Today is Monday, Oct. 15, the 288th day of 2018. There are 77 days left in the year.
On Oct. 15, 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 1783, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascended in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.
In 1860, 11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, N.Y., wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard.
In 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act, which expanded on the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson.
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 1928, the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin landed in Lakehurst, N.J., completing its first commercial flight across the Atlantic.
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 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 1989, South African officials released eight prominent political prisoners, including Walter Sisulu.
In 1997, British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green twice drove a jet-powered car in the Nevada desert faster than the speed of sound, officially shattering the world's land-speed record. NASA's plutonium-powered Cassini spacecraft rocketed flawlessly toward Saturn.
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'd blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.)