On Oct. 21, 1797, the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides,” was christened in Boston’s harbor.
In 1805, a British fleet commanded by Adm. Horatio Nelson defeated a French-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar; Nelson, however, was killed.
In 1879, Thomas Edison perfected a workable electric light at his laboratory in Menlo Park, N.J.
In 1917, legendary jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina.
In 1944, during World War II, U.S. troops captured the German city of Aachen (AH’-kuhn).
In 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon clashed in their fourth and final presidential debate in New York.
In 1966, 144 people, 116 of them children, were killed when a coal waste landslide engulfed a school and some 20 houses in Aberfan, Wales.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon nominated Lewis F. Powell and William H. Rehnquist to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Both nominees were confirmed.)
In 1976, Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize for literature, the first American honored since John Steinbeck in 1962.
In 1985, former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White — who’d served five years in prison for killing Mayor George Moscone (mahs-KOH’-nee) and Supervisor Harvey Milk, a gay-rights advocate — was found dead in a garage, a suicide.
In 2001, Washington, D.C., postal worker Thomas L. Morris Jr. died of inhalation anthrax as officials began testing thousands of postal employees.
In 2014, North Korea abruptly freed Jeffrey Fowle, an American, nearly six months after he was arrested for leaving a Bible in a nightclub. Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, 93, died in Washington.
In 2015, Vice President Joe Biden announced he would not be a candidate in the 2016 White House campaign, solidifying Hillary Rodham Clinton’s status as the Democratic front-runner.