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On This Day In History - March 21

By CM Chaney · March 21, 2024

On This Day In History - March 21

"On This Day in History" is a captivating journey through time, revisiting the most significant events that have occurred on this very date throughout the years.

From monumental political decisions and groundbreaking scientific discoveries to unforgettable moments in sports and cultural milestones, each article in this series will transport you back to a specific day, offering a glimpse into the past and revealing how these events have shaped our world.

Join us as we uncover the fascinating stories that have left an indelible mark on history.  Wikimedia

1556: Protestant Archbishop Thomas Cranmer Burned at the Stake

Thomas Cranmer, the first Protestant archbishop of Canterbury, was executed by burning for heresy under the reign of Roman Catholic queen Mary I, known as "Bloody Mary."  Wikimedia/Gerlach Flicke

1685: Johann Sebastian Bach, Legendary Composer, Born in Germany

Johann Sebastian Bach, widely regarded as the greatest composer in history, was born on this day in Germany, leaving an unparalleled legacy in classical music.  Wikimedia/Johnhuxley

1768: Joseph Fourier, Influential French Mathematician, Born in Auxerre

Joseph Fourier, the French mathematician whose work "The Analytical Theory of Heat" (1822) greatly influenced mathematical physics, was born on this day in Auxerre, France.  Wikimedia/Amédée Félix Barthélemy Geille

1806: Benito Juárez, Mexican National Hero, Born in Oaxaca

Benito Juárez, a revered Mexican national hero who served as the country's president, was born on this day in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca.  Wikimedia

1880: Abstract Expressionism Pioneer Hans Hofmann Born in Germany

German painter Hans Hofmann, an influential art educator and trailblazer in improvisational techniques, paving the way for American Abstract Expressionism, was born on this day.  Wikimedia/David Adam Kess

1918: WWI: Second Battle of the Somme Commences

On this day during World War I, the Second Battle of the Somme began, marking another major offensive on the Western Front.  Wikimedia

1925: Tennessee's Butler Act Bans Teaching Evolution, Sparking Scopes Trial

Tennessee Governor signed the Butler Act, prohibiting the teaching of evolution in state schools, leading to the famous Scopes Trial; the law remained until 1967.  Wikimedia/Mike Licht

1960: Sharpeville Massacre: South African Police Kill 70 Black Protesters

In Sharpeville, Gauteng, South Africa, police opened fire on approximately 70 Black African demonstrators protesting the country's discriminatory pass laws, killing them in what became known as the Sharpeville Massacre.  Wikimedia/Matt Brown

1963: Alcatraz Federal Prison Closes Its Doors

The notorious Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, located on San Francisco Bay and home to infamous inmates like Al Capone and the "Birdman," Robert Stroud, officially closed on this day in 1963.  Wikimedia/Chris6d

1965: MLK Jr. Leads Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery

Martin Luther King, Jr. and fellow civil rights activists embarked on a protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to advocate for voting rights and racial equality.  Wikimedia

1980: US Boycotts Moscow Olympics Over Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

President Jimmy Carter declared that the United States would boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow as a protest against the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.  Wikimedia/Валентин Ботенков

1980: "Who Shot J.R.?" - Dallas Cliffhanger Captivates America

The season 3 finale of Dallas left viewers stunned as J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) was shot, sparking the iconic phrase "Who shot J.R.?" that became a cultural phenomenon.  Wikimedia/slgckgc

1990: Namibia Gains Independence After Century of Foreign Rule

Namibia achieved its independence on this day, ending 106 years of German and South African colonial rule over the Southern African nation.  Wikimedia/President's Secretariat

2006: Jack Dorsey Sends First-Ever Public Tweet

Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey posted the platform's first public tweet, simply stating, "just setting up my twttr," marking the beginning of the social media giant.  Wikimedia/JD Lasica

2017: IRA Leader and Good Friday Agreement Negotiator Martin McGuinness Dies at 66

Martin McGuinness, an influential Irish politician and Sinn Féin member who played a key role in negotiating the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, passed away aged 66.  Wikimedia/Sinn Féin