This Day In History, April 21st

What happened on this day in history: Rome is founded in 753 B.C.E., the "Red Baron" is killed during World War I, and more.

753 B.C.E.: Rome Is Founded

According to ancient Roman mythology, the city that would become the heart of the Roman Empire was established by twins Romulus and Remus, who had been abandoned at birth and raised by a she-wolf. Romulus allegedly killed Remus and named the city after himself, but this myth — and the precise date of Rome’s founding — didn’t emerge until hundreds of years later.

1836: General Santa Anna Is Captured

Today In History April 21

Bettmann/Getty ImagesA depiction of General Santa Anna, the Mexican dictator.

General Santa Anna is captured in present-day La Porte and Pasadena, Texas, following his defeat at the Battle of San Jacinto. A soldier who rose through the ranks during Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain, Santa Anna became Mexico’s president and then dictator. He set out to crush the Texas independence movement in the 1830s but despite initial victories at the Alamo and the Battle of Goliad, was unable to secure victory.

1898: USS Maine Blows Up, Sparking The Spanish-American War

The USS Maine blows up in the Havana Harbor in Cuba, prompting the United States to declare war on Spain.

1910: Mark Twain Dies

Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, dies in Redding, Connecticut, at the age of 74. A writer, humorist, and social critic, Twain penned iconic American works like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). He was also known for his sharp wit and quotes like “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

1918: The “Red Baron” Is Killed

Baron Manfred von Richthofen is killed in action in France during World War I. A German flying ace known as the “Red Baron,” Richthofen became famous for both his red airplane and his kill count (he shot down 80 Allied planes during his career, including 21 in the month of April 1917). On the day he died, Richthofen flew deep into French territory and was either shot down by Canadian Air Force pilot Captain Arthur Roy Brown or an Australian gunner.

1934: “Proof” Of The Loch Ness Monster Is Published

Loch Ness Monster Photo

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThe 1934 photo that alleged to show the Loch Ness Monster.

The Daily Mail publishes a photo claiming to depict the Loch Ness Monster. The photo was sold to the paper by a London doctor named R. Kenneth Wilson but evidence of a hoax later emerged. In the 1990s, it came out that two stepbrothers named Ian Wetherell and Christian Spurling may have perpetrated the hoax alongside Wilson because Wetherell’s father had been fired by the Daily Mail while investigating the Loch Ness Monster in 1933.

Listen above to the History Uncovered podcast, episode 71: History Happy Hour, May 2023, also available on Apple and Spotify.

2016: Prince Dies

Prince Rogers Nelson, later known as Prince and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, dies at the age of 57 in Chanhassen, Minnesota, from an accidental drug overdose. A singer and songwriter, Prince rose to fame with albums like 1999 (1982), Purple Rain (1984), and Sign O’ The Times (1987). Prince’s death shocked his fans, and a subsequent investigation found that he’d accidentally died from a “self-administered” overdose of fentanyl.

2016: Michelle McNamara Dies

Michelle McNamara, true crime sleuth responsible for calling greater attention to the Golden State Killer case, dies of a drug overdose in Los Angeles.