This Day in History - March 31

March 31

1146 – Bernard of Clairvaux gives a famous speech in a field at Vezelay, urging others to join a Second Crusade

1282 – The massacre of the French in Sicily, The Sicilian Vespers, comes to an end

1492 – The royal edict is issued formally expelling Jews from Spain unless they converted to Christianity

1547 – In France, King Francis dies and is succeeded by his son Henry II

1596 – Philosopher and scientist Rene Descartes is born

1621 – Poet and politician Andrew Marvell is born

1621 – Philip III of Spain dies

1657 – English Parliament makes the Humble Petition to Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell offering him the crown to which he will decline

1685 – Composer and organist Johann Sebastian Bach is born

1693 – Englishman who invented the chronometer, John Harrison, is born

1732 – Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn is born

1776 – Abigail Adams writes to her husband John that women are “determined to foment a rebellion” if the new Declaration of Independence fails to guarantee their rights

1779 – Russia and Turkey sign a treaty by which they promise to take no military action in Crimea

1790 – Maximilien Robespierre is elected president of the Jacobin Club in Paris

1809 – Writer Edward Fitzgerald is born

1809 – Russian writer Nikolai V. Gogol is born

1811 – Chemist and inventor of the Bunsen burner, Robert Wilhelm Bunsen is born

1836 – The first monthly installment of Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers is published in London

1850 – 7th Vice President of the US, John C. Calhoun dies

1854 – Inventor of the two-stroke motorcycle engine, Sir Dugald Clerk, is born

1854 – The Treaty of Kanagawa is signed between the US and Japan, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade and allowing for the building of a US consulate in Japan

1862 – Rebel and Union forces skirmish at Island 10 on the Mississippi River

1865 – The final offensive of the Army of the Potomac takes place as Union General Philip Sheridan takes on General Robert Lee’s Army of North Virginia near Dinwiddie Court House

1878 – First black boxer to become a world heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, is born

1880 – The first electric street lights ever installed by a municipality are flipped on in Wabash, Indiana

1889 – The Eiffel Tower in Paris officially opens on the Left Bank

1895 – Western novelist Vardis Fisher is born

1905 – Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany arrives in Tangiers to declare his support for the sultan of Morocco, despite having no substantive interest in Morocco, angering Britain and France in what will become known as the First Moroccan Crisis

1914 – Nobel Prize-winning writer Octavio Paz is born

1915 – Comedian and radio performer Henry Morgan is born

1916 – General John Pershing and his army rout Pancho Villa’s army in Mexico

1917 – The US purchases the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million

1918 – Daylight Savings Time goes into effect throughout the US for the first time

1920 – British parliament accepts Irish Home Rule Law

1921 – Great Britain declares a state of emergency because of the thousands of coal miners on strike

1926 – English novelist John Fowles is born

1927 – American activist Cesar Chavez is born

1931 – Namesake of Studebaker, Knute Rockne, dies

1933 – To relieve rampant unemployment, Congress authorizes the Civilian Conservation Corps

1936 – Poet and novelist Marge Piercy is born

1939 – Britain and France agree to support Poland if German threatens to invade

1940 – La Guardia Airport in New York officially opens

1940 – The German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis sets off to sink Allied merchant ships

1941 – Germany begins a counteroffensive in North Africa

1943 – The musical Oklahoma! premieres on Broadway

1945 – The US and Britain bar a Soviet-supported provisional regime in Warsaw from entering the UN meeting in San Francisco

1948 – The Soviet Union begins controlling the Western trains headed toward Berlin

1948 – Vice President to William J. Clinton, Al Gore is born

1949 – Winston Churchill declares that the A-bomb was the only thing that kept the Soviet Union from taking over Europe

1949 – Newfoundland became Canada’s tenth province

1954 – The siege of Dien Bien Phu, the last French outpost in Vietnam, begins

1960 – The South African government declares a state of emergency after demonstrations lead to the deaths of more than 50 Africans

1964 – Following a coup, a military dictatorship takes over in Brazil

1965 – President Johnson declares “I know of no far-reaching strategy that is being suggested or promulgated” in regards to contemplated action in Vietnam

1965 – The US orders its first combat troops to Vietnam

1966 – An estimated 200,000 anti-war demonstrators march in New York City

1967 – President Lyndon Johnson sign the Consular Treaty, the first bilateral pact with the Soviet Union since the Bolshevik Revolution

1968 – President Johnson announces a partial bombing halt over North Vietnam and possible peace talks

1968 – President Johnson announces that he will not seek re-election

1970 – US forces in Vietnam shot down a MIG-21

1972 – Indian actress Meena Kumari dies

1973 – The Mississippi River reaches its peak level in St. Louis during a flood that claimed the lives of 33 people and cost more than a $1 billion in damages

1975 – The University of South California Bruins basketball team wins its 10th NCAA championship title and the next day, coach John Wooden, announces his retirement

1980 – President Jimmy Carter deregulates the banking industry

1980 – Sprinter Jesse Owens dies

1985 – The first edition of WrestleMania is held in New York

1991 – Albania offers a multi-party election for the first time in 50 years

1991 – The military alliance between the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites known as the Warsaw Pact, ends

1995 – The longest strike in MLB history, over salary cap, ends, and the players return to work

1999 – Law enforcement begins digging for evidence near the mobile home of David Parker Ray and Cynthia Lea Hendy. A few days prior, a young woman was found running naked with a padlocked metal collar around her neck, near the Elephant Butte State Park. She told police that she had been kidnapped, raped and tortured by the couple and that there had been others before her

2005 – Thirteen days after her feeding tube was removed, Terry Schiavo dies

2014 – Lawyer and businessman Charles Keating dies

Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.

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