On July 21

As modern-day humans with continuous access to anything anyone would ever want to know, we like to think we’re pretty smart. But since the dawn of recorded history, quite a few wacky things have gone down on this day that age in history. Ever heard the phrase, “the past is a foreign country?” It’s under-selling things a bit. On this day in history, July 20th, strange, wild, and wondrous things have occurred that you probably don’t know about yet. Let’s take a trip back through time and see just how crazy a place planet Earth has always been. 

Famous Historical Events

356 B.C.: The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is set ablaze by Herostratus. 

Temple of Artemis

230: St. Pontianus becomes Pope. 

1542: Pope Paul the Third starts the Sanctum Officium, an inquisition against Protestants. 

1798: Napoleon Bonaparte nearly destroys the Egyptian Army when he wins the Battle of Pyramids in Egypt on this day in history. 

Napoleon Bonaparte

1969: Neil Armstrong is the first person to walk on the moon, seven hours after Apollo 11 landed on the Sea of Tranquility. On this day in history is when Armstrong said the famous phrase, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong

1977: The war between Libya and Egypt begins on this day when Libya struck several major Egyptian cities. The war ended in a ceasefire only two days later on July 24. 

1980: The first woman is elected as a head of state in South America. Mary Eugenia Charles was chosen as the PM of Dominica. 

1983: The lowest temperature on Earth is recorded at -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit at Vostok Station in Antarctica. 

Vostok Station in Antarctica

Famous Birthdays

1899: Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois on this day in history. He is considered one of the most famous authors of the early 20th century when he published seven novels, six collections of short stories, and two non-fiction books. Hemingway’s novels are considered classics in American literature. In 1954, he won a Nobel Prize. He died of suicide in 1961. 

1946: Ken Starr

Starr’s claim to fame is as the lawyer who investigated the Clinton administration in the 1990s. On this day in 1946, Starr was born in Texas. The infamous Starr report was published in 1998, which detailed how Bill Clinton allegedly lied about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky during a sworn statement. Starr’s allegations led to the impeachment trial of the former president, and a subsequent five-year suspension of his law license. A year later, Clinton was acquitted of the charges. 

1948: Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens

Born in London, Stevens is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member and celebrated singer-songwriter, education philanthropist, and humanitarian. 

1951: Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Williams was born in Chicago on this day in history. He’s famous for his successful career in stand-up comedy and as an actor who has won numerous awards and acclaim. Williams is best known for his academy-award winning performance in Good Will Hunting. 

Famous Deathdays

1796: Robert Burns

Robert Burns

Robert Burns is one of Scotland’s most famous poets, who died on this day in history, 1796. Burns was an outspoken critic of orthodox religion, and he fathered 12 children before dying at the young age of 37. 

Why does it matter what happened back in history? History is inescapable and can show us how the events of the past can impact the present with lasting legacies.

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