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This Day in History: September 21


1776 – Part of New York City is burned shortly after being occupied by British forces.

1780 – American Revolutionary War: Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.

1897 – The "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" editorial is published in the New York Sun.

1937 – J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is published.

1938 – The Great Hurricane of 1938 makes landfall on Long Island in New York. The death toll is estimated at 500-700 people.

1942 – The Holocaust: On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Nazis send over 1,000 Jews of Pidhaitsi (west Ukraine) to Bełżec extermination camp.

1942 – The Boeing B-29 Superfortress makes its maiden flight.

1961 – Maiden flight of the Boeing CH-47 Chinook transportation helicopter.

1964 – The North American XB-70 Valkyrie, the world's first Mach 3 bomber, makes its maiden flight from Palmdale, California.

1981 – Sandra Day O'Connor is unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice.

1996 – The Defense of Marriage Act passes the United States Congress (a vote of 342-67 in the House of Representatives and a vote of 85-14 in the Senate). The law prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriage, while allowing states to adopt any marital definition of their choosing.

2001 – Deep Space 1 flies within 2,200 km of Comet Borrelly.

2001 – America: A Tribute to Heroes is broadcast by over 35 network and cable channels, raising over $200 million for the victims of the September 11 attacks.

2003 – Galileo mission is terminated by sending the probe into Jupiter's atmosphere, where it is crushed by the pressure at the lower altitudes.

2005 – Hurricane Rita becomes the third most intense hurricane (dropped to 4th on October 19, 2005).


1912 – Chuck Jones, American animator, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2002)

1944 – Hamilton Jordan, American politician, 8th White House Chief of Staff (d. 2008)

1945 – Jerry Bruckheimer, American film and television producer

1947 – Stephen King, American author and screenwriter

1950 – Bill Murray, American actor, producer, and screenwriter

1968 – Ricki Lake, American actress, producer, and talk show host


1798 – George Read, American lawyer and politician, 3rd Governor of Delaware (b. 1733)

1904 – Chief Joseph, American tribal leader (b. 1840)

1995 – Rudy Perpich, American dentist and politician, 34th Governor of Minnesota (b. 1928)