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HISTORY Today is Wednesday, Sept. 18, the 261st day of 2002. There are 104 days left in the year.

Today's highlight in history:

On Sept. 18, 1947, the National Security Act, which unified the Army, Navy and newly formed Air Force into a national military establishment, went into effect.

On this date:

In 1759, the French formally surrendered Quebec to the British.

In 1793, President Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol.

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In 1810, Chile declared its independence from Spain.

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed slave owners to reclaim slaves who had escaped to other states.

In 1851, the first edition of the New York Times was published.

In 1927, the Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System (later CBS) made its debut with a basic network of 16 radio stations.

In 1961, United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash in northern Rhodesia.

In 1970, rock star Jimi Hendrix died in London at age 27.

In 1975, newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was captured by the FBI in San Francisco, 19 months after being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

In 1981, a museum honoring former President Ford was dedicated in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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Ten years ago: Ross Perot's name was submitted for the 50th state ballot -- Arizona -- on the same day that Perot hinted on NBC's "Today" show that he might throw his hat into the presidential ring, after all.

Five years ago: Two gunmen opened fire on a group of German tourists in front of the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo, killing nine of the tourists and a bus driver. Coopers and Lybrand and Price Waterhouse agreed to merge to create the world's biggest accounting firm. Voters in Wales narrowly approved a British government offer to set up a Welsh assembly. Media mogul Ted Turner pledged to spend $1 billion on United Nations causes.

One year ago: A week after the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush said he hoped to "rally the world" in the battle against terrorism and predicted that all "people who love freedom" would join. Letters postmarked in Trenton, N.J., and later tested positive for anthrax, were sent to the New York Post and NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw.

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