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This Day in History - December 21

December 21

68 – Vespasian is named emperor of Rome by the Senate

72 – Thomas the Apostle dies

1118 – English archbishop Thomas Becket is born

1620 – The Pilgrims land near Plymouth Rock

1708 – After their victory at St. John’s, French forces seize control of the eastern shore of Newfoundland

1761 – Revolutionary War hero Patriot Robert Barnwell is born

1799 – Romantic poet William Wordsworth moves into Dove Cottage in Westmoreland, England, along with his sister Dorothy

1804 – Prime Minister of Great Britain, Benjamin Disraeli, is born

1861 – The “Trent Crisis” escalates when Lord Lyons, the British minister to the US meets with Secretary of State William Seward over the fate of the two Confederates arrested by the US Navy aboard the Trent, a British steamer

1862 – The US Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor to be awarded to Navy personnel

1866 – Captain William J. Fetterman and 79 other men who left Fort Phil Kearny to cut wood are killed by Indians led by Red Cloud and Crazy Horse

1879 – Communist leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, is born

1891 – The first basketball game, invented at Springfield College in Massachusetts by James Naismith, is played

1898 – Radium is discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie

1910 – 2.5 million plague victims are reported in the An-Hul province of China

1911 – Baseball player from the Negro Leagues, Josh Gibson, is born

1913 – The New York World publishes the first crossword puzzle

1915 – Sir William Robertson is appointed the new chief of the Imperial General Staff over British forces

1918 – Fourth Secretary-General of the UN, Kurt Waldheim, is born

1918 – Amateur ice hockey star Hobey Baker dies in a plane crash in Toul, France

1928 – President Calvin Coolidge signs the Boulder Dam bill

1935 – German journalist Kurt Tucholsky dies

1937 – Actress, political activist and exercise guru, Jane Fonda, is born

1937 – Disney’s Snow White premieres and is the first feature-length color and sound cartoon

1940 – Bandleader, composer, guitarist, satirist, filmmaker and creative freedom advocate, Frank Zappa, is born

1940 – American author F. Scott Fitzgerald dies

1944 – The 101st Airborne Division is surrounded by the Germans at Bastogne in Belgium

1945 – General George S. Patton dies from injuries that occurred during an auto accident

1946 – Hundreds are killed by an earthquake and tidal wave in Japan

1948 – American actor Samuel Leroy Jackson is born

1954 – Number one women’s pro tennis player in the world for 260 weeks in the 1970s, who reached 34 Grand Slam singles finals, a record unmatched by any other pro, neither male or female, Chris Evert, is born

1958 – Charles de Gaulle is elected the first president of the Fifth Republic of France

1959 – Track star, Olympic medalist, Florence Griffith, is born

1963 – The Turk minority riots in Cyprus to protest anti-Turkish revisions to the constitution

1963 – English cricket player Jack Hobbs dies

1965 – Four pacifists are indicted in New York for burning draft cards

1965 – International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is adopted by the UN

1966 – British-born Canadian actor, producer, and director Kiefer Sutherland is born

1967 – The film “The Graduate” opens in New York.  The film helped many actors achieve worldwide fame such as Dustin Hoffman, helped Simon & Garfunkel sell millions of albums and made the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider famous

1968 – The first manned mission to the moon, Apollo 8, launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida

1969 – American draft evaders gather for a holiday dinner in Canada

1969 – Thailand announces that it will soon withdraw its troops from Vietnam

1970 – President Richard Nixon meets Elvis Presley at the White House, where Presley offered his services of aiding in the war on drugs.  Nixon never took him up on his offer

1972 – The Defense Department announces the loss of eight B-52 bombers and several fighter-bombers, destroyed during Operation Linebacker II

1975 – Carlos the Jackal leads an attack on oil ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), who had gathered for a meeting in Vienna, Austria.  German and Arab terrorists killed three people and took 63 hostages, including eleven of the OPEC ministers.  Carlos demanded an anti-Israel political statement be broadcast over radio and for a bus and jet to be provided for the terrorists and hostages.  Austrian authorities complied and all hostages were released unharmed in Algeria.  OPEC didn’t hold another summit for 25 years. The Jackal evaded capture until 1994, when the French found him in Sudan.  In 1997, a French jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison

1980 – Socialite Martha “Sunny” Crawford von Bulow is found on her bathroom floor in a coma in what appeared to be an insulin overdose.  Her husband, Claus von Bulow, was charged with two counts of attempted murder when Sunny’s personal secretary came forward to say Claus kept a black bag containing insulin in his closet.  This was the second time Sunny had been found in an insulin-induced comatose state, although she recovered quickly from the first.  It was found that Claus had been having an affair and his mistress had given him an ultimatum, the timeframe of which corresponded with Sunny’s first insulin overdose.  After Claus was convicted, he hired famous defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who was successful at having the conviction overturned.  Sunny’s children filed suit against Claus who settled by agreeing to renounce all claims to Sunny’s $75 million fortune.  Sunny stayed in a comatose state until her death in 2008

1982 – American baseball player Philip Humber is born

1986 – 500,000 Chinese students gather in Shanghai’s People’s Square calling for democratic reforms

1988 – A bomb hidden in an audio cassette player, aboard Pan Am Flight 103 explodes in midair over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and debris, falling from the sky also killed 11 people on the ground

1991 – 11 of the 12 Soviet republics announce they are forming the Commonwealth of Independent States

1994 – After nearly a half-century of dormancy, a volcano in Mexico known as Popocatepetl spews gasses and ash

1995 – The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control

1996 – Co-creator of children’s books “Curious George,” Margret Rey, dies

2004 – The deadliest suicide bombing attack on US soldiers during the Iraq War takes place at a forward operating base next to the US military airfield at Mosul, killing 22 people


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the owner of Madison's Media, Madison's CPC and the Chief Administrative Officer for Lanterns. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and has two adult children. Writers seeking additional exposure: Ask how you can contribute!


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