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This Day in History: February 21


1828 – Initial issue of the Cherokee Phoenix is the first periodical to use the Cherokee syllabary invented by Sequoyah.

1842 – John Greenough is granted the first U.S. patent for the sewing machine.

1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Valverde is fought near Fort Craig in New Mexico Territory.

1878 – The first telephone directory is issued in New Haven, Connecticut.

1885 – The newly completed Washington Monument is dedicated.

1918 – The last Carolina parakeet dies in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

1925 – The New Yorker publishes its first issue.

1945 – World War II: Japanese kamikaze planes sink the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea and damage the USS Saratoga.

1947 – In New York City, Edwin Land demonstrates the first "instant camera", the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.

1948 – NASCAR is incorporated.

1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City.

1972 – United States President Richard Nixon visits the People's Republic of China to normalize Sino-American relations.

1975 – Watergate scandal: Former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are sentenced to prison.


1621 – Rebecca Nurse, English-American victim of the Salem witch trials (d. 1692)

1903 – Anaïs Nin, French-American author (d. 1977)

1927 – Erma Bombeck, American journalist and author (d. 1996)

1940 – John Lewis, American activist and politician

1943 – David Geffen, American businessman, co-founded DreamWorks and Geffen Records

1964 – Mark Kelly, American captain, pilot, and astronaut

1964 – Scott Kelly, American captain, pilot, and astronaut


1938 – George Ellery Hale, American astronomer and academic (b. 1868)

1965 – Malcolm X, American minister and activist (b. 1925)

1982 – Murray the K, American radio host (b. 1922)

2018 - Billy Graham, American evangelist (b. 1918)