Today in History: August 31

Today in History
August 31

1303   The War of the Vespers in Sicily ends with an agreement between Charles of Valois, who invaded the country, and Frederick, the ruler of Sicily.
1756   The British at Fort William Henry, New York, surrender to Louis Montcalm of France.
1802   Captain Meriwether Lewis leaves Pittsburgh to meet up with Captain William Clark and begin their trek to the Pacific Ocean.
1864   At the Democratic convention in Chicago, General George B. McClellan is nominated for president.
1919   The Communist Labor Party is founded in Chicago, with the motto, “Workers of the world unite!”
1940   Joseph Avenol steps down as Secretary-General of the League of Nations.
1942   The British army under General Bernard Law Montgomery defeats Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps in the Battle of Alam el Halfa in Egypt.
1944   The British Eighth Army penetrates the German Gothic Line in Italy.
1949   Six of the 16 surviving Union veterans of the Civil War attend the last-ever encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1951   The 1st Marine Division begins its attack on Bloody Ridge in Korea. The four-day battle results in 2,700 Marine casualties.
1965   The US Congress creates the Department of Housing & Urban Development.
1980   The Polish government is forced to sign the Gdansk Agreement allowing the creation of the trade union Solidarity.
1990   East and West Germany sign the Treaty of Unification (Einigungsvertrag) to join their legal and political systems.
1994   The last Russian troops leave Estonia and Latvia.
1994   The Irish Republican Army (IRA) announces a “complete cessation of military operations,” opening the way to a political settlement in Ireland for the first time in a quarter of a century.
Born on August 31
1811   Théophile Gautier, French poet, novelist and author of Art for Art’s Sake.
1870   Maria Montessori, educator and founder of the Montessori schools.
1885   Dubose Heyward, novelist, poet and dramatist best know for Porgy which was the basis for the opera Porgy and Bess.
1899   Lynn Riggs, writer, her book Green Grow the Lilacs was adapted by Rodgers and Hammerstein to become Oklahoma.
1903   Arthur Godfrey, radio and television personality.
1905   Sanford Meisner, influential acting teacher.
1907   William Shawn, longtime editor of The New Yorker.
1908   William Saroyan, author and playwright (The Human Comedy).
1918   Alan Jay Lerner, playwright and lyricist (Brigadoon, Camelot).
1918   Daniel Schorr, journalist.
1935   Eldridge Cleaver, political activist and author of Soul on Fire.
1936   Marva Collins, innovative educator who started Chicago’s one-room school, Westside Preparatory.
1945   Van Morrison, Irish singer, songwriter.
1945   Itzhak Perlman, violinist.
1948   Lowell Ganz, screenwriter, (A League of Their Own) director, producer, actor.
1949   Richard Gere, actor (Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman).
1970   Deborah Ann “Debbie” Gibson, singer, songwriter, record producer, actress; youngest artist ever to write, produce and perform a Billboard #1 single (“Foolish Beat”).
1970   Queen Rania of Jordan (nee Rania al Yassin), wife of King Abdullah II.

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