Today in History
July 31

904 Arabs capture Thessalonica.
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.
1760 Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, drives the French army back to the Rhine River.
1790 The U.S. Patent Office opens.
1882 Belle and Sam Starr are charged with horse stealing in the Indian territory.
1875 Former president Andrew Johnson dies at the age of 66.
1891 Great Britain declares territories in Southern Africa up to the Congo to be within its sphere of influence.
1904 The Trans-Siberian railroad connecting the Ural mountains with Russia’s Pacific coast, is completed.
1917 The third Battle of Ypres commences as the British attack the German lines.
1932 Adolf Hitler‘s Nationalist Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) doubles its strength in legislative elections.
1944 The Soviet army takes Kovno, the capital of Lithuania.
1962 Federation of Malaysia formally proposed.
1971 Apollo 15 astronauts take a drive on the moon in their land rover.
1987 An F4 tornado in Edmonton, Alberta kills 27 and causes $330 million in damages; the day is remembered as “Black Friday.”
1988 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.
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 (1969-2007), ends as British troops withdraw from Northern Ireland.
Born on July 31
1803 John Ericsson, naval engineer and inventor, developed the screw propeller.
1816 George Henry Thomas, Union general during the American Civil War.
1837 William Clarke Quantrill, Confederate raider during the American Civil War.
1867 S.S. Kresge, American businessman.
1901 Jean Dubuffet, French sculptor and painter.
1912 Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist.
1919 Primo Levi, Italian writer and scientist (Survival in Auschwitz).
1921 Whitney Young, Jr., civil rights leader and executive director of the National Urban League.
1928 Horace Silver, jazz pianist, composer and bandleader.
1951 Evonne Goolagong, Australian tennis player.
1965 J.K. Rowling, author (Harry Potter series).


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