This Day in History — August 31

This is the 243rd day of 2022. There are 122 days left in the year.


2005: Panicked by rumours of a suicide bomber, thousands of Shiite pilgrims break into a stampede on a bridge in Baghdad during a religious procession, crushing one another or plunging into the Tigris river. Nearly 1,000 die, mostly women and children.


1290: Jews are exiled from England by proclamation of King Edward I.

1422: Henry VI becomes King of England at the age of nine months.

1704: Forces of Russia’s Czar Peter the Great take Narva in Russia.

1837: Ralph Waldo Emerson gives his famous The American Scholar speech to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and declares American literary independence from Europe.

1842: Micah Rugg patents a nuts and bolts machine.

1850: King Kamehameha III officially declares Honolulu a city and the capital of his kingdom.

1876: Turkey’s Sultan Murad V is deposed on a plea of insanity and is succeeded by Abdul Hamid II.

1886: In one of America’s worst disasters, 110 people are killed when an earthquake rocks Charleston, South Carolina.

1888: The mutilated body of Mary Ann Nichols is discovered in the Whitechapel district of London’s East End; many believe she is the first victim of Jack the Ripper.

1889: The Second International Electrical Congress adopts the joule as a unit of energy (after James Prescott Joule), the watt as a unit of power (after James Watt), and the quadrant as a unit of electrical inductance (later renamed henry).

1897: Thomas Edison patents the kinetoscope (kinetographic camera), a device which produces moving pictures.

1900: British forces under Frederick Roberts occupy Johannesburg, South Africa.

1911: The Sullivan Act requiring New Yorkers to possess licences for firearms small enough to be concealed comes into effect.

1918: Bolshevik troops attack the British Embassy in Petrograd, Russia.

1923: Italy starts a brief occupation of the Greek island of Corfu after the murder of a boundary delegation.

1935: US President Franklin D Roosevelt signs an Act prohibiting the export of US arms to belligerents.

1942: German General Rommel renews offensive against the British at Alam Halfa in North Africa in World War II, but is driven back to original lines.

1957: Malaysia gains independence as the Federation of Malaya.

1962: Trinidad and Tobago becomes an independent nation within the British Commonwealth.

1971: Cuba terminates the airlift that brought 246,000 Cuban refugees from Havana to Florida since December 1965.

1977: Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith’s party wins the election and gains all 50 white seats in Parliament. The vote gives Smith a mandate to negotiate with black leaders on greater political representation for the country’s six million blacks.

1980: Polish labour leaders sign agreements with the Communist Government, establishing for the first time in a Soviet-bloc nation the rights to strike and to establish free trade unions.

1982: El Salvador Defences Minister Jose Guillermo Garcia Merino discloses that the armed forces have suffered 3,657 casualties in a year, bringing the number of people killed by rightists during the three-year civil war to more than 35,000.

1986: Moscow’s secret police hold US news correspondent Nicholas Daniloff on spying allegations. His wife calls it a frame-up.

1987: Government and Opposition officials in South Korea agree on revising the constitution to clear the way for direct presidential elections and other reforms.

1990: After Armenian Republic’s Parliament declares a state of emergency, 250 militant nationalists give up their weapons.

1991: Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan become the ninth and tenth Soviet republics, respectively, to declare independence.

1992: An 11-day stand-off in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, between government officials and an armed family, headed by self-proclaimed white separatist Randy Weaver, ends with his surrender. Three people — Weaver’s wife Vicki, his 14-year-old son Sammy, and US Marshal William Degan — had been killed during the siege.

1994: The Irish Republican Army declares an open-ended ceasefire in its 24-year campaign against British rule of Northern Ireland.

1995: A bomb-laden car explodes in a crowded square outside Algeria’s national police headquarters, killing 10 and injuring 15.

1996: Iraq captures Irbil in northern Iraq, a key city inside the Kurdish “safe haven” protected by US-led forces. It is Saddam Hussein’s largest military action since the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

1997: Typhoon Rex veers away from Japan’s main island of Honshu but the record rainfall it spawned forces thousands to flee their homes. Flooding and landslides caused by the rains kill 14 people and injure 45.

1998: North Korea launches a new, more powerful, long-range ballistic missile that crosses over Japan’s main island and crashes into the Pacific Ocean. The test draws strong protests from Japan and the United States.

2002: A Russian Mi-24 assault helicopter is shot down by a missile in Chechnya. Both of the gunship’s pilots are killed. Chechen rebels claim responsibility.

2004: Militants in Iraq kill 12 Nepalese contract workers in a gruesome video discovered on an Islamic website, showing one of them beheaded and the 11 others shot in a methodical series of execution-style slayings.

2006: Police in Norway recover Edvard Munch masterpieces The Scream and Madonna, two years after masked gunmen grabbed the national art treasures in front of stunned visitors at an Oslo museum.

2007: The 25th anniversary of the “Elk Cloner” — regarded as the first virus to hit personal computers worldwide — is observed.

2008: Practitioners of the ancient Greek religion, Sacred Society of Greek Ancient Religionists, gather among the ruined temples at the Acropolis, praying to Athena to stop the removal of sculptures and pieces of the temples to museums. Participants claim it is the first such gathering since the religion was abolished late in the fourth century.

2009: Riot police briefly detain about 15 people trying to hold an anti-Kremlin demonstration in central Moscow to defend Russians’ constitutional right to assembly.

2010: Palestinian gunmen open fire on an Israeli car in the West Bank and kill four passengers on the eve of a new round of Mideast peace talks in Washington. The Islamic militant group Hamas claims responsibility.

2011: Bahraini security forces clash with anti-Government protesters following morning prayers, and a 14-year-old boy dies after being hit by a police tear gas canister.

2016: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is impeached and removed from office after the country’s Senate finds her guilty of having used State bank funds to cover up a budget deficit in the run-up to her re-election in 2014.


Caligula, Roman emperor (12-41 ce); Jahāngīr, emperor of India (1569-1627); Theophile Gautier, French author (1811-1872); Maria Montessori, Italian doctor and educator (1870-1952); William Saroyan, US writer (1908-1981); Buddy Hackett, US actor/comedian (1924-2003); Van Morrison, Irish singer (1945- ); Itzhak Perlman, Israeli violinist (1945- ); Richard Gere, US actor (1949- ).

– AP

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