This Day in History - July 31

July 31

904 – Arabs capture Thessalonica

1556 – Founder of the Jesuit order of Roman Catholic missionaries and educators, Ignatius of Loyola, dies

1703 – English novelist Daniel Defoe is made to stand in the pillory as punishment for offending the government and church with his satire The Shortest Way With Dissenters

1715 – A hurricane strikes the east coast of Florida, sinking ten Spanish treasure ships and killing almost 1,000.  The gold and silver onboard at the time would not be recovered for 250 years

1760 – Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, drives the French army back to the Rhine River

1777 – 19-year-old Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, accepts a commission as a major-general in the Continental Army without pay

1790 – The US Patent Office opens

1803 – Naval engineer and inventor, John Ericsson, is born

1816 – Union general during the Civil War, George Henry Thomas, is born

1837 – Confederate raider during the Civil War, William Clarke Quantrill, is born

1867 – American businessman, SS Kresge, is born

1882 – Belle and Sam Starr are charged with horse stealing in the Indian Territory

1884 – German politician, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, is born

1875 – Former President, Andrew Johnson, dies

1891 – Great Britain declares territories in Southern Africa up to the Congo to be within its sphere of influence

1901 – French sculptor and painter, Jean Dubuffet, is born

1904 – The Trans-Siberian railroad connecting the Ural Mountains with Russia’s Pacific coast, is completed

1912 – Nobel Prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman, is born

1916 – Future racing legend, Louise Smith, is born

1917 – The third Battle of Ypres commences as the British attack the German lines

1919 – Italian writer and scientist, Primo Levi, is born

1921 – Civil rights leader and executive director of the National Urban League, Whitney Young, Jr., is born

1923 – Founder of the music label, Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun, is born

1928 – Jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader, Horace Silver, is born

1932 – Adolf Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist German Workers’ Party doubles its strength in legislative elections

1937 – Charles Martine, an Apache scout who played an important role in the surrender of Geronimo, dies

1941 – Herman Goering, writing under instructions from Hitler, orders Reinhard Heydrich, SS general, to prepare for the Final Solution

1944 – The Soviet army takes Kovno, the capital of Lithuania

1944 – French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, dies

1945 – Pierre Laval, the puppet leader of Nazi-occupied Vichy France, surrenders to American authorities in Austria, who extradite him to France to stand trial

1951 – Australian tennis player, Evonne Goolagong, is born

1953 – Senate Majority Leader, Robert Taft, dies

1962 – Federation of Malaysia formally proposed

1962 – American martial artist, actor and producer Wesley Snipes is born

1964 – An unmanned US lunar probe, Ranger 7, takes the first close-up images of the moon 

1964 – American singer and songwriter Jim Reeves dies

1965 – Author JK Rowling is born

1971 – Apollo 15 astronauts take a drive on the moon in their land rover

1972 – Hanoi challenges the Nixon administration on the dike controversy, claiming that US bombers have struck dikes

1980 – Indian actor and singer Mohammed Rafi dies

1987 – An F4 tornado in Edmonton, Alberta kills 27 and causes $330 million in damages; the day is remembered as “Black Friday”

1988 – A bridge collapse at Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth, Malaysia, kills 32 and injures more than 1,600

1990 – Bosnia-Herzegovina declares independence from Yugoslavia

1990 – Star pitcher for the Texas Rangers wins the 300th game of his career, throwing 7 2/3 strong innings with eight strikeouts against the Milwaukee Brewers

1991 – The US and the USSR sign a long-range nuclear weapons reduction pact

1999 – NASA purposely crashes its Discovery Program’s Lunar Prospector into the moon, ending the agency’s mission to detect frozen water on Earth’s moon

2006 – Fidel Castro temporarily hands over power to his brother Raul Castro

2007 – The British Army’s longest continual operation, Operation Banner, ends as British troops withdraw from Northern Ireland

2012 – Actor, author, and screenwriter, Gore Vidal, 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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