On This Day … 31 March

Events

  • 1146 – Bernard of Clairvaux preaches his famous sermon in a field at Vézelay, urging the necessity of a Second Crusade.
    • Louis VII is present, and joins the Crusade.
  • 1521 – Ferdinand Magellan and fifty of his men came ashore to present-day Limasawa to participate in the first Catholic mass in the Philippines.
  • 1774 – American Revolutionary War: The Kingdom of Great Britain orders the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.
  • 1854 – Commodore Matthew Perry signs the Convention of Kanagawa with the Tokugawa Shogunate, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade.
  • 1885 – The United Kingdom establishes the Bechuanaland Protectorate.
  • 1889 – The Eiffel Tower is officially opened.
  • 1899 – Malolos, capital of the First Philippine Republic, is captured by American forces.
  • 1906 – The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later the National Collegiate Athletic Association) is established to set rules for college sports in the United States.
  • 1909 – Serbia formally withdraws its opposition to Austro-Hungarian actions in the Bosnian Crisis.
  • 1917 – According to the terms of the Treaty of the Danish West Indies, the islands become American possessions.
  • 1918 – Massacre of ethnic Azerbaijanis is committed by allied armed groups of Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Bolsheviks.
    • Nearly 12,000 Azerbaijani Muslims are killed.
  • 1918 – Daylight saving time goes into effect in the US for the first time.
  • 1921 – The Royal Australian Air Force is formed.
  • 1933 – The Civilian Conservation Corps is established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment in the United States.
  • 1942 – World War II: Japanese forces invade Christmas Island, then a British possession.
  • 1945 – World War II: A defecting German pilot delivers a Messerschmitt Me 262A-1, the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft, to the Americans, the first to fall into Allied hands.
  • 1949 – The Dominion of Newfoundland joins the Canadian Confederation and becomes the 10th Province of Canada.
  • 1959 – The 14th Dalai Lama, crosses the border into India and is granted political asylum.
  • 1964 – Brazilian General Olímpio Mourão Filho orders his troops to move towards Rio de Janeiro, beginning the coup d’état.
  • 1968 – American President Lyndon B. Johnson speaks to the nation of “Steps to Limit the War in Vietnam” in a television address.
    • At the conclusion of his speech, he announces: “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”
  • 1991 – Georgian independence referendum: Nearly 99% of the voters support the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.
  • 1992 – The USS Missouri, the last active US Navy battleship, is decommissioned in Long Beach, California.
  • 1992 – The Treaty of Federation is signed in Moscow.
  • 2004 – Iraq War in Anbar Province: In Fallujah, Iraq, four American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA, are killed after being ambushed.
  • 2018 – Start of the 2018 Armenian revolution.
  • Freedom Day (Malta).
  • Transfer Day (US Virgin Islands).

People (Births)

  • 1536 – Ashikaga Yoshiteru, Japanese shōgun (d. 1565).
  • 1813 – Félix María Zuloaga, Mexican general and unconstitutional interim president (1858 and 1860-1862) (d. 1898).
  • 1874 – Benjamín G. Hill, Mexican revolutionary general, governor of Sonora (d. 1920).
  • 1912 – William Lederer, American soldier and author (d. 2009).
  • 1915 – Shoichi Yokoi, Japanese sergeant (d. 1997).
  • 1926 – Rocco Petrone, American colonel and engineer (d. 2006).
  • 1927 – Vladimir Ilyushin, Russian pilot (d. 2010).
  • 1938 – Antje Gleichfeld, German runner.
  • 1941 – Faith Leech, Australian swimmer (d. 2013).
  • 1948 – Al Gore, American soldier and politician, 45th Vice President of the United States and Nobel Prize laureate.
  • 1948 – Gustaaf Van Cauter, Belgian cyclist.
  • 1961 – Ron Brown, American sprinter and football player.
  • 1974 – Jani Sievinen, Finnish swimmer.
  • 1976 – Graeme Smith, Scottish swimmer.
  • 1981 – Maarten van der Weijden, Dutch swimmer.
  • 1984 – Kaie Kand, Estonian heptathlete.
  • 1989 – Liu Zige, Chinese swimmer.
  • 1994 – Mads Würtz Schmidt, Danish road cyclist.

People (Deaths)

  • 1723 – Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, English soldier and politician, 14th Colonial Governor of New York (b. 1661).
  • 1915 – Wyndham Halswelle, English-Scottish runner and captain (b. 1882).
  • 1939 – Ioannis Tsangaridis, Greek general (b. 1887).
  • 1944 – Mineichi Koga, Japanese admiral (b. 1885).
  • 1970 – Semyon Timoshenko, Soviet Commander during the Winter War and the Eastern Front of World War II (b. 1894).
  • 1978 – Charles Herbert Best, American-Canadian physiologist and biochemist, co-discovered Insulin (b. 1899).
  • 1980 – Jesse Owens, American sprinter and long jumper (b. 1913), see 1936 Summer Olympics.
  • 2004 – Scott Helvenston, American soldier (b. 1965).
  • 2011 – Mary Greyeyes, the first First Nations woman to join the Canadian Armed Forces (b. 1920).
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