On This Day … 31 August


  • 1314 – King Haakon V of Norway moves the capital from Bergen to Oslo.
  • 1422 – King Henry V of England dies of dysentery while in France. His son, Henry VI becomes King of England at the age of nine months.
  • 1776 – William Livingston, the first Governor of New Jersey, begins serving his first term.
  • 1795 – War of the First Coalition: The British capture Trincomalee (present-day Sri Lanka) from the Dutch in order to keep it out of French hands.
  • 1798 – Irish Rebellion: Irish rebels, with French assistance, establish the short-lived Republic of Connacht.
  • 1813 – At the final stage of the Peninsular War, British-Portuguese troops capture the town of Donostia (now San Sebastián), resulting in a rampage and eventual destruction of the town. Elsewhere, Spanish troops repel a French attack in the Battle of San Marcial.
  • 1864 – During the American Civil War, Union forces led by General William T. Sherman launch an assault on Atlanta.
  • 1876 – Ottoman Sultan Murad V is deposed and succeeded by his brother Abdul Hamid II.
  • 1895 – German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin patents his navigable balloon.
  • 1897 – Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.
  • 1907 – Russia and the United Kingdom sign the Anglo-Russian Convention, by which the UK recognises Russian preeminence in northern Persia, while Russia recognises British preeminence in southeastern Persia and Afghanistan.
    • Both powers pledge not to interfere in Tibet.
  • 1918 – World War I: Start of the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin, a successful assault by the Australian Corps during the Hundred Days Offensive.
  • 1920 – Polish–Soviet War: A decisive Polish victory in the Battle of Komarów.
  • 1935 – In an attempt to stay out of the growing tensions concerning Germany and Japan, the United States passes the first of its Neutrality Acts.
  • 1939 – Nazi Germany mounts a false flag attack on the Gleiwitz radio station, creating an excuse to attack Poland the following day, thus starting World War II in Europe.
  • 1941 – World War II: Serbian paramilitary forces defeat Germans in the Battle of Loznica.
  • 1943 – USS Harmon, the first US Navy ship to be named after a black person, is commissioned.
  • 1949 – The retreat of the Democratic Army of Greece in Albania after its defeat on Gramos mountain marks the end of the Greek Civil War.
  • 1957 – The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gains its independence from the United Kingdom.
  • 1959 – A parcel bomb sent by Ngô Đình Nhu, younger brother and chief adviser of South Vietnamese President Ngô Đình Diệm, fails to kill King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.
  • 1962 – Trinidad and Tobago becomes independent.
  • 1963 – Crown Colony of North Borneo (now Sabah) achieves self governance.
  • 1991 – Kyrgyzstan declares its independence from the Soviet Union.
  • 1993 – Russia completes removing its troops from Lithuania.
  • 1994 – Russia completes removing its troops from Estonia.
  • 1996 – Saddam Hussein’s troops seized Irbil after the Kurdish Masoud Barzani appealed for help to defeat his Kurdish rival PUK.

People (Births)

  • 1721 – George Hervey, 2nd Earl of Bristol, English soldier and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (d. 1775).
  • 1802 – Husein Gradaščević, Ottoman general (d. 1834).
  • 1894 – Albert Facey, Australian soldier and author (d. 1982).
  • 1896 – Brian Edmund Baker, English Air Marshal (d. 1979).
  • 1897 – Fredric March, American lieutenant, actor, and singer (d. 1975).
  • 1907 – Ramon Magsaysay, Filipino captain, engineer, and politician, 7th President of the Philippines (d. 1957).
  • 1943 – Leonid Ivashov, Russian general.

People (Deaths)

  • 1372 – Ralph de Stafford, 1st Earl of Stafford, English soldier (b. 1301).
  • 1811 – Louis Antoine de Bougainville, French admiral and explorer (b. 1729).
  • 1814 – Arthur Phillip, English admiral and politician, 1st Governor of New South Wales (b. 1738).
  • 1817 – Sir John Duckworth, 1st Baronet, English admiral and politician, 39th Commodore Governor of Newfoundland (b. 1747).
  • 1818 – Robert Calder, Scottish admiral (b. 1745).
  • 1924 – Todor Aleksandrov, Bulgarian soldier (b. 1881).
  • 1927 – Andranik, Armenian general (b. 1865).
  • 1974 – William Pershing Benedict, American soldier and pilot (b. 1918).
  • 2007 – Jean Jacques Paradis, Canadian general (b. 1928).
  • 2012 – Sergey Sokolov, Russian commander and politician, 6th Minister of Defence for The Soviet Union (b. 1911).

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