On This Day in History March 31

March 31 – Events:

  • 307 – After divorcing his wife Minervina, Constantine marries Fausta, the daughter of the retired Roman Emperor Maximian.
  • 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.
  • 1492 – Queen Isabella of Castille orders her 150,000 Jewish subjects to convert to Christianity or face expulsion.
  • 1717 – A sermon on “The Nature of the Kingdom of Christ” by Benjamin Hoadly, the Bishop of Bangor, provoked the Bangorian Controversy.
  • 1774 – American Revolutionary War: The Kingdom of Great Britain orders the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed in the Boston Port Act.
  • 1822 – The massacre of the population of the Greek island of Chios by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire following a rebellion attempt, depicted by the French artist Eugène Delacroix.
  • 1854 – Commodore Matthew Perry signs the Treaty of Kanagawa with the Japanese government, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade.
  • 1866 – The Spanish Navy bombs the harbour of Valparaíso, Chile.
  • 1877 – The family with samurai antecedents who responded to the Saigo army in Oita Nakatsu rebels.
  • 1885 – The United Kingdom establishes a protectorate over Bechuanaland.
  • 1889 – The Eiffel Tower is inaugurated.
  • 1906 – The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later National Collegiate Athletic Association) is established to set rules for amateur sports in the United States.
  • 1909 – Serbia accepts Austrian control over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • 1917 – The United States takes possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renames the territory the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • 1918 – Daylight saving time goes into effect in the United States for the first time.
  • 1930 – The Motion Pictures Production Code is instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in motion pictures for the next thirty eight years.
  • 1931 – An earthquake destroys Managua, Nicaragua, killing 2,000.
  • 1933 – The Civilian Conservation Corps is established with the mission to relieve rampant unemployment.
  • 1942 – In World War II, Japanese forces invade Christmas Island, then a British possession.
  • 1942 – Holocaust in Ivano-Frankivsk (then called Stanislawow), western Ukraine. German Gestapo organize the first deportation of 5.000 Jews from Stanislawow ghetto to Belzec death camp. It was one of the biggest transports to Belzec in the first phase of the camp.
  • 1944 – Japanese Navy Marshal Mineichi Koga dies in the performance of job in the Navy Second Incident.
  • 1946 – The first election is held in Greece after World War II.
  • 1949 – The Dominion of Newfoundland joins Confederation and becomes the 10th Province of Canada.
  • 1951 – The first commercial US made computer, UNIVAC I, was delivered to the United States Census Bureau.
  • 1957 – Elections to the Territorial Assembly of the French colony Upper Volta. After the elections PDU and MDV form a government.
  • 1959 – The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, crosses the border into India and is granted political asylum.
  • 1964 – The Dictatorship in Brazil, under the aegis of general Castello Branco, begins.
  • 1965 – Iberia Airlines Convair 440, crashed into the sea on approach to Tangier killing 47 of 51 occupants.
  • 1966 – The Soviet Union launches Luna 10 which later becomes the first space probe to enter orbit around the Moon.
  • 1968 – President Lyndon B. Johnson announces he will not run for re-election.
  • 1970 – Explorer 1 re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere (after 12 years in orbit).
  • 1970 – Eight terrorists from the Japanese Red Army hijacked Japan Airlines Flight 351 at Tokyo International Airport, wielding samurai swords and carrying a bomb.
  • 1979 – The last British soldier leaves the Maltese Islands. Malta declares its Freedom Day (Jum il-Helsien).
  • 1980 – The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad operate final train after ordered to be liquidated due to bankruptcy and debt owed to creditors.
  • 1986 – A Mexicana Boeing 727 en route to Puerto Vallarta erupts in flames and crashes in the mountains northwest of Mexico City, killing 166.
  • 1986 – Six metropolitan county councils are abolished in England.
  • 1990 – 200,000 protestors took to the streets of London to show their displeasure at the newly introduced Poll Tax.
  • 1991 – The Establishment of Islamic Constitutional Movement – Hadas in Kuwait.
  • 1991 – Georgian independence referendum: nearly 99 per cent of the voters support the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.
  • 1992 – USS Missouri (BB-63), the last active US Navy Battleship, is decommissioned in Long Beach, California.
  • 1994 – The journal Nature reports the finding in Ethiopia of the first complete Australopithecus afarensis
  • 1995 – In Corpus Christi, Texas, Latin superstar Selena Quintanilla Perez is shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her own fan club.
  • 1998 – Netscape releases the code base of its browser under an open-source license agreement; the project is given the code name Mozilla and would eventually be spun off into the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

March 31 – Birthdays:

  • 250 – Constantius Chlorus, Roman Emperor (d. 306)
  • 1360 – Philippa of Lancaster, queen of Portugal (d. 1415)
  • 1425 – Bianca Maria Visconti, Duchess of Milan (d. 1468)
  • 1499 – Pope Pius IV (d. 1565)
  • 1504 – Guru Angad Dev, second Sikh guru (d. 1552)
  • 1519 – King Henry II of France (d. 1559)
  • 1536 – Ashikaga Yoshiteru, Japanese shogun (d. 1565)
  • 1576 – Louise Juliana of Nassau, Regent of Bohemia (died 1644)
  • 1596 – René Descartes, French mathematician (d. 1650)
  • 1621 – Andrew Marvell, English poet (d. 1678)
  • 1651 – Karl II, Elector Palatine (d. 1685)
  • 1675 – Pope Benedict XIV (d. 1758)
  • 1718 – Marianne Victoria of Borbón, queen regent of Portugal (d. 1781)
  • 1723 – King Frederick V of Denmark (d. 1766)
  • 1730 – Étienne Bézout, French mathematician (d. 1783)
  • 1732 – Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer (d. 1809)
  • 1777 – Charles Cagniard de la Tour, French physicist (d. 1859)
  • 1778 – Coenraad Jacob Temminck, Dutch zoologist (d. 1858)
  • 1794 – Thomas McKean Thompson McKennan, American politician (d. 1852)
  • 1809 – Edward FitzGerald, English poet (d. 1883)
  • 1811 – Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, German chemist and inventor (d. 1899)
  • 1819 – Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1901)
  • 1847 – Yegor Ivanovich Zolotarev, Russian mathematician (d. 1878)
  • 1855 – Alfred E. Hunt, founder of Alcoa (d. 1899)
  • 1871 – Arthur Griffith, President of Ireland (d. 1922)
  • 1872 – Alexandra Kollontai, Russian ambassador to Norway (d.1952)
  • 1872 – Serge Diaghilev, Russian ballet impresario (Ballets Russes) (d. 1929)
  • 1876 – Borisav “Bora” Stankovic, Serbian writer (d. 1927)
  • 1878 – Jack Johnson, American boxer (d. 1946)
  • 1884 – Adriaan van Maanen, Dutch-American astronomer (d. 1946)
  • 1885 – Pascin, Bulgarian painter (d. 1930)
  • 1890 – William Lawrence Bragg, English physicist, Nobel laureate (d. 1971)
  • 1891 – Victor Varconi, Hungarian film actor (d. 1976)
  • 1893 – Clemens Krauss, Austrian conductor (d. 1954)
  • 1906 – Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Japanese physicist, Nobel laureate (d. 1979)
  • 1907 – Eddie Quillan, American actor (d. 1990)
  • 1908 – Red Norvo, American jazz vibraphonist (d. 1999)
  • 1911 – Elisabeth Grümmer, Alsatian soprano (d. 1986)
  • 1914 – Octavio Paz, Mexican diplomat and writer, Nobel laureate (d. 1998)
  • 1915 – Albert Hourani, English historian (d. 1993)
  • 1915 – Shoichi Yokoi, Japanese military man (d. 1997)
  • 1916 – Lucille Bliss, American voice actress
  • 1916 – John H. Wood, Jr., American federal judge (d. 1979)
  • 1919 – Frank Akins, American football player (d. 1993)
  • 1922 – Richard Kiley, American actor and singer (d. 1999)
  • 1924 – Leo Buscaglia, American author (d. 1998)
  • 1924 – Charles Guggenheim, American film director/producer (d. 2002)
  • 1925 – Jean Coutu, French Canadian actor (d. 1999)
  • 1926 – John Fowles, English author (d. 2005)
  • 1927 – César Chávez, American labor activist (d. 1993)
  • 1927 – William Daniels, American actor
  • 1928 – Lefty Frizzell, American singer and songwriter (d. 1975)
  • 1928 – Gordie Howe, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1929 – Liz Claiborne, Belgian-born American fashion designer (d. 2007)
  • 1929 – Bertram Fields, American lawyer
  • 1931 – Miller Barber, American golfer
  • 1932 – Nagisa Oshima, Japanese film director
  • 1933 – Nichita Stanescu, Romanian poet (d. 1983)
  • 1934 – Richard Chamberlain, American actor
  • 1934 – Shirley Jones, American singer and actress
  • 1934 – Carlo Rubbia, Italian physicist, Nobel laureate
  • 1934 – John D. Loudermilk, American singer and songwriter
  • 1935 – Herb Alpert, American trumpeter and band leader
  • 1935 – Judith Rossner, American author
  • 1936 – Bob Pulford, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1936 – Marge Piercy, American writer
  • 1936 – Dokumamushi Sandayu, Japanese actor
  • 1938 – Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi
  • 1938 – David Steel, Scottish politician
  • 1938 – Michiko Nomura, Japanese voice actor
  • 1938 – Bill Hicke, Canadian ice hockey player (d. 2005)
  • 1939 – Zviad Gamsakhurdia, first President of Georgia (d. 1993)
  • 1939 – Volker Schlöndorff, German film director
  • 1940 – Barney Frank, U.S. Representative from Massachusetts
  • 1940 – Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator from Vermont
  • 1942 – Michael Savage, American talk radio host and commentator
  • 1942 – Ulla Hoffmann, Swedish politician
  • 1943 – Christopher Walken, American actor
  • 1944 – Pascal Danel, French singer and songwriter
  • 1944 – Mick Ralphs, English guitarist (Mott the Hoople, Bad Company)
  • 1945 – Valerie Curtin, American actress, writer, and producer
  • 1945 – Gabe Kaplan, American actor and comedian
  • 1946 – Gonzalo Márquez, Venezuelan baseball player (d. 1984)
  • 1947 – Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, President of Colombia
  • 1948 – Al Gore, Vice President of the United States and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1948 – Rhea Perlman, American actress
  • 1950 – Ed Marinaro, American football player and actor
  • 1950 – András Adorján, Hungarian chess player
  • 1955 – Angus Young, Scottish-born Australian guitarist (AC/DC)
  • 1955 – Robert Vance, New Zealand cricketer
  • 1957 – Marc McClure, American actor
  • 1957 – Alan Duncan, British politician
  • 1959 – Ali McMordie, Irish bassist (Stiff Little Fingers)
  • 1963 – Paul Mercurio, Australian actor/dancer
  • 1964 – Paul Wong Koon-Chung, Hong Kong musician (Beyond)
  • 1965 – Tom Barrasso, American ice hockey player
  • 1965 – Steven T. Seagle, American comic-book writer
  • 1966 – Roger Black, English athlete
  • 1968 – Naoya Ogawa, Japanese professional wrestler
  • 1969 – Samantha Brown, American television host
  • 1969 – Steve Smith, American basketball player
  • 1969 – Nyamko Sabuni, Swedish politician
  • 1971 – Pavel Bure, Russian ice hockey player
  • 1971 – Ewan McGregor, Scottish actor
  • 1972 – Hristos Polihroniou, Greek hammer thrower
  • 1972 – Alejandro Amenábar, Spanish film director
  • 1973 – Bold Forbes, Puerto Rican/American thoroughbred racehorse (d. 2000)
  • 1974 – Stefan Olsdal, Swedish bassist (Placebo)
  • 1974 – Benjamin Eicher, Swiss film director
  • 1976 – Josh Saviano, American actor
  • 1976 – Ashton Moore, American porn actress
  • 1977 – Toshiya, Japanese musician (Dir en grey)
  • 1977 – Garth Tander, Australian racing driver
  • 1978 – Stephen Clemence, English footballer
  • 1978 – Jérôme Rothen, French footballer
  • 1978 – Tony Yayo, American rapper
  • 1979 – Josh Kinney, American baseball player
  • 1980 – Chien-Ming Wang, Taiwanese baseball player
  • 1980 – Maaya Sakamoto, Japanese voice actor
  • 1980 – Michael Ryder, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1981 – Maarten van der Weijden, Dutch swimmer
  • 1982 – Lennon Murphy, American rock singer/songwriter
  • 1982 – Philippe Mexès, French footballer
  • 1983 – Paddy McCarthy, Irish footballer
  • 1983 – Vlasios Maras, Greek gymnast
  • 1984 – James Jones, American football player
  • 1987 – Georg Listing, Bassist of Tokio Hotel

March 31 – Deaths:

  • 1074 – Regency Yorimichi Fujiwara of Japan (b. 992)
  • 1204 – Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and England (b. 1121)
  • 1340 – Ivan I of Russia, Prince of Moscow (b. 1288)
  • 1547 – Francis I of France (b. 1494)
  • 1567 – Philipp I of Hesse (b. 1504)
  • 1621 – Philip III of Spain (b. 1578)
  • 1631 – John Donne, English writer and prelate (b. 1572)
  • 1671 – Anne Hyde, wife of James II of England (b. 1637)
  • 1703 – Johann Christoph Bach, German composer (b. 1642)
  • 1723 – Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, British-born American statesman (b. 1661)
  • 1727 – Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician and physicist (b. 1643)
  • 1741 – Pieter Burmann the Elder, Dutch classical scholar (b. 1668)
  • 1783 – Nikita Ivanovich Panin, Russian statesman (b. 1718)
  • 1837 – John Constable, English painter (b. 1776)
  • 1850 – John C. Calhoun, 7th Vice President of the United States (b. 1782)
  • 1855 – Charlotte Brontë, English author (b. 1816)
  • 1877 – Antoine Augustin Cournot, French mathematician (b. 1801)
  • 1880 – Henryk Wieniawski, Polish composer (b. 1835)
  • 1885 – Franz Wilhelm Abt, German composer (b. 1819)
  • 1913 – John Pierpont Morgan, American financier (b. 1837)
  • 1917 – Emil Adolf von Behring, German physician, Nobel laureate (b. 1854)
  • 1915 – Wyndham Halswelle, Scottish athlete (b. 1882)
  • 1927 – Borisav “Bora” Stankovic, Serbian writer (b. 1875)
  • 1931 – Knute Rockne, American football coach (b. 1888)
  • 1945 – Hans Fischer, German chemist, Nobel laureate (b. 1881)
  • 1945 – Anne Frank, German-born diarist (b. 1929)
  • 1952 – Wallace H. White, Jr., American politician (b. 1877)
  • 1956 – Ralph DePalma, Italian-American race car driver (b. 1884)
  • 1968 – Grover Lowdermilk, American baseball player (b. 1885)
  • 1972 – Meena Kumari, Indian actress (b. 1932)
  • 1976 – Paul Strand, American photographer (b. 1890)
  • 1978 – Charles Best, Canadian medical scientist (b. 1899)
  • 1980 – Vladimír Holan, Czech poet (b. 1905)
  • 1980 – Jesse Owens, American athlete (b. 1913)
  • 1981 – Enid Bagnold, British playwright (b. 1889)
  • 1984 – Ronald Clark O’Bryan, American murderer (b. 1944)
  • 1985 – Jeanine Deckers, Belgian nun (b. 1933)
  • 1986 – O’Kelly Isley, Jr., American singer (The Isley Brothers) (b. 1937)
  • 1986 – Jerry Paris, American actor (b. 1925)
  • 1988 – William McMahon, 20th Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1908)
  • 1993 – Brandon Lee, American actor (b. 1965)
  • 1993 – Mitchell Parish, American lyricist (b. 1900)
  • 1995 – Selena, American singer (b. 1971)
  • 1996 – Jeffrey Lee Pierce, American singer, songwriter and guitarist (The Gun Club) (b. 1958)
  • 1998 – Bella Abzug, American politician (b. 1920)
  • 1998 – Tim Flock, American race car driver (b. 1924)
  • 1999 – Yuri Knorozov, Russian linguist (b. 1922)
  • 2001 – Clifford Shull, American physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1915)
  • 2002 – Barry Took, British comedian (b. 1928)
  • 2003 – H.S.M. Coxeter, English-born geometer (b. 1907)
  • 2003 – Tommy Seebach, Danish singer (b. 1949)
  • 2003 – Anne Gwynne, American film actress (b. 1918)
  • 2005 – Stanley J. Korsmeyer, American oncologist (b. 1951)
  • 2005 – Frank Perdue, American poultry farmer (b. 1920)
  • 2005 – Terri Schiavo, American figure in right to die case (b. 1963)
  • 2006 – Jackie McLean, American jazz saxophonist (b. 1931 or 1932)
  • 2006 – Angela Devi, American adult model (b. 1975)
  • 2007 – Paul Watzlawick, Communications & Constructivism Theorist (b. 1921)

March 31 – Holidays:

  • New Jersey – Thomas Mundy Peterson Day
  • Freedom Day (Malta)
  • Abdas of Susa
  • Anesius and companions
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