Today's History Trivia for January 31
1945 Execution of Private Slovik Private Eddie Slovik is executed. He was the only U.S. soldier executed for desertion during World War II and the only U.S. soldier executed for desertion since the American Civil War. Although over 21,000 U.S. soldiers were sentenced for desertion during World War II, Slovik was the only one executed. The TV movie The Execution of Private Slovik (1974), starring Martin Sheen, was based on his execution.
1865 13th Amendment The constitutional amendment abolishing slavery in the U.S. is passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. It would then go on to the states for ratification. "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
1990 McDonald's The fast food giant opens its first Russian restaurant in Moscow.
1989 32 Children Mrs. Maria Olivera of San Juan, Argentina gives birth to her 32nd child.
1974 The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman starring Cicely Tyson airs on TV. It won nine Emmy awards.
1971 Apollo program Apollo 14 lifts off for a manned mission to the moon.
1970 "Pistol" Pete Maravich The LSU basketball legend breaks Oscar Robertson's record 2,973 NCAA career points. He went on to score 3,667 points in his college career.
1961 First U.S. Chimpanzee in Space Ham the Astrochimp is launched in a Mercury test flight by NASA.
1958 First U.S. Satellite Explorer I is launched. It discovered the Van Allen radiation belt and remained in orbit until 1970.
1950 H-Bomb U.S. President Truman orders its development.
1930 Scotch Tape 3M markets Scotch Tape.
1929 Leon Trotsky The Marxist pioneer is exiled by the Soviet Union.
1918 Gregorian calendar is adopted by Russia The following day became February 14th.
1917 World War I Germany announces it will begin unrestricted submarine warfare.
1876 American Indians - General Custer U.S. President Grant extends the deadline for all Native Americans to move onto reservations. The Second Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) had guaranteed to the Lakota, Dakota Sioux, and Arapaho Indians exclusive possession of the Dakota territory west of the Missouri River. However, white gold miners were settling into sacred lands. Unwilling to remove the settlers and unable to persuade the Lakota to sell the territory, on December 6, 1875, the U.S. Commissioner on Indian Affairs ordered the Indians to return to their designated reservations by January 31, 1876. This deadline was untenable since the Indians had already settled into their winter quarters. Eventually, the army was brought in, leading to General Custer's ill-fated assault on the Indians the following June.
1867 Elective Franchise Act Provided the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
1774 Campus Earliest known use of the word - Latin for "field" - in a letter from Charles C. Beatty on this date discussing Princeton: "Last week to show our patriotism, we gathered all the steward's winter store of tea, and having made a fire in the Campus, we there burnt near a dozen pounds, tolled the bell and made many spirited resolves."
1747 The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Dock Hospital.
1606 Gunpowder Plot Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators are executed for attempting to blow up King James I and the English Parliament. They had been caught setting up 20 barrels of gunpowder at the Parliament building.
Today's Birthdays for January 31
1919 Jackie Robinson d. 1972 (Jack Roosevelt Robinson), American baseball player, 1949 MVP. He was the first black to play major-league baseball (1947, Brooklyn Dodgers) and was the first black inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1962).
American western novelist. His novels have been adapted into over 100 films. He played minor league baseball and played one major league game with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1903).
1769 André-Jacques Garnerin d. 1823 French balloonist, inventor of the frameless parachute. He made the first frameless parachute jump (1797). His parachute was an umbrella-like design of white canvas with a diameter of approximately 23 feet (7 m). Garnerin rode in a basket attached to the bottom of the parachute. The parachute and basket were suspended below a hot air balloon via a rope running through the center pole of the umbrella. At a height of approximately 3,000 feet (1,000 m) he severed the rope connecting his parachute to the balloon. The basket swung wildly during the descent, however, Garnerin emerged uninjured. He died when hit by a wooden beam while making one of his balloons.
1946 Terry Kath d. 1978 American rock guitarist, founding member of the band Chicago. He accidently killed himself playing with a gun. His last words were, "Don't worry, it's not loaded."
1938 James G. Watt U.S. Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Reagan (1981-83). In 1983, he banned The Beach Boys from performing their annual Fourth of July concert on the National Mall on the grounds that rock concerts drew "an undesirable element." Later that year he resigned as a result of a controversy from an ethnic joke he told.
1937 Suzanne Pleshette d. 2008 American actress. Film: The Birds (1963). TV: The Bob Newhart Show (1972-78, Bob's wife Emily).
1929 Jean Simmons d. 2010 English Emmy-winning actress. TV: The Thorn Birds (1983, Emmy).
1923 Norman Mailer d. 2007 American author, co-winner of a Pulitzer Prize for American History (1969). Writings: The Executioner's Song (1979, Pulitzer winner about Gary Gilmore) and Harlot's Ghost (1991, National Book Award winner).
1921 John Agar d. 2002 American actor, first husband of Shirley Temple. Film: Sands of Iwo Jima, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. B Movies: The Mole People and The Brain from Planet Arous.
1915 Garry Moore d. 1993 (Thomas Garrison Morfit), American entertainer. TV: The Garry Moore Show, I've Got A Secret (host), and To Tell the Truth (host).
1902 Tallulah Bankhead d. 1968 American actress. Stage: The Little Foxes (1939, Regina) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943, Sabrina). Film: Lifeboat (1944).
1892 Eddie Cantor d. 1964 (Edward Israel Iskowitz), American comedian. He starred in the Ziegfeld Follies from 1917 to 1919.
1868 Theodore William Richards d. 1928 American Nobel-winning Chemist, known for his research in atomic weights.
1830 James Gillespie Blaine d. 1893 American statesman, author, known as the Plumed Knight.
1797 Franz Peter Schubert d. 1828 Austrian composer.
Deaths for January 31
1945 Eddie Donald Slovik b. 1920 American Army private. He was the only U.S. soldier executed for desertion during World War II, and the first since the Civil War. Although over 21,000 U.S. soldiers were sentenced for desertion during World War II, Slovik was the only one executed. The TV movie The Execution of Private Slovik (1974), starring Martin Sheen, was based on his execution.
1606 Guy Fawkes b. 1570 English conspirator. He is known for his part in the Gunpowder Plot, in which he and his fellow conspirators attempted to blow up King James I and the English Parliament. The were caught and executed.
1995 George Abbott b. 1887 American Pulitzer and Tony-winning directory, screenwriter. Stage: Damn Yankees and The Pajama Game.
1989 Jack Douglas b. 1908 comedy writer.
1989 Bob Dunn b. 1908 American cartoonist. Author and artist for They'll Do It Every Time (1963-89).
1985 Barbara Cowsill b. 1928 American singer, member and mother of the singing family The Cowsills (They were the basis for TV's The Partridge Family). Music: The Rain The Park And Other Things (1967, #2) and the title song for the musical Hair (1969, #2).
1974 Samuel Goldwyn b. 1879 (Samuel Goldfish), Polish-born film maker. Quote: "I don't think anybody should write his autobiography until after he's dead."
1954 Edwin Howard Armstrong b. 1890 American electrical engineer, invented the superheterodyne receiver (1918) and FM radio (1933).
1936 Grace Gebbie Wiedersheim Drayton b. 1877 cartoonist. Famous for her drawings of The Campbell Kids (1905).
1933 John Galsworthy b. 1867 British Nobel-winning novelist. Writings: The Forsyte Saga (1922).