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This Day in History: January 21


1789 – The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth, is printed in Boston.

1861 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis resigns from the United States Senate.

1908 – New York City passes the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public, only to have the measure vetoed by the mayor.

1915 – Kiwanis International is founded in Detroit.

1950 – American lawyer and government official Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury.

1954 – The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, is launched in Groton, Connecticut by Mamie Eisenhower, the First Lady of the United States.

1960 – Little Joe 1B, a Mercury spacecraft, lifts off from Wallops Island, Virginia with Miss Sam, a female rhesus monkey on board.

1976 – Commercial service of Concorde begins with the London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio routes.

1977 – United States President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all American Vietnam War draft evaders, some of whom had emigrated to Canada.

1997 – The U.S. House of Representatives votes 395–28 to reprimand Newt Gingrich for ethics violations, making him the first Speaker of the House to be so disciplined.

1999 – War on Drugs: In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the United States Coast Guard intercepts a ship with over 4,300 kilograms (9,500 lb) of cocaine on board.

2004 – NASA's MER-A (the Mars Rover Spirit) ceases communication with mission control. The problem lies in the management of its flash memory and is fixed remotely from Earth on February 6.


1738 – Ethan Allen, American general (d. 1789)

1804 – Eliza R. Snow, American poet and hymn-writer (d. 1887)

1813 – John C. Frémont, American general, explorer, and politician (d. 1890)

1824 – Stonewall Jackson, American general (d. 1863)

1905 – Karl Wallenda, German-American acrobat and tightrope walker, founded The Flying Wallendas (d. 1978)

1938 – Wolfman Jack, American radio host and actor (d. 1995)

1940 – Jack Nicklaus, American golfer and sportscaster

1965 – Jam Master Jay, American DJ, rapper, and producer (Run–D.M.C.) (d. 2002)


1901 – Elisha Gray, American engineer, co-founded Western Electric (b. 1835)

1959 – Cecil B. DeMille, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1881)

1998 – Jack Lord, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1920)

2008 – Marie Smith Jones, American speaker of the Eyak language (b. 1918)