31 March

627         Battle of the Trench: Muhammad successfully withstands a siege for 27 days at Medina (Saudi Arabia) by Meccan forces under Abu Sufyan.

1492       Queen Isabella of Castille issues the Alhambra decree, ordering her 150,000 Jewish and Muslim subjects to convert to Christianity or face expulsion.

1499       Pope Pius IV (born), (died 1565)

1596       René Descartes (born), French philosopher and mathematician (died 1650)

1631       John Donne (died), English lawyer and poet (born 1572)

1675       Pope Benedict XIV (born) (died 1758)

1685       Johann Sebastian Bach (born), German organist and composer (died 1750)

1732       Joseph Haydn (born), Austrian composer (died 1809)

1774       The Kingdom of Great Britain orders the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.

1777       Charles Cagniard de la Tour (born), French physicist and engineer (died 1859)

1778       Coenraad Jacob Temminck (born), Dutch zoologist (died 1858)

1809      Otto Lindblad, (born) Swedish composer (died 1864)

1850      John C. Calhoun (died), American politician, 7th Vice President of the United States (born 1782)

1855       Alfred E. Hunt (born), American businessman (died 1899)

1855       Charlotte Brontë (died), English author (born 1816)

1872       Sergei Diaghilev (born), Russian ballet manager and critic, founded the Ballets Russes (died 1929)

1889      The Eiffel Tower is officially opened.

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       Construction of the ill fated RMS Titanic begins.

1910       Six North Staffordshire Pottery towns federate to form modern Stoke-on-Trent.

1913       J. P. Morgan (died), American banker and financier, founded J.P. Morgan & Co. (born 1837)

1917       Emil Adolf von Behring (died), German physician, Nobel Prize laureate (born 1854)

1917       The United States takes possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renames the territory the United States Virgin Islands.

1918       Daylight saving time goes into effect in the United States for the first time.

1922       Richard Kiley (born), American actor (died 1999)

1926       John Fowles (born), English author (died 2005)

1927       Cesar Chavez (born), American activist (died 1993)

1928       Lefty Frizzell (born), American singer-songwriter and guitarist (died 1975)

1929       Liz Claiborne (born), Belgian-American fashion designer, founded Liz Claiborne (died 2007)

1930       The Motion Pictures Production Code is instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film, in the U.S., for the next thirty eight years.

1931       TWA Flight 599 crashes near Bazaar, Kansas killing 8 including Knute Rockne (born 1888), head football coach at the University of Notre Dame

1933       Anita Carter (born), American singer-songwriter and bassist (Carter Family and The Carter Sisters) (d. 1999)

1933       The Civilian Conservation Corps is established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment in the United States.

1934       John D. Loudermilk (born), American singer-songwriter and guitarist

1934       Richard Chamberlain (born), American actor and singer

1934       Shirley Jones (born), American actress and singer

1935       Georges V. Matchabelli (died), Georgian-American businessman and diplomat, founded Prince Matchabelli perfume (born 1885)

1935       Herb Alpert (born), American singer-songwriter and trumpet player

1940       Barney Frank (born), American politician

1940       Patrick Leahy (born), American politician

1942       Michael Savage (born), American radio host and author

1942       World War II: Japanese forces invade Christmas Island, then a British possession.

1943       Christopher Walke (born), American actor

1945       Gabe Kaplan (born), American actor

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.

1948       Al Gore (born), American politician, 45th Vice President of the United States and Nobel Prize laureate

1948       Rhea Perlman (born), American actress

1949       The Dominion of Newfoundland joins the Canadian Confederation and becomes the 10th Province of Canada.

1951       Remington Rand delivers the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau.

1955       Angus Young (born), Scottish-Australian guitarist and songwriter (AC/DC and Marcus Hook Roll Band)

1966       Nick Firestone (born), American race car driver

1970       Explorer 1 re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere after 12 years in orbit.

1970       Nine terrorists from the Japanese Red Army hijack Japan Airlines Flight 351 at Tokyo International Airport, wielding samurai swords and carrying a bomb.

1980      Jesse Owens (died), American sprinter and long jumper (born 1913)

1985       The first WrestleMania, the biggest wrestling event from the WWE (then the WWF), takes place in Madison Square Garden in New York.

1990       200,000 protestors take to the streets of London to protest against the newly introduced Poll Tax.

1991       Georgian independence referendum, 1991: nearly 99 percent of the voters support the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.

1993       Brandon Lee (died), American actor and martial artist (born 1965)

1994       The journal Nature reports the discovery in Ethiopia of the first complete Australopithecus afarensis skull.

1998       Bella Abzug (died), American lawyer and politician (born 1920)

2004      In Fallujah, Iraq, 4 American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA, are killed after being ambushed.

2005      Terri Schiavo (died), American medical patient (born 1963)

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EO Smith

Interests include biological anthropology, evolution, social behavior, and human behavior. Conducted field research in the Tana River National Primate Reserve, Kenya and on Angaur, Palau, Micronesia, as well as research with captive nonhuman primates at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Institute for Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya.
EO Smith
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