Nov 21 2010

On This Day in History: November 21

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 21 is the 325th day of the year (326th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 40 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1934, Ella Fitzgerald wins Amateur Night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. A young and gangly would-be dancer took to the stage of Harlem’s Apollo Theater to participate in a harrowing tradition known as Amateur Night. Finding herself onstage as a result of pure chance after her name was drawn out of a hat, the aspiring dancer spontaneously decided to turn singer instead-a change of heart that would prove momentous not only for herself personally, but also for the future course of American popular music. The performer in question was a teenaged Ella Fitzgerald, whose decision to sing rather than dance on this day in 1934 set her on a course toward becoming a musical legend. It also led her to victory at Amateur Night at the Apollo, a weekly event that was then just a little more than a year old but still thrives today

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as the “First Lady of Song” and “Lady Ella,” was an American jazz and song vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves (Db3 to Db6), she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a “horn-like” improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

She is considered to be a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Over a recording career that lasted 59 years, she was the winner of 14 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.

 164 BC – Judas Maccabaeus, son of Mattathias of the Hasmonean family, restores the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is commemorated each year by the festival of Hanukkah.

235 – Pope Anterus succeeds Pontian as the nineteenth pope. During the persecutions of emperor Maximinus Thrax he is martyred.

1272 – Following Henry III of England’s death on November 16, his son Prince Edward becomes King of England.

1620 – Plymouth Colony settlers sign the Mayflower Compact (November 11, O.S.).

1783 – In Paris, Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent, Marquis d’Arlandes, make the first untethered hot air balloon flight.

1789 – North Carolina ratifies the United States Constitution and is admitted as the 12th U.S. state.

1791 – Colonel Napoleon Bonaparte is promoted to full general and appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the French Republic.

1861 – American Civil War: Confederate President Jefferson Davis appoints Judah Benjamin secretary of war.

1877 – Thomas Edison announces his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound.

1894 – Port Arthur massacre: Port Arthur, Manchuria falls to the Japanese, a decisive victory of the First Sino-Japanese War.

1905 – Albert Einstein’s paper, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?, is published in the journal “Annalen der Physik”. This paper reveals the relationship between energy and mass. This leads to the mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc2.

1910 – Sailors onboard Brazil’s most powerful military units, including the brand-new warships Minas Geraes, Sao Paulo, and Bahia, violently rebel in what is now known as the Revolta da Chibata (Revolt of the Whip).

1916 – World War I: A mine explodes and sinks HMHS Britannic in the Aegean Sea, killing 30 people.

1918 – Flag of Estonia, previously used by pro-independence activists, is formally adopted as national flag of the Republic of Estonia.

1920 – Irish War of Independence: In Dublin, 31 people are killed in what became known as “Bloody Sunday”. This included fourteen British informants, fourteen Irish civilians and three Irish Republican Army prisoners.

1922 – Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia takes the oath of office, becoming the first female United States Senator.

1927 – Columbine Mine Massacre: Striking coal miners are allegedly attacked with machine guns by a detachment of state police dressed in civilian clothes.

1942 – The completion of the Alaska Highway (also known as the Alcan Highway) is celebrated (however, the highway is not usable by general vehicles until 1943).

1953 – The British Natural History Museum announces that the “Piltdown Man” skull, initially believed to be one of the most important fossilized hominid skulls ever found, is a hoax.

1962 – The Chinese People’s Liberation Army declares a unilateral cease-fire in the Sino-Indian War.

1964 – The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opens to traffic (at the time it is the world’s longest suspension bridge).

1964 – Second Vatican Council: The third session of the Roman Catholic Church’s ecumenical council closes.

1967 – Vietnam War: American General William Westmoreland tells news reporters: “I am absolutely certain that whereas in 1965 the enemy was winning, today he is certainly losing.”

1969 – U.S. President Richard Nixon and Japanese Premier Eisaku Sato agree in Washington, D.C. on the return of Okinawa to Japanese control in 1972. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. is to retain its rights to bases on the island, but these are to be nuclear-free.

1969 – The first permanent ARPANET link is established between UCLA and SRI.

1970 – Vietnam War: Operation Ivory Coast – A joint Air Force and Army team raids the Son Tay prison camp in an attempt to free American prisoners of war thought to be held there.

1971 – Indian troops, partly aided by Mukti Bahini (Bengali guerrillas), defeat the Pakistan army in the Battle of Garibpur.

1974 – The Birmingham Pub Bombings kill 21 people. The Birmingham Six are sentenced to life in prison for the crime but subsequently acquitted.

1977 – Minister of Internal Affairs Allan Highet announces that ‘the national anthems of New Zealand shall be the traditional anthem “God Save the Queen” and the poem “God Defend New Zealand”, written by Thomas Bracken, as set to music by John Joseph Woods, both being of equal status as national anthems appropriate to the occasion.

1979 – The United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan is attacked by a mob and set on fire, killing four. (see: Foreign relations of Pakistan)

1980 – A deadly fire breaks out at the MGM Grand Hotel in Paradise, Nevada (now Bally’s Las Vegas). 87 people are killed and more than 650 are injured in the worst disaster in Nevada history.

1980 – Lake Peigneur drains into an underlying salt deposit. A misplaced Texaco oil probe had been drilled into the Diamond Crystal Salt Mine, causing water to flow down into the mine, eroding the edges of the hole. The resulting whirlpool sucked the drilling platform, several barges, houses and trees thousands of feet down to the bottom of the dissolving salt deposit.

1985 – United States Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard is arrested for spying after being caught giving Israel classified information on Arab nations. He is subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

1986 – Iran-Contra Affair: National Security Council member Oliver North and his secretary start to shred documents implicating them in the sale of weapons to Iran and channeling the proceeds to help fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

1990 – The Charter of Paris for a New Europe refocuses the efforts of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europeon post-Cold War issues.

1995 – The Dayton Peace Agreement is initialed at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio, ending three and a half years of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The agreement is formally ratified in Paris, on December 14 that same year.

1996 – A propane explosion at the Humberto Vidal shoe store and office building in San Juan, Puerto Rico kills 33.

2002 – NATO invites Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to become members.

2004 – The second round of the Ukrainian presidential election is held, giving rise to massive protests and controversy over the election’s integrity.

2004 – The island of Dominica is hit by the most destructive earthquake in its history. The northern half of the island receives the most damage, especially the town of Portsmouth. It is also felt in neighboring Guadeloupe, where one person is killed.

2004 – The Paris Club agrees to write off 80% (up to $100 billion) of Iraq’s external debt.

2006 – Anti-Syrian Lebanese Minister and MP Pierre Gemayel is assassinated in suburban Beirut.

Holidays and Observances

   * Armed Forces Day (Bangladesh)

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Pope Gelasius I

         o Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

   * National Adoption Day (United States)

   * World Hello Day (Unofficial)

   * World Television Day (International)