On This Day in History February 21

February 21 – Events:

  • 362 – Athanasius returns to Alexandria.
  • 1245 – Thomas, the first known Bishop of Finland, is granted resignation after having confessed to torture and forgery.
  • 1440 – The Prussian Confederation is formed.
  • 1543 – Battle of Wayna Daga – A combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeats a Muslim army led by Ahmed Gragn.
  • 1613 – Mikhail I is elected unanimously as Tsar by a national assembly, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia.
  • 1743 – The premiere of George Frideric Handel’s oratorio, “Samson” takes place in London.
  • 1804 – The first self-propelling steam locomotive makes its outing at the Pen-y-Darren ironworks in Wales.
  • 1842 – John Greenough is granted the first U.S. patent for the sewing machine.
  • 1848 – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish the Communist Manifesto.
  • 1874 – The Oakland Daily Tribune publishes its first newspaper.
  • 1878 – The first telephone book is issued in New Haven, Connecticut.
  • 1885 – The newly completed Washington Monument is dedicated.
  • 1893 – Thomas Edison receives two U.S. patents for a “Cut Out for Incandescent Electric Lamps” and for a “Stop Device.”
  • 1912 – Ioannina is incorporated into the Greek state after the Balkan Wars.
  • 1916 – World War I: In France, the Battle of Verdun begins.
  • 1918 – The last Carolina parakeet dies in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • 1919 – Kurt Eisner, German socialist, is assassinated. His death results in the establishment of the Bavarian Soviet Republic and parliament and government fleeing Munich, Germany.
  • 1925 – The New Yorker publishes its first issue.
  • 1937 – Initial flight of the first successful flying car, Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile.
  • 1937 – The League of Nations bans foreign national “volunteers” in the Spanish Civil War.
  • 1945 – World War II: Japanese Kamikaze planes sink the escort carrier Bismarck Sea and damage the Saratoga.
  • 1947 – In New York City, Edwin Land demonstrates the first “instant camera,” the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.
  • 1948 – NASCAR is incorporated.
  • 1952 – The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolishes identity cards in the UK to “set the people free.”
  • 1952 – In Dhaka, East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) police open fire on a procession of students that was demanding the establishment of Bengali as the official language, killing four people and starting a country-wide protest which led to the recognition of Bengali as one of the national languages of Pakistan. The day was later declared as “International Mother Language Day” by UNESCO.
  • 1953 – Francis Crick and James D. Watson discover the structure of the DNA molecule.
  • 1958 – The Peace symbol is designed and completed by Gerald Holtom, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.
  • 1960 – Cuban leader Fidel Castro nationalizes all businesses in Cuba.
  • 1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.
  • 1970 – Swissair Flight 330: A mid-air bomb explosion and subsequent crash kills 38 passengers and nine crew members near Zürich, Switzerland.
  • 1971 – The Convention on Psychotropic Substances is signed at Vienna.
  • 1972 – President Richard Nixon visits the People’s Republic of China to normalize Sino-American relations.
  • 1972 – The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 lands on the Moon.
  • 1973 – Over the Sinai Desert, Israeli fighter aircraft shoot down a Libyan Airlines jet killing 108.
  • 1974 – The last Israeli soldiers leave the west bank of the Suez Canal pursuant to a truce with Egypt.
  • 1975 – Watergate scandal: Former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are sentenced to prison.
  • 1988 – Televangelist Jimmy Swaggert confesses his sins to his congregation.
  • 1995 – Steve Fossett lands in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.
  • 2004 – The first European political party organization, the European Greens, is established in Rome.
  • 2007 – Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigns from office. His resignation is rejected by the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano.

February 21 – Birthdays:

  • 1484 – Elector Joachim I of Brandenburg (d. 1535)
  • 1556 – Sethus Calvisius, German calendar reformer (d. 1615)
  • 1675 – Franz Xaver Josef von Unertl, Bavarian politician (d. 1750)
  • 1705 – Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke, British naval officer (d. 1781)
  • 1721 – John McKinly, American physician (d. 1796)
  • 1723 – Louis-Pierre Anquetil, French historian (d. 1808)
  • 1728 – Tsar Peter III of Russia, husband of Catherine the Great (d. 1762)
  • 1783 – Princess Catharina of Württemberg, Queen consort of Westphalia (d. 1835)
  • 1791 – Carl Czerny, Austrian composer (d. 1857)
  • 1794 – Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Mexican president (d. 1876)
  • 1801 – John Henry Newman, English Catholic cardinal (d. 1890)
  • 1817 – Jose Zorrilla y Moral, Spanish dramatist (d. 1893)
  • 1821 – Charles Scribner, American publisher (d. 1871)
  • 1836 – Léo Delibes, French composer (d. 1891)
  • 1844 – Charles-Marie Widor, French composer (d. 1937)
  • 1860 – Karel Matej Capek-Chod, Czech journalist (d. 1927)
  • 1860 – Goscombe John, Welsh sculptor
  • 1865 – John Haden Badley, English school founder (d. 1967)
  • 1867 – Otto Hermann Kahn, German millionaire (d. 1934)
  • 1875 – Jeanne Calment, French supercentenarian and longest-lived human on record (d. 1997)
  • 1876 – Pyotr Konchalovsky, Russian painter (d. 1956)
  • 1878 – The Mother, Indian spiritual leader (d. 1973)
  • 1880 – Waldemar Bonsels, German writer (d. 1952)
  • 1885 – Sacha Guitry, Russian dramatist (d. 1957)
  • 1888 – Clemence Dane, British novelist and playwright (d. 1965)
  • 1893 – Celia Lovsky, Russian-born actress (d. 1979)
  • 1893 – Andrés Segovia, Spanish guitarist (d. 1987)
  • 1895 – Carl Peter Henrik Dam Danish biochemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1976)
  • 1900 – Madeleine Renaud, French theater actress (d. 1994)
  • 1903 – Fairfax M. Cone, American advertising executive (d. 1977)
  • 1903 – Anaïs Nin, French writer (d. 1977)
  • 1903 – Raymond Queneau, French poet and novelist (d. 1976)
  • 1907 – W. H. Auden, English poet (d. 1973)
  • 1910 – Douglas Bader, British pilot (d. 1982)
  • 1910 – Carmine Galante, Italian-born gangster (d. 1979)
  • 1910 – Eddie Waring, British sports commentator (d. 1986)
  • 1913 – Roger Laurent, Belgian racing driver (d. 1997)
  • 1915 – Ann Sheridan, American actress (d. 1967)
  • 1917 – Lucille Bremer, American actress (d. 1996)
  • 1924 – Robert Mugabe first President of Zimbabwe
  • 1925 – Sam Peckinpah, American director (d. 1984)
  • 1927 – Erma Bombeck, American humorist (d. 1996)
  • 1927 – Hubert de Givenchy, French fashion designer
  • 1927 – Pierre Mercure, French-Canadian musician and composer (d. 1966)
  • 1929 – Roberto “Chespirito” Carlos Bolaños, Mexican actor
  • 1929 – James Beck, English actor (d. 1973)
  • 1933 – Nina Simone, American singer (d. 2003)
  • 1934 – Rue McClanahan, American actress
  • 1935 – Mark McManus, Scottish actor (d. 1994)
  • 1935 – Jean Pelletier, French Canadian political operative
  • 1936 – Barbara Jordan, American politician (d. 1996)
  • 1937 – King Harald V of Norway
  • 1937 – Gary Lockwood, American actor
  • 1940 – John Lewis, American politician
  • 1940 – Peter Gethin, British racing driver
  • 1941 – James Wong, Hong Kong composer (d. 2004)
  • 1942 – Margarethe von Trotta, German actress and film director
  • 1943 – David Geffen, American record producer
  • 1945 – Paul Newton, British musician
  • 1945 – D’Anna Fortunato, American mezzo-soprano
  • 1946 – Tyne Daly, American actress
  • 1946 – Anthony Daniels, British actor
  • 1946 – Alan Rickman, English actor
  • 1946 – Bob Ryan, Boston sports columnist
  • 1946 – Vito Rizzuto, Sicilian-born alleged mafia boss
  • 1947 – Johnny Echols, American musician
  • 1947 – Olympia Snowe, American politician
  • 1947 – Victor Sokolov, Russian journalist (d. 2006)
  • 1949 – Jerry Harrison, American musician
  • 1949 – Ronnie Hellström, Swedish footballer
  • 1951 – Vince Welnick, American musician (The Grateful Dead) (d. 2006)
  • 1952 – Jean Jacques Burnel, British musician
  • 1953 – Christine Ebersole, American actress
  • 1953 – William Petersen, American actor
  • 1954 – Mike Pickering, English disc jockey and musician
  • 1954 – Ivo Van Damme, Belgian athlete (d. 1976)
  • 1955 – Sir Steven Fayburgh, British diplomat
  • 1955 – Kelsey Grammer, American actor
  • 1958 – Jake Burns, Irish singer
  • 1958 – Mary Chapin Carpenter, American singer
  • 1958 – Jack Coleman, American actor
  • 1958 – Alan Trammell, baseball player and manager
  • 1959 – José María Cano, Spanish musician
  • 1959 – Emmett McAuliffe, American radio show host and lawyer
  • 1960 – Steve Wynn, American singer
  • 1961 – Davey Allison, American race car driver (d. 1993)
  • 1961 – Christopher Atkins, American actor
  • 1961 – Martha Hackett, American actress
  • 1961 – Bertha Faye, American wrestler (d. 2001)
  • 1962 – Vanessa Feltz, British television presenter
  • 1962 – Chuck Palahniuk, American writer
  • 1962 – David Foster Wallace, American writer
  • 1963 – William Baldwin, American actor
  • 1964 – Mark E. Kelly and Scott J. Kelly, American astronauts
  • 1964 – Jane Tomlinson, British cancer campaigner (d. 2007)
  • 1967 – Leroy Burrell, American runner
  • 1969 – James Dean Bradfield, Welsh musician
  • 1969 – Tony Meola, American footballer
  • 1969 – Eric Wilson, American musician
  • 1970 – Michael Slater, Australian cricketer
  • 1972 – Seo Taiji, Korean musician
  • 1973 – Heri Joensen, Faroese musician
  • 1973 – Bowie Tsang, Taiwanese singer and TV host
  • 1974 – Iván Campo, Spanish footballer
  • 1974 – Roberto Heras, Spanish cyclist
  • 1975 – Chris (CP) Powell, American columnist
  • 1976 – Ryan Smyth, Canadian hockey player
  • 1977 – Steve Francis, American basketball player
  • 1977 – Chad Hutchinson, baseball and football player
  • 1977 – Kevin Rose, American television host and Internet entrepreneur
  • 1978 – Park Eun-hye, South Korean actress
  • 1978 – Kim Ha Neul, South Korean actress
  • 1978 – Nicole Parker, American actress
  • 1979 – Pascal Chimbonda, French footballer
  • 1979 – Carly “Carlito” Colón, Puerto Rican professional wrestler
  • 1979 – Lonnie Ford, American football player
  • 1979 – Jennifer Love Hewitt, American actress
  • 1980 – Brad Fast, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1980 – Jim Vandermeer, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1980 – Parthiva Sureshwaren, Indian racing driver
  • 1980 – Tiziano Ferro, Italian singer
  • 1982 – Bernhard Auinger, Austrian racing driver
  • 1983 – Braylon Edwards, American football player
  • 1983 – Franklin Gutiérrez, Venezuelan baseball player
  • 1984 – Andrew Ellis, New Zealand rugby union player
  • 1984 – David Odonkor, German footballer
  • 1984 – Karina, Japanese model and actress
  • 1985 – Bob Burton, American speedcuber
  • 1985 – Georgios Samaras, Greek footballer
  • 1986 – Charlotte Church, Welsh singer
  • 1986 – Prince Amedeo of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este
  • 1987 – Ellen Page, Canadian actress
  • 1987 – Anthony Walker, British murder victim (d. 2005)
  • 1989 – Corbin Bleu, American actor and singer
  • 1989 – Kristin Herrera, American actress
  • 1989 – Scout Taylor-Compton, American actress
  • 1989 – Josh Walker, English footballer

February 21 – Deaths:

  • 1437 – King James I of Scotland (b. 1394)
  • 1471 – John of Rokycan, Czech Catholic archbishop
  • 1513 – Pope Julius II (b. 1443)
  • 1543 – Ahmed Gragn, Sultan of Adal
  • 1554 – Hieronymus Bock, German botanist (b. 1498)
  • 1595 – Robert Southwell, English Jesuit priest and poet (executed)
  • 1668 – John Thurloe, English Puritan spy (b. 1616)
  • 1677 – Baruch Spinoza, Dutch philosopher (b. 1632)
  • 1715 – Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, Governor of the Province of Maryland (b. 1637)
  • 1730 – Pope Benedict XIII (b. 1649)
  • 1788 – Johann Georg Palitzsch, German astronomer (b. 1723)
  • 1821 – Georg Friedrich von Martens, German diplomat (b. 1756)
  • 1824 – Eugène de Beauharnais, son of Napoleon’s wife, Josephine (b. 1781)
  • 1846 – Emperor Ninko of Japan (b. 1800)
  • 1862 – Justinus Kerner, German poet (b. 1786)
  • 1901 – George Francis FitzGerald, Irish mathematician (b. 1851)
  • 1919 – Kurt Eisner, German socialist (assassinated), leader of socialist revolution of 1918 in Bavaria (b. 1867)
  • 1920 – Jacinta Marto, witness of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima (b. 1910)
  • 1926 – Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1853)
  • 1934 – Augusto Nicolás Calderón Sandino, Nicaraguan patriot (assassinated) (b. 1895)
  • 1938 – George Ellery Hale, American astronomer (b. 1868)
  • 1941 – Frederick Banting, Canadian physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1891)
  • 1944 – Ferenc Szisz, Hungarian-born race car driver (b. 1873)
  • 1945 – Eric Liddell, Scottish runner (b. 1902)
  • 1946 – José Streel, Belgian World War II collaborator (b. 1911)
  • 1949 – Tan Malaka, Indonesian nationalist activist and communist leader (b. 1894)
  • 1958 – Duncan Edwards, English footballer (b. 1936)
  • 1960 – Jacques Becker, French film director and screenwriter (b. 1906)
  • 1965 – Malcolm X, American black activist (b. 1925)
  • 1966 – Paul Comtois, French Canadian politician (b. 1895)  
  • 1967 – Charles Beaumont, American writer (b. 1929)
  • 1968 – Howard Walter Florey, Australian-born pharmocologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1898)
  • 1972 – Bronislava Nijinska, Polish-Russian ballet dancer (b. 1891)
  • 1972 – Eugène Tisserant, French Catholic candinal (b. 1884)
  • 1974 – Tim Horton, Canadian hockey player (b. 1930)
  • 1978 – Mieczyslaw Zywczynski, Polish historian and priest (b. 1901)
  • 1980 – Alfred Andersch, German writer
  • 1982 – Murray the K, American impresario and disc jockey (b. 1922)
  • 1984 – Michail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov, Russian writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
  • 1985 – Louis Hayward, British actor (b. 1909)
  • 1986 – Helen Hooven Santmyer, American writer (b. 1895)
  • 1986 – Shigechiyo Izumi, Japanese sugarcane farmer, also the world’s oldest man ever (b. 1865)
  • 1989 – Alex Thépot, French footballer (b. 1906)
  • 1991 – Dame Margot Fonteyn, English ballet dancer (b. 1919)
  • 1994 – Johannes Steinhoff, German fighter pilot & NATO commander (b.1913)
  • 1996 – Morton Gould, American composer (b. 1913)
  • 1999 – Gertrude B. Elion, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1918)
  • 1999 – Wilmer David Mizell, baseball player (b. 1930)
  • 2000 – Antonio Díaz-Miguel, Spanish basketball coach (b. 1933)
  • 2002 – Harold Furth, Austrian-born physicist (b. 1939)
  • 2002 – John Thaw, English actor (b. 1942)
  • 2003 – Eddie Thomson, Scottish football player and coach (b. 1947)
  • 2004 – John Charles, Welsh footballer (b. 1931)
  • 2004 – Guido Molinari, Canadian artist (b. 1933)
  • 2005 – Ara Berberian, American opera singer (b. 1930)
  • 2005 – Gérard Bessette, Quebec novelist and poet (b. 1920)
  • 2005 – Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Cuban novelist (b. 1929)
  • 2005 – Eugene Scott, American religious broadcaster (b. 1929)
  • 2008 – Sunny Lowry, First British woman to swim the English Channel (b. 1911)

February 21 – Holidays:

  • Language Martyrs’ Day – A day celebrated by Bengali speaking people for gaining right of mother tongue.
  • International Mother Language Day (UNESCO).
  • In the Roman Catholic Church:
    • Saint Peter Damiani
    • Saint Pepin of Landen
    • Saint Randoald

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