Today in History


Today is Monday, July 31, the 212th day of 2023. There are 153 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 31, 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman, was made a major-general in the American Continental Army.

On this date:

In 1715, a fleet of Spanish ships carrying gold, silver and jewelry sank during a hurricane off the east Florida coast; of some 2,500 crew members, more than 1,000 died.

In 1919, Germany’s Weimar Constitution was adopted by the republic’s National Assembly.

In 1945, Pierre Laval, premier of the pro-Nazi Vichy government in France, surrendered to U.S. authorities in Austria; he was turned over to France, which later tried and executed him.

In 1953, Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio, known as “Mr. Republican,” died in New York at age 63.

In 1957, the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations designed to detect Soviet bombers approaching North America, went into operation.

In 1970, “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” came to an end after nearly 14 years as co-anchor Chet Huntley signed off for the last time; the broadcast was renamed “NBC Nightly News.”

In 1971, Apollo 15 crew members David Scott and James Irwin became the first astronauts to use a lunar rover on the surface of the moon.

In 1972, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton withdrew from the ticket with George McGovern following disclosures that Eagleton had once undergone psychiatric treatment.

In 1981, a seven-week-old Major League Baseball strike ended.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in Moscow.

In 2003, the Vatican launched a global campaign against gay marriages, warning Catholic politicians that support of same-sex unions was “gravely immoral” and urging non-Catholics to join the offensive.

In 2020, a federal appeals court overturned the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, saying the judge who oversaw the case didn’t adequately screen jurors for potential biases. (The Supreme Court later reimposed the sentence.)

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama’s national security team acknowledged for the first time that, when investigating one suspected terrorist, it could read and store the phone records of millions of Americans. Voters in Zimbabwe went to the polls in national elections that were won by President Robert Mugabe amid opponents’ allegations of fraud.

Five years ago: Jury selection began in the trial of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman; he was accused of failing to report tens of millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting fees. (Manafort was sentenced to a total of seven and a-half years in prison after being convicted at trial in Virginia and pleading guilty in Washington to two conspiracy counts.) Actor Alan Alda revealed that he has Parkinson’s disease, telling “CBS This Morning” that he’d been diagnosed three and a half years ago.

One year ago: Bill Russell, the NBA great who anchored a Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years — the last two as the first Black head coach in any major U.S. sport — and marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr., died at age 88. Nichelle Nichols, who broke barriers for Black women in Hollywood when she played communications officer Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek” television series, died at 89.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Don Murray is 94. Jazz composer-musician Kenny Burrell is 92. Actor France Nuyen is 84. Actor Susan Flannery is 84. Singer Lobo is 79. Actor Geraldine Chaplin is 79. Former movie studio executive Sherry Lansing is 79. Singer Gary Lewis is 78. Actor Lane Davies is 73. Actor Susan Wooldridge is 73. International Tennis Hall of Famer Evonne Goolagong Cawley is 72. Actor Barry Van Dyke is 72. Actor Alan Autry is 71. Jazz composer-musician Michael Wolff is 71. Actor James Read is 70. Actor Michael Biehn is 67. Rock singer-musician Daniel Ash (Love and Rockets) is 66. Actor Dirk Blocker is 66. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is 65. Rock musician Bill Berry (R.E.M.) is 65. Actor Wally Kurth is 65. Actor Wesley Snipes is 61. Country singer Chad Brock is 60. Musician Fatboy Slim is 60. Rock musician Jim Corr is 59. Author J.K. Rowling is 58. Actor Dean Cain is 57. Actor Jim True-Frost is 57. Actor Ben Chaplin is 54. Actor Loren Dean is 54. Actor Eve Best is 52. Actor s(pah-REES’) is 48. Country singer-musician Zac Brown is 45. Actor-producer-writer B.J. Novak is 44. Actor Eric Lively is 42. Singer Shannon Curfman is 38. NHL center Evgeni Malkin is 37. Hip-hop artist Lil Uzi Vert is 29. Actor Reese Hartwig is 25. Actor Rico Rodriguez is 25.

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