March 21 is the 80th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (81st in leap years). There are 285 days remaining.
- 1556 - In Oxford, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer is burned at the stake for treason.
- 1788 - A fire destroys 856 buildings in New Orleans leaving most of the town in ruins.
- 1800 - Pius VII becomes Pope
- 1804 - Code Napoleon adopted as French civil law
- 1918 - World War I: Second Battle of the Somme[?] begins
- 1928 - Charles Lindbergh is presented the Congressional Medal of Honor for his first trans-Atlantic flight.
- 1935 - Persia is renamed Iran
- 1945 - World War II: British troops liberate Mandalay[?], Burma
- 1952 - Alan Freed presents the Moondog Coronation Ball[?], the first rock and roll concert, in Cleveland, Ohio
- 1960 - Apartheid: Massacre in Sharpeville[?], South Africa: Afrikaner police open fire on a group of unarmed black South African demonstrators, killing 69 and wounding 180
- 1963 - Alcatraz, a federal penitentiary on an island in San Francisco Bay, closes.
- 1965 - Ranger program: NASA launches Ranger 9[?] which is the last in a series of unmanned lunar space probes.
- 1980 - President Jimmy Carter announces a United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow protesting the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.
- 1980 - On the season finale of the soap opera Dallas[?], the infamous character J.R. Ewing[?] is shot by an unseen assailant leading to the catchphrase "Who Shot JR?"
- 1989 - Sports Illustrated reports allegations that tie Pete Rose to baseball gambling.
- 1990 - After 75 years of South African rule Namibia becomes independent.
- 1999 - Bertrand Piccard[?] and Brian Jones become the first to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon.
- 2002 - In Pakistan, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh[?] along with three other suspects are charged with murder for their part in the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
- 1685 - Johann Sebastian Bach, composer (+ 1750)
- 1763 - Jean Paul[?], poet and publicist (+ 1825)
- 1768 - Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, French mathematician (+ 1830)
- 1806 - Benito Juarez, Mexican statesman and folk hero (+ 1872)
- 1839 - Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky, Russian composer (+ 1881)
- 1869 - Florenz Ziegfeld[?], theatrical producer (+ 1932)
- 1882 - Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson[?], actor (+ 1971)
- 1901 - Karl Arnold[?], politician (+ 1958)
- 1902 - Son House, blues musician (+ 1988)
- 1922 - Russ Meyer, pornographic film director, producer
- 1927 - Hans-Dietrich Genscher, politician
- 1958 - Gary Oldman, actor
- 1960 - Ayrton Senna, automobile racer (+ 1994)
- 1962 - Rosie O'Donnell, comedian, actress, talk show host, publisher
- 1962 - Matthew Broderick, actor
Holidays and observances
March 20 - March 22 - February 21 - April 21 -- listing of all days
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
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