April 21 is the 111th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (112th in leap years). There are 254 days remaining.
- 753 BC - Romulus founds Rome (traditional).
- 43 BC - Mark Antony is defeated in battle by consul Hirtius in the Battle of Mutina .
- 1792 - Tiradentes, a revolutionary who was leading a movement for Brazil's independence, is hanged.
- 1836 - Texas Revolution: Battle of San Jacinto – Republic of Texas forces under Sam Houston defeat troops under Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna. (Santa Anna and hundreds of his troops are taken prisoner along the San Jacinto River the next day.)
- 1863 - Bahá'u'lláh is proclaimed as the head of the Bahá'í Faith.
- 1863 - American Civil War: Streight's Raid begins – Troops led by Union Colonel Abel Streight move into northern Alabama and Georgia to cut the Western and Atlantic Railroad between Chattanooga, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia (the raid failed).
- 1894 - Norway formally adopts the Krag-Jřrgensen rifle as the main arm of its armed forces, a weapon that would remain in service for almost 50 years.
- 1898 - Spanish-American War: The U.S. Congress, on April 25, recognizes that a state of war exists between the United States and Spain as of this date.
- 1912 - The New York Giants and New York Yankees play an exhibition game to benefit survivors of the RMS Titanic.
- 1918 - World War I: German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as "The Red Baron," is shot down and killed by Allied fire over Vaux sur Somme in France.
- 1930 - A fire at a Columbus, Ohio, USA, penitentiary kills 320 people.
- 1944 - Women in France receive the right to vote
- 1945 - World War II: Soviet Union forces south of Berlin at Zossen attack the German High Command headquarters.
- 1951 - The National Olympic Committee of the USSR is formed
- 1952 - Administrative Professionals' Day (formerly Secretaries Day ), first celebrated
- 1953 - Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, two of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy's chief aides, recommend the removal of 30,000 books from the libraries of the United States Information Service posts in Europe, including works by Dashiell Hammett, W. E. B. Du Bois, Herman Melville, John Steinbeck, and Henry David Thoreau, calling them "pro-Communist".
- 1955 - Bob Hope's radio program airs its last segment.
- 1956 - Elvis Presley's song "Heartbreak Hotel" becomes the "King's" first song to reach the top of the Billboard magazine music charts.
- 1960 - Brasília, Brazil's capital, is officially inaugurated. At 9:30 am the Three Powers of the Republic are simultaneously transferred from the old capital, Rio de Janeiro.
- 1960 - Founding of the Orthodox Baha'i faith in Washington, DC.
- 1966 - Rastafarianism: Haile Selassie of Ethiopia visits Jamaica, an event now celebrated as Grounation Day .
- 1967 - A few days before the general election in Greece, Colonel George Papadopoulos leads a coup d'état, establishing a military regime that lasts for seven years.
- 1975 - Vietnam War: President of South Vietnam Nguyen Van Thieu flees Saigon, as Xuan Loc , the last South Vietnamese outpost blocking a direct North Vietnamese assault on Saigon, falls.
- 1985 - Tancredo de Almeida Neves, president-elect of Brazil, dies in Săo Paulo.
- 1985 - Ayrton Senna wins the first of 41 Formula One championship races at the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril.
- 1989 - Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989: In Beijing, around 100,000 students gather in Tiananmen Square to commemorate the late Chinese reform leader Hu Yaobang.
- 1992 - U.S. death penalty: After 13 years on death row, convicted murderer Robert Alton Harris is executed in California's gas chamber.
- 1994 - The first discoveries of extrasolar planets are announced by astronomer Alexander Wolszczan.
- 1652 - Michel Rolle, mathematician (d. 1719)
- 1729 - Tsarina Catherine II of Russia (d. 1796)
- 1775 - Alexander Anderson, American wood-engraver and illustrator (d. 1870)
- 1810 - John Putnam Chapin, mayor of Chicago (d. 1864)
- 1811 - Alson Sherman, mayor of Chicago (d. 1903)
- 1814 - Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, English philanthropist (d. 1906)
- 1816 - Charlotte Brontë, author (d. 1855)
- 1838 - John Muir, environmentalist (d. 1914)
- 1851 - Charles Barrois, geologist (d. 1939)
- 1864 - Max Weber, economist and sociologist (d. 1920)
- 1912 - Marcel Camus, film director (d. 1982)
- 1915 - Anthony Quinn, actor (d. 2001)
- 1922 - Alistair MacLean, author (d. 1987)
- 1923 - John Mortimer, barrister, writer
- 1924 - Clara Ward, gospel music singer (d. 1973)
- 1926 - Queen Elizabeth II
- 1929 - Martin Kruse , theologian
- 1930 - Silvana Mangano, actress (d. 1989)
- 1932 - Elaine May, comedienne
- 1935 - Charles Grodin, actor, journalist
- 1935 - Thomas Kean, governor of New Jersey
- 1947 - Iggy Pop, musician
- 1949 - Patti Lupone, singer, actress
- 1951 - Michael Hartley Freedman, mathematician
- 1958 - Andie MacDowell, actress
- 1959 - Robert Smith, musician
- 1963 - Ken Caminiti, baseball player (d. 2004)
- 1963 - Roy Dupuis, actor
- 1965 - Ed Belfour, NHL goalie
- 1970 - Nicole Sullivan, actress, comedienne and writer
- 1977 - Jamie Salé, figure skater
- 1980 - Vincent Lecavalier, NHL hockey player
- 1073 - Pope Alexander II
- 1109 - Anselm of Canterbury, Archbishop of Canterbury
- 1142 - Pierre Abélard, French writer (b. 1079)
- 1574 - Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (b. 1519)
- 1699 - Jean Racine, French dramatist (b. 1639)
- 1793 - John Michell, seismologist (b. 1724)
- 1815 - Joseph Winston, American patriot and Congressman from North Carolina (b. 1746)
- 1910 - Mark Twain, American author, humorist (b. 1835)
- 1918 - Manfred von Richthofen, pilot (b. 1892)
- 1930 - Robert Bridges, English poet (b. 1844)
- 1938 - Allama Iqbal, philosopher-poet (b. 1877)
- 1946 - John Maynard Keynes, economist (b. 1883)
- 1956 - Charles MacArthur, writer (b. 1895)
- 1973 - Arthur Fadden, thirteenth Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1894)
- 1977 - Gummo Marx, actor, comedian, Marx Brothers (b. 1892)
- 1978 - Sandy Denny, British vocalist (b. 1947)
- 1978 - Thomas Wyatt Turner, civil rights advocate and agricultural engineer (b. 1877)
- 1980 - Aleksandr Oparin, biochemist (b. 1894)
- 1985 - Rudi Gernreich, fashion designer
- 1999 - Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, actor, musician
- 2001 - Jack Haley Jr. , producer
- 2003 - Nina Simone, singer and pianist (b. 1933)
Holidays and observances
April 20 - April 22 - March 21 - May 21 -- listing of all days
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