention, there was no sign of the missing 12-year-old or her abductor for two months. Eventually, investigators ...read more