Today in History

Today In History – July 31

Today In History – July 31

  • 30 BC – Battle of Alexandria: Mark Antony achieves a minor victory over Octavian’s forces, but most of his army subsequently deserts, leading to his suicide.
  • 781 – The oldest recorded eruption of Mount Fuji (Traditional Japanese date: 6th day of the 7th month of the 1st year of the Ten’o (天応) era).
  • 1009 – Pope Sergius IV becomes the 142nd pope, succeeding Pope John XVIII.
  • 1201 – Attempted usurpation by John Komnenos the Fat for the throne of Alexios III Angelos.
  • 1423 – Hundred Years’ War: Battle of Cravant: The French army is defeated by the English at Cravant on the banks of the river Yonne.
  • 1451 – Jacques Cœur is arrested by order of Charles VII of France.
  • 1492 – The Jews are expelled from Spain when the Alhambra Decree takes effect.
  • 1498 – On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.
  • 1588 – The Spanish Armada is spotted off the coast of England.
  • 1618 – Maurice, Prince of Orange disbands the waardgelders militia in Utrecht, a pivotal event in the Remonstrant/Counter-Remonstrant tensions.
  • 1655 – Russo-Polish War (1654–67): The Russian army enters the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Vilnius, which it holds for six years.
  • 1658 – Aurangzeb is proclaimed Mughal emperor of India.
  • 1703 – Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but is pelted with flowers.
  • 1712 – Action of 31 July 1712 (Great Northern War): Danish and Swedish ships clash in the Baltic Sea; the result is inconclusive.
  • 1715 – Seven days after a Spanish treasure fleet of 12 ships left Havana, Cuba for Spain, 11 of them sink in a storm off the coast of Florida. A few centuries later, treasure is salvaged from these wrecks.
  • 1741 – Charles Albert of Bavaria invades Upper Austria and Bohemia.
  • 1763 – Odawa Chief Pontiac’s forces defeat British troops at the Battle of Bloody Run during Pontiac’s War.
  • 1777 – The U.S. Second Continental Congress passes a resolution that the services of Gilbert du Motier “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.”
  • 1790 – The first U.S. patent is issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.
  • 1856 – Christchurch, New Zealand is chartered as a city.
  • 1865 – The first narrow-gauge mainline railway in the world opens at Grandchester, Queensland, Australia.
  • 1874 – Dr. Patrick Francis Healy became the first African-American inaugurated as president of a predominantly white university, Georgetown University.
  • 1904 – Russo-Japanese War: Battle of Hsimucheng: Units of the Imperial Japanese Army defeat units of the Imperial Russian Army in a strategic confrontation.
  • 1913 – The Balkan States sign an armistice in Bucharest.
  • 1917 – World War I: The Battle of Passchendaele begins near Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium.
  • 1919 – German national assembly adopts the Weimar Constitution, which comes into force on August 14.
  • 1932 – The NSDAP (Nazi Party) wins more than 38% of the vote in German elections.
  • 1938 – Bulgaria signs a non-aggression pact with Greece and other states of Balkan Antanti (Turkey, Romania, Yugoslavia).
  • 1938 – Archaeologists discover engraved gold and silver plates from King Darius the Great in Persepolis.
  • 1941 – The Holocaust: Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring, orders SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question.”
  • 1941 – World War II: The Battle of Smolensk concludes with Germany capturing about 300,000 Soviet Red Army prisoners.[1]
  • 1945 – Pierre Laval, the fugitive former leader of Vichy France, surrenders to Allied soldiers in Austria.
  • 1948 – At Idlewild Field in New York, New York International Airport (later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport) is dedicated.
  • 1948 – USS Nevada is sunk by an aerial torpedo after surviving hits from two atomic bombs (as part of post-war tests) and being used for target practice by three other ships.
  • 1964 – Ranger program: Ranger 7 sends back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.
  • 1970 – Black Tot Day: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy.
  • 1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 15 astronauts become the first to ride in a lunar rover.
  • 1972 – The Troubles: In Operation Motorman, the British Army re-takes the urban no-go areas of Northern Ireland. It is the biggest British military operation since the Suez Crisisof 1956, and the biggest in Ireland since the Irish War of Independence. Later that day, nine civilians are killed by car bombs in the village of Claudy.
  • 1973 – A Delta Air Lines jetliner, flight DL 723 crashes while landing in fog at Logan International Airport, Boston, Massachusetts killing 89.
  • 1975 – The Troubles: three members of a popular cabaret band and two gunmen are killed during a botched paramilitary attack in Northern Ireland.
  • 1987 – A tornado occurs in Edmonton, Canada.
  • 1988 – Thirty-two people are killed and 1,674 injured when a bridge at the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal collapses in Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia.
  • 1991 – The United States and Soviet Union both sign the START I Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the first to reduce (with verification) both countries’ stockpiles.
  • 1992 – The nation of Georgia joins the United Nations.
  • 1992 – Thai Airways International Flight 311 crashes into a mountain north of Kathmandu, Nepal killing all 113 people on board.
  • 1999 – Discovery Program: Lunar Prospector: NASA intentionally crashes the spacecraft into the Moon, thus ending its mission to detect frozen water on the Moon’s surface.
  • 2006 – Fidel Castro hands over power to his brother, Raúl.
  • 2007 – Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and the longest-running British Army operation ever, comes to an end.
  • 2012 – Michael Phelps breaks the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the most medals won at the Olympics.
  • 2014 – Gas explosions in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung kill at least 20 people and injure more than 270.

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