August 21, 1741: George Frideric Handel shuts himself up in his home to begin writing "Messiah." He finished the composition 23 days later. "Whether I was in the body or out of the body when I wrote it, I know not," he later said.
August 21, 1874: Henry Ward Beecher, a popular Congregational clergyman from Connecticut, is accused of adultery. Sued for $100,000 by the alleged adulteress's husband, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe (and son of evangelical leader Lyman Beecher) would eventually be exonerated by his congregation and the jury (which voted 9-3 in favor of Beecher).
October 28, 312: According to tradition, on this date the 32-year-old Roman emperor Constantine defeated Maxentius at Milvian Bridge. Before the battle, Constantine had seen the symbol of Jesus, chi-rho, in a vision, accompanied with the words "By this sign conquer." He is considered Rome's first Christian emperor (see issue 57: Converting the Empire).
October 28, 1646: At Nonantum, Massachusetts, missionary John Eliot preaches the first worship service for Native Americans in their native language. ...