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What Happened on July 21?

  • The world land-speed record was broken by Frenchman Louis Rigolly. (1904) Rigolly was the first to drive a car faster than 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour). He drove his Gobron-Grille race car 103.561 miles per hour (166.665 kilometers per hour), finishing the 0.62-mile (1-kilometer) beach course in Ostend, Belgium, in just 21.6 seconds. He held the record for three months.

  • The world land speed record was again broken by Sir Malcolm Campbell. (1925) Campbell was the first to drive a car faster than 150 miles per hour (241 kilometers per hour). In this race, he averaged 150.33 miles per hour (242 kilometers per hour), driving a Sunbeam at Pendine Sands in Wales. Campbell broke nine land-speed records and was also the first person to drive a car more than 300 miles per hour (482.8 kilometers per hour).

  • The Earth's record lowest temperature was recorded. (1983) Scientists at the Vostok Station in Antarctica measured the temperature at -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-89.2 degrees Celsius).

  • The first American Old West train robbery takes place. (1873) Jesse James and his gang derailed the Rock Island Express train at Adair, Iowa, killing the engineer. They made off with $3,000 US Dollars.

  • The first true American Old West showdown took place. (1865) The shootout between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt happened in a street market in Springfield, Missouri. Hickok killed Tutt in a quick-draw duel. It is the first recorded showdown of its kind.

  • Captain Virgil Grissom became the second American to orbit the Earth. (1961) "Gus" Grissom piloted the Liberty Bell 7 in a sub-orbit of the Earth; he was also the first person to fly in space twice. He was killed in an pre-launch testing accident with the Apollo 1 mission, in which the entire crew died.

  • The final book in the Harry Potter series was published. (2007) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows marked the seventh and final installment in a series that repeatedly set fastest-selling book records. The books have been translated into almost 70 languages and have sold more than 400 million copies. The books also were made into a film series, which has set the record for the highest grossing movie series in history.

  • The First Battle of Bull Run happened. (1861) The first land battle of the American Civil war occurred at Manassas Junction, Virginia. Though the Confederate Army was considered the victor, the battle was far more bloody than either side expected. In all, 847 soldiers were killed, 2,706 were injured and 1,325 went missing.

  • Alexandria, Egypt, was destroyed by a tsunami. (365) An 8.0-magnitude earthquake caused the giant wave — more than 100 feet (30.5 meters) high — which killed more than 5,000 people inside the city and 45,000 in the outskirts. The wave beached ships more than 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) inland.

  • The world's first woman prime minister, and first female head of government, was elected. (1960) Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected the prime minister of Sri Lanka, a position she held three times: 1960 to 1965, 1970 to 1977 and 1994 to 2000.

  • Ernest Hemingway was born. (1899) Hemingway was one of the most influential American writers and journalists of the 20th century. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. His most notable works include A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, for which he won the Pulitzer.

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