Today in History: December 21 | HistoryNet MENU

Today in History: December 21

What Happened This Day In History.

A chronological timetable of historical events that occurred on this day in history. Historical facts of the day in the areas of military, politics, science, music, sports, arts, entertainment and more. Discover what happened today in history.


Today in History
December 21

68 Vespian, a gruff-spoken general of humble origins, enters Rome and is named emperor by the Senate.
1620 The Pilgrims land at or near Plymouth Rock.
1708 French forces seize control of the eastern shore of Newfoundland after winning a victory at St. John’s.
1790 Samuel Slater opens the first cotton mill in the United States (in Rhode Island).
1862 The U.S. Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor to be awarded to Navy personnel who have distinguished themselves by their gallantry in action.
1866 Indians, led by Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, kill Captain William J. Fetterman and 79 other men who had ventured out from Fort Phil Kearny (in present-day northeastern Wyoming) to cut wood.
1910 Over 2.5 million plague victims are reported in the An-Hul province of China.
1928 President Calvin Coolidge signs the Boulder Dam bill.
1944 German troops surround the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne in Belgium.
1945 General George S. Patton dies at the age of 60 after being injured in a car accident.
1946 An earthquake and tidal wave kill hundreds in Japan.
1963 The Turk minority riots in Cyprus to protest anti-Turkish revisions in the constitution.
1964 Great Britain’s House of Commons votes to ban the death penalty.
1965 Four pacifists are indicted in New York for burning draft cards — Thomas C. Cornell, 31, co-secretary of the Catholic Peace Fellowship; Roy Lisker, 27, a volunteer of the Catholic Worker Movement; James E. Wilson, 21, a volunteer at the Catholic Worker Movement and a member of the Fellowship for Reconciliation; and M P, Edelman, a full-time worker for the War Resisters League.
1969 American draft evaders gather for a holiday dinner in Montreal, Canada.
1986 500,000 Chinese students gather in Shanghai’s People’s Square calling for democratic reforms, including freedom of the press.
1988 Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York explodes in midair over Lockerbie, Scotland, an hour after departure. All 259 passengers were killed in the explosion caused by a bomb– hidden inside an audio cassette player — that detonated inside the cargo area when the plane was at an altitude of 31,000 feet. A shower of airplane parts falling from the sky also killed 11 Lockerbie residents.
1994 Popocatepetl, a volcano in Mexico spews forth gases and ash after nearly a half-century of dormancy.
1995 The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control.
2004 A suicide bomber attacks the forward operating base next to the US military airfield at Mosul, Iraq, killing 22 people; it is the deadliest suicide attack on US soldiers during the Iraq War.
Born on December 21
1804 Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of Great Britain.
1879 Joseph Stalin, Communist leader of the Soviet Union.
1911 Josh Gibson, baseball player for the Negro Leagues and the Home-Run King.
1918 Kurt Waldheim, controversial fourth Secretary General of the United Nations.
1937 Jane Fonda, actress, political activist, exercise guru; her films include Klute and Coming Home.
1940 Frank Zappa, bandleader, composer, guitarist, satirist, filmmaker and advocate of creative freedom.
1954 Chris Evert (Chris Evert-Lloyd), the No. 1 women’s pro tennis player in the world for 260 weeks in the 1970s; she reached 34 Grand Slam singles finals, a record unmatched by any other pro, female or male.
1959 Florence Griffith Joyner, track star, Olympic medalist. She died unexpectedly of heart failure at age thirty-eight on September 21, 1998.
1966 Kiefer Sutherland, British-born Canadian actor, producer, director; best known as Jack Bauer on the 24 TV series, a role that garnered him several awards including an Emmy and Golden Globe.