This Day in History

February 21


1245      Thomas, the first known Bishop of Finland, is allowed to resign after confessing to torture and forgery   773
1437      James I, King of Scotland, is assassinated, after a reign of 31 years, age 42   581
1440      Prussian Confederation formed at Marienwerder by a group of 53 nobles and clergy and 19 cities in Prussia   578
1543      combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeated the Muslim army in the Battle of Wayne Daga   475
1613      Mikhail I Fyodorovich Romanov is elected Tsar of Russia by the national assembly—initiating the Romanov Dynasty   405
1677      Jewish-Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza dies in The Hague, age 44   341
1804      first full-scale self-propelled steam locomotive debuts in Wales—built by Richard Trevithick   214
1808      Russian troops invade Finland without warning preciptating one and half year Finnish War—ends with Finland separated from Sweden   210
1823      Irish poet Charles Wolfe dies in County Cork, Ireland, age 31   195
1828      Cherokee Phoenix is the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the U.S. and the first published in a Native American language   190
1842      John Greenough is granted the first U.S. patent for the sewing machine   176
1848      German political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish 'The Communist Manifesto'   170
1862      Battle of Valverde in New Mexico, ends with a Confederate victory but depleted Confederates effectively halt their advance westward   156
1865      cast-steel plow is patented by John Deere—opens American prairie to cultivation   153
1874      Oakland Tribune founded as the Oakland Daily Tribune by George Staniford and Benet A. Dewes   144
1878      first telephone directory published—New Haven, Connecticut, with 50 names   140
1885      Washington Monument dedicated   133
1894      French painter Gustave Caillebotte dies, age 45   124
1916      German bombardment begins Battle of Verdun—ends 10 months later with more than a quarter million dead, half million wounded   102
1918      last Carolina parakeet dies in the Cincinnati zoo   100
1919      first woman U.S. army surgeon Mary Edwards Walker, only woman to receive Medal of Honor, dies, age 86   99
1925      first issue of The New Yorker published   93
1926      Dutch physicist and Nobel laureate (1913) Heike Kamerlingh Onnes dies in Leiden, age 72   92
1938      American solar astronomer George Ellery Hale dies, age 69   80
1947      Edwin Land first demonstrates the Polaroid Land Camera   71
1948      formation of NASCAR   70
1965      civil rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated in New York City, age 39   53
1972      Luna 20 lands on the moon to collect lunar soil samples and return them to earth   46
1993      Danish seismologist and geophysicist Inge Lehmann dies in Cpoenhagen, age 104   25
1995      Steve Fossett lands in Saskatchewan, Canada—becomes the first person to make a solo balloon flight across the Pacific   23
1996      American composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist Morton Gould dies, age 82   22
1999      American biochemist, pharmacologist, and Nobel laureate (1988) Gertrude Belle Elion dies in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, age 81   19
2000      inaugural celebration of International Mother Language Day   18
2003      pioneering American computer engineer Julian Bigelow dies in Princeton, New Jersey, age 89   15
2005      Cuban novelist, essayist, translator, screenwriter, and critic Guillermo Cabrera Infante (G. Caín) dies in London, age 75   13
2006      launch of AKARI, JAXA's infrared astronomical satellite   12
2012      British artist Leonard Rosoman dies, age 98   6
2013      two bombs explode in a crowed shopping area of Hyderabad, India—18 killed and 131 others injured   5
2016      British test pilot and the most-decorated pilot in the history of the Royal Navy Eric Melrose "Winkle" Brown dies, age 97   2
2018      American evangelical preacher William Franklin Graham Jr. (Billy Graham) dies in Montreat, North Carolina, age 99   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.

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