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This Day in History: July 31

Events

1498 – On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.

1715 – Seven days after a Spanish treasure fleet of 12 ships left Havana, Cuba for Spain, 11 of them sink in a storm off the coast of Florida. A few centuries later, treasure is salvaged from these wrecks.

1763 – Odawa Chief Pontiac's forces defeat British troops at the Battle of Bloody Run during Pontiac's War.

1777 – The U.S. Second Continental Congress passes a resolution that the services of Gilbert du Motier "be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States."

1790 – The first U.S. patent is issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

1874 – Dr. Patrick Francis Healy became the first Black man to be inaugurated as president of a predominantly White American university.

1941 – The Holocaust: Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring, orders SS General Reinhard Heydrich to "submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question."

1948 – At Idlewild Field in New York, New York International Airport (later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport) is dedicated.

1948 – USS Nevada is sunk by an aerial torpedo after surviving hits from two atomic bombs (as part of post-war tests) and being used for target practice by three other ships.

1950 – United Nations Security Council Resolution 85 relating to Korean War is adopted.

1961 – At Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the first All-Star Game tie in Major League Baseball history occurs when the game is stopped in the ninth inning because of rain.

1964 – Ranger program: Ranger 7 sends back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.

1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 15 astronauts become the first to ride in a lunar rover.

1973 – A Delta Air Lines jetliner, flight DL 723 crashes while landing in fog at Logan International Airport, Boston, Massachusetts killing 89.

1991 – The United States and Soviet Union both sign the START I Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the first to reduce (with verification) both countries' stockpiles.

1999 – Discovery Program: Lunar Prospector: NASA intentionally crashes the spacecraft into the Moon, thus ending its mission to detect frozen water on the moon's surface.

2012 – Michael Phelps breaks the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the most medals won at the Olympics.

Births

1816 – George Henry Thomas, American general (d. 1870)

1826 – William S. Clark, American colonel and politician (d. 1886)

1860 – Mary Vaux Walcott, American painter and illustrator (d. 1940)

1867 – S. S. Kresge, American businessman, founded Kmart (d. 1966)

1886 – Fred Quimby, American animator and producer (d. 1965)

1892 – Herbert W. Armstrong, American evangelist and publisher, founded Worldwide Church of God (d. 1986)

1912 – Milton Friedman, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2006)

1919 – Curt Gowdy, American sportscaster and actor (d. 2006)

1921 – Whitney Young, American activist (d. 1971)

1923 – Ahmet Ertegun, Turkish-American songwriter and producer, founded Atlantic Records (d. 2006)

1923 – Stephanie Kwolek, American chemist and engineer, invented Kevlar (d. 2014)

1928 – Bill Frenzel, American lieutenant and politician (d. 2014)

1932 – John Searle, American philosopher and academic

1958 – Mark Cuban, American businessman and television personality

Deaths

1556 – Ignatius of Loyola, Spanish priest and theologian, founded the Society of Jesus (b. 1491)

1875 – Andrew Johnson, American general and politician, 17th President of the United States (b. 1808)

1953 – Robert A. Taft, American soldier and politician (b. 1889)

2000 – William Keepers Maxwell, Jr., American journalist and author (b. 1908)

2012 – Gore Vidal, American journalist, novelist, and screenwriter (b. 1925)

2015 – Roddy Piper, Canadian-American wrestler and actor (b. 1954)