This Day in History

April 21


753BC  legendary date for the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus   2771
43BC  Mark Antony is defeated in the Battle of Mutina but opposing consul Hirtius killed—Octavian becomes leader of opposing forces   2061
900      The Laguna Copperplate inscription is the earliest known written document found in the Philippines   1119
1142      French scholastic philosopher and theologian Peter Abelard dies, age around 62   877
1509      Henry VIII ascends to the throne of England on the death of his father   510
1574      Cosimo I de' Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany, dies in Florence, age 54   445
1718      French mathematician and astronomer Philippe de La Hire dies, age 78   301
1749      George Frideric Handel's 'Music for the Royal Fireworks' is first performed in London's Vauxhall Gardens   270
1792      leading member of the Brazilian revolutionary movement Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, known as Tiradentes is executed, age 45   227
1816      English author Charlotte Brontë born in Yorkshire, England   203
1825      German mathematician Johann Friedrich Pfaff dies, age 59   194
1836      Texians led by Sam Houston defeat Santa Anna's army at San Jacinto   183
1838      John Muir born in Scotland   181
1855      first train to cross the Mississippi—Rock Island, Illinois to Davenport, Iowa   164
1861      Burke, Wills & King reach 'Dig' tree on Cooper's Creek—hours after it was evacuated   158
1910      American writer Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) dies, age 74   109
1918      German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron", is shot down, age 25   101
1924      Italian actress Eleonora Duse dies in Pittsburgh, age 65   95
1926      Elizabeth, Queen of the Unied Kingdom, born in London   93
1934      Daily Mail publishes the "Surgeon's Photograph" of the Loch Ness Monster—shown to a hoax in 1999   85
1940      Robert Moffat Losey (age 31) becomes the first U.S. serviceman killed in WWII—during a German bombardment in Norway   79
1951      American mathematician and Fields Medal winner Michael Hartley Freedman born in Los Angeles   68
1960      Brazil officially moves its capital from Rio de Janero to the new city of Brasilia   59
1962      Space Needle in Seattle opens—at 605 ft is the tallest structure at the time in the U.S. west of the Mississippi River   57
1965      English physicist and Nobel laureate Edward Victor Appleton dies in Edinburgh, age 72   54
1982      Rollie Fingers of the Milwaukee Brewers becomes the first pitcher to record 300 saves   37
1997      Pegasus launch vehicle carries samples of the remains of 24 persons into orbit—first private space burial   22
1998      French philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist Jean-François Lyotard dies in Paris, age 73   21
2003      American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and activist Nina Simone dies in France, age 70   16
2004      series of car bomb explosions in Basra, Iraq kills 74 and injures more than 100 others   15
2007      Michael Lopez-Alegria returns to earth after setting longest single mission space American record of 215 days   12
2009      American street photographer Vivian Dorothy Maier dies in Chicago, age 83   10
2009      UNESCO and the U.S. Library of Congress launch the World Digital Library   10
2011      Dutch theologian and feminist Catharina Joanna Maria Halkes dies, age 90   8
2012      American lawyer, activist, one of the Watergate Seven, and founder of Prison Fellowship Charles Wendell "Chuck" Colson dies, age 80   7
2012      American short story writer, novelist, and essayist Doris Betts dies in Pittsboro, North Carolina, age 79   7
2012      two trains collide head-on at Westerpark, in the west of Amsterdam, Netherlands—1 death and 116 injuries   7
2013      first launch of the privately developed (Orbital Sciences Corp) Antares rocket at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia   6
2014      American engineer and a pioneering contributor to liquid crystal displays George Harry Heilmeier dies in Plano, Texas, age 77   5
2014      Flint, Michigan switches its water source to the Flint River initiating water crisis leading to lead poisoning in up to 12,000 people   5
2015      American author and literary critic, Meyer Howard "Mike" Abrams (M.H. Abrams) dies in Ithica, New York, age 102   4
2015      Japan Railway maglev (magnetic levitation) train travels at a record 603 km/hr (374 mph)   4
2016      American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor Prince Rogers Nelson dies, age 57   3
2017      Cassini performs its 127th targeted and final encounter with Titan   2
2018      Japanese woman Nabi Tajima dies age 117, world's oldest documented person and last known born in the 19th century—4 Aug 1900   1
2018      American actor, comedian, and stunt performer (2' 8" tall or 81 cm) Verne Jay Troyer dies in Los Angeles, age 49   1
2019      multiple explosions target high-end hotels and churches across Sri Lanka—at least 207 killed and 500 others injured   0

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

day before yesterdayyesterday tomorrowday after tomorrow