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This Day in History: November 21


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

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

1832 – Wabash College is founded in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

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.

1902 – The Philadelphia Football Athletics defeated the Kanaweola Athletic Club of Elmira, New York, 39–0, in the first ever professional American football night game.

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.

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

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).

1945 – The United Auto Workers strike 92 General Motors plants in 50 cities to back up worker demands for a 30-percent raise.

1959 – American disc jockey Alan Freed, who had popularized the term "rock and roll" and music of that style, is fired from WABC-AM radio for refusing to deny allegations that he had participated in the payola scandal.

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

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 Satō 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 United States Air Force and Army team raids the Sơn Tây prisoner-of-war camp in an attempt to free American prisoners of war thought to be held there.

1979 – The United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, is attacked by a mob and set on fire, killing four.

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

1983 – US military campaign in Grenada ends.

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 allegedly implicating them in the sale of weapons to Iran and channeling the proceeds to help fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

1992 – A major tornado strikes the Houston, Texas area during the afternoon. Over the next two days the largest tornado outbreak ever to occur in the US during November spawns over 100 tornadoes before ending on the 23rd.

1995 – The Dayton 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.

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


1729 – Josiah Bartlett, American physician and politician, 6th Governor of New Hampshire (d. 1795)

1904 – Coleman Hawkins, American saxophonist and clarinet player (d. 1969)

1916 – Sid Luckman, American football player and soldier (d. 1998)

1920 – Stan Musial, American baseball player and manager (d. 2013)

1945 – Goldie Hawn, American actress, singer, and producer

1948 – George Zimmer, American businessman, founded Men's Wearhouse

1969 – Ken Griffey Jr., American baseball player and actor

1971 – Michael Strahan, American football player, actor, and talk show host


1899 – Garret Hobart, American lawyer and politician, 24th Vice President of the United States (b. 1844)

1924 – Florence Harding, American publisher, 36th First Lady of the United States (b. 1860)

1958 – Mel Ott, American baseball player, manager, and sportscaster (b. 1909)

1959 – Max Baer, American boxer, referee, and actor (b. 1909)

1986 – Dar Robinson, American actor and stuntman (b. 1947)

1988 – Carl Hubbell, American baseball player and scout (b. 1903)

2010 – Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, American painter and author, co-founded the DuSable Museum of African American History (b. 1917)

2013 – Vern Mikkelsen, American basketball player and coach (b. 1928)

2017 - David Cassidy, American singer and actor (b. 1950)