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Events, deaths, births, of JAN 31
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^  On a 31 January:
2006 Alan Greenspan [06 Mar 1926~], chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank since 11 August 1987, resigns. He is succeeded by Ben Bernanke [13 Dec 1953~]. — (060201)
2003 The US Food and Drug Administration determines that Prussian blue (ferric hexacyanoferrate) [sample >] swallowed in a 500-mg capsule, can reduce by half the time the body takes to eliminate radioactive cesium and thallium, which might be used in a radiation-spreading bomb. — more
2001 Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi, 48, is convicted of the murder of the 270 victims of the 21 December 1988 Pan Am crash in Lockerbie, Scotland. His Libyan co-defendant, Ali Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, is acquitted by the Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. al-Megrahi's mandatory sentence is life in prison, the court recommends consideration of parole after 20 years. An appeal is expected. The families of the victims are expected to proceed with a $10 billion civil suit against Libya.
2001 During a 55-minute period a computer error posts extravagantly low United Airlines fares at www.ual.com. For example $24.98 for San Francisco to Paris round trip (at the special “E-fare” rate listed on 20 February 2001 at http://www.itn.net/cgi/get?itn/air/uamultipromo/index it would be $298). 143 such tickets are sold and United refuses to honor them until, faced with outraged customers, it relents on 19 February.
^ 1999 (Sunday) Clinton impeachment trial: wrangle over exit.

(1) On the eve of Monica Lewinsky's deposition testimony in President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, Democratic and Republican senators wrangle over GOP exit strategies that would leave the president in office but formally declare that he committed wrongdoing. One plan floating on Capitol Hill, brought forward by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), would have the Senate vote on "findings of fact" about Clinton's misconduct, prior to a final vote on the two articles of impeachment lodged against him. The motion would require only a simple majority to pass, rather than the two-thirds vote needed to approve the impeachment articles. "I am not attempting to convict the president but not remove him. I am not attempting to find him guilty in the legal sense of criminal wrongdoing," Collins says on NBC's "Meet The Press." "What the approach that a number of us are working on would do is to set forth findings of fact from the evidence based on the trial, on which we could build a bipartisan consensus." A related but slightly different proposal is been offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R-Utah), under which the Senate would adjourn after condemning Clinton's conduct, without votes on the impeachment articles. While many Democrats question the constitutionality of these approaches, one influential member of the president's party, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, says that he has been having discussions with Republican senators about both proposals. He indicates he would be open to considering them, depending on the wording of the condemnation of Clinton. "I've advised my Democratic colleagues (that) ... we shouldn't rush to judgment on the question of findings (of fact) until we see what the findings are," he says on ABC's "This Week."

(2) Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jim Kennedy says that the two women on Clinton's team, Nicole Seligman and Cheryl Mills, will lead the questioning of Lewinsky. Rep. Ed Bryant (R-Tennessee) will query her on behalf of the managers. The questioning will take place at the Mayflower Hotel, where Lewinsky has been staying since arriving back in Washington from Los Angeles this afternoon. It will be the first chance House managers have had to question her extensively, though three of them held a short interview with her last weekend. It will be the first time the president's lawyers have had a chance to cross-examine her. And it will be the first time that her story is caught on videotape. Collins: Opening wide for the President

(3) The New York Times reports Starr is considering seeking a grand jury criminal indictment of Clinton. The Times story, quoting Starr associates, says that Starr had concluded that he had the constitutional authority to criminally indict the president while he is still in office.
from http://members.tripod.com/~jkahn/1999january.html

1996 Corel purchases WordPerfect Corporation from Novell. Once the best-selling word processor, WordPerfect had steadily declined in popularity throughout the '90s, until the WordPerfect suite of office applications held less than twenty percent of the market. Novell had purchased WordPerfect in 1994, in an unsuccessful attempt to combat Microsoft's growing dominance in the consumer software field.
1996 The last Cubans held in refugee camps at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base board a plane for Florida.
1994 Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches a record 3978
1991 Allied forces claim victory against Iraqi attackers at battle for Khafji, Saudi Arabia, which ends after 3 days.
1991 During the Gulf War, Army Specialists Melissa Rathbun-Nealy and David Lockett are captured by Iraqi forces near the Kuwaiti-Saudi border; both would be eventually released.
1990 State of the Union Address by US President George H. W. Bush (Sr.).
^ 1990 McMartin preschool retrial
      Los Angeles prosecutors announce that they will retry Raymond Buckey, who was accused of molesting children at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California. The McMartin trials had already taken over six years and cost more than $16 million without a single guilty verdict resulting from 200 charges. However, a jury had deadlocked on 13 charges (voting 11-2 for acquittal) against Buckey, and prosecutors were not willing to let the matter drop. The McMartin prosecutions represented the height of the hysteria over sexual abuse of children in America. Despite a complete lack of reputable evidence against the teachers and workers at the McMartin preschool, and with every indication that the children had been coerced and manipulated into their testimony, the prosecutors nonetheless proceeded against Ray Buckey for more than six years. "Believe the children" became the mantra of advocates who insisted that children never lied or were mistaken about abuse. The courts made unprecedented changes to criminal procedure to accommodate this mistaken notion. The California Supreme Court ruled that child witnesses were not required to provide details about the time and place of the alleged molestation to support a conviction. The US Supreme Court held that child witnesses could testify outside the courtroom despite the Sixth Amendment's clear command that a defendant had the right to confront his or her accusers. Throughout the nation, parents and day-care workers were jailed after false, and often absurd, allegations about child sexual abuse. As this hysteria swept the country, abuse counseling quickly became a cottage industry, attracting often-unqualified people who seemed to find sexual abuse everywhere. Recent research has found that young children are exceptionally easy to manipulate. Even when only subtly suggested, a child will respond with the answers he or she believes a questioner wants to hear. This was abundantly clear in Ray Buckey's case. In one instance, a girl initially failed to identify Buckey as someone who had harmed her. After an interview with Children's Institute International, the counseling agency who worked with every child in the case, the girl did pick Buckey as her attacker. It later turned out that Buckey wasn't even at the school during the time period that the child attended McMartin. Buckey's retrial went much faster. By July, the jury had acquitted on seven charges and were deadlocked (once again, the majority voting for acquittal) on the other six accusations. The district attorney finally decided to drop the case at that point. However, Buckey and the other accused workers at the school were not allowed to bring a civil suit. The courts ruled that anyone reporting child abuse has total immunity, even if there was knowledge that the report was false.
Oryx ^ 1990 First McDonald's in Soviet Union opens.
      The Soviet Union's first McDonald's fast food restaurant, the biggest in the world, opens in Moscow. Throngs of people line up to pay the equivalent of several days' wages for Big Macs, shakes, and french fries. The appearance of this notorious symbol of capitalism and the enthusiastic reception it received from the Russian people were signs that times were changing in the Soviet Union. An American journalist on the scene reported the customers seemed most amazed at the "simple sight of polite shop workers...in this nation of commercial boorishness." A Soviet journalist had a more practical opinion, stating that the restaurant was "the expression of America's rationalism and pragmatism toward food." He also noted that the "contrast with our own unrealized pretensions is both sad and challenging." For the average Russian customer, however, visiting the restaurant was less a political statement than an opportunity to enjoy a small pleasure in a country still reeling from disastrous economic problems and internal political turmoil. The arrival of McDonald's in Moscow was a small but certain sign that change was on the horizon. In fact, less than two years later, the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a nation, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as leader of the country, and various Soviet republics proclaimed their independence. As the American newsman reported, the first Russian McDonald's customers "had seen the future, and it works, at least as far as their digestive tract."
1985 South African President PW Botha offers to free Mandela if he denounces violence
1982 10 Arabian oryx (extinct except in zoos) released in Oman [photo >]
1977 Frenchman François Claustre freed, after 33 months as hostage in Chad
1973 Washington Post story: “Last Two Guilty in Watergate Plot — Ex-Aides of Nixon to Appeal — Jury Convicts Liddy, McCord in 90 Minutes ” by Lawrence Meyer (reporting on For the previous day)
1972 Birendra becomes king of Nepal (crowned in 1975), upon the death of his father king Mahendra.
1972 Military coup replaces the civilian government of Ghana by a National Redemption Council of military men chaired by Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong. The national assembly was dissolved, public meetings prohibited, political parties proscribed, and leading politicians imprisoned.
^ 1972 North Vietnam presents peace proposal
      In a communiqué charging President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger with "unilaterally" divulging the substance of the secret talks, creating the impasse at the secret meeting, and distorting the facts, North Vietnam publishes the nine-point plan they submitted during the secret talks. Since August 1969, talks between Kissinger and North Vietnamese representatives had been going on secretly in Paris. On January 25, Nixon, in response to criticism that his administration had not made its best efforts to end the war, revealed that Kissinger had been involved in the secret talks. Nixon also disclosed the text of an eight-point peace proposal presented privately to the North Vietnamese on October 11, 1971. In their communiqué, the North Vietnamese answered with their own peace plan. While Washington requested the withdrawal of all foreign forces from South Vietnam with the condition of an agreement in principle on a final solution, Hanoi insisted on the withdrawal of US and Allied troops from all of Indochina without condition. Hanoi also demanded the immediate resignation of the South Vietnamese Thieu regime. With the secret talks made public and at an impasse, the North Vietnamese leadership decided to launch a massive invasion of South Vietnam in March 1972.
1971 astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr., Edgar D. Mitchell and Stuart A. Roosa blast off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.
1968 Nauru (formerly Pleasant Island) declares independence from Australia (celebrates Independence Day)
1968 Record high barometric pressure (1083.8 mb, 32"), at Agata, USSR
^ 1968 Viet Cong's Tet offensive begins
      During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese Communists launch the Tet offensive, a massive series of offensives against strategic and civilian locations throughout South Vietnam. Timed to coincide with the first day of the lunar New Year — Vietnam’s most important holiday — the size and scope of the Tet offensive takes US command by surprise. The Vietcong strike at Saigon, including a penetration of the US embassy compound, siege a US Marine base at Khe Sanh, and capture the provincial capital of Hue, among other initial gains. By the end of February, US and South Vietnamese forces have repulsed the offensive and inflicted heavy losses on the Vietcong, but the episode exposes the reality that, contrary to what US military command previously espoused, an end to the war is not in sight. Following the Tet offensive, American leaders begin a slow and agonizing reduction of US involvement, and US President Lyndon Johnson limits bombing, begins peace talks with Hanoi and the Vietcong, and withdraws his candidate for reelection. The Tet offensive is widely regarded as a turning point in the Vietnam conflict.
Viet Cong attack US Embassy in Saigon.
      As part of the Tet Offensive, Viet Cong soldiers attack the US Embassy in Saigon. A 19-man suicide squad seized the US Embassy and held it for six hours until an assault force of US paratroopers landed by helicopter on the building's roof and routed them. The offensive was launched on January 30, when communist forces attacked Saigon, Hue, five of six autonomous cities, 36 of 44 provincial capitals, and 64 of 245 district capitals. The timing and magnitude of the attacks caught the South Vietnamese and American forces off guard, but eventually the Allied forces turned the tide. Militarily, the Tet Offensive was a disaster for the communists. By the end of March 1968, they had not achieved any of their objectives and had lost 32,000 soldiers and had 5,800 captured. US forces suffered 3,895 dead; South Vietnamese losses were 4,954; non-US allies lost 214. More than 14,300 South Vietnamese civilians died. While the offensive was a crushing military defeat for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, the early reporting of a smashing communist victory went largely uncorrected in the media and this led to a great psychological victory for the communists. The heavy US casualties incurred during the offensive coupled with the disillusionment over the earlier overly optimistic reports of progress in the war accelerated the growing disenchantment with President Johnson's conduct of the war. Johnson, frustrated with his inability to reach a solution in Vietnam announced on March 31, 1968, that he would neither seek nor accept the nomination of his party for re-election.
^ 1968 Apollo 14 departs for the Moon
      Apollo 14, piloted by astronauts Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Edgar D. Mitchell, and Stuart A. Roosa, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a manned mission to the moon. On February 5, after suffering some initial problems in docking the lunar and command modules, Shepard and Mitchell descend to the lunar surface on the third US moon landing. Upon stepping out of the lunar module, Shepard, who was the first American in space in 1961 aboard Freedom 7, becomes the fifth astronaut to walk on the moon. Shepard and Mitchell remain on the lunar surface for nearly thirty-four hours, conduct simple scientific experiments such as hitting golf balls into space with Shepard’s golf club, and collect ninety-six pounds of lunar samples. On February 9, Apollo 14 safely returns to earth.
1964 US report Smoking and Health connects smoking to lung cancer
^ 1962 The OAS expels Cuba
      The Organization of American States (OAS) adopts a resolution to expel Cuba from its ranks for its attempted subversion of other OAS countries. The OAS, a regional agency initially comprising twenty-one North, South, and Central American nations, was established in 1948 to promote peace and economic development in the Americas. On January 1, 1959, after a bloody three-year civil war, Cuban rebel leader Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba and proclaimed himself premier of the island nation. The Organization of American States initially recognized the new leftist leader of Cuba, an important member state in the OAS, but grew critical of the Cuban dictator after he launched a program of agrarian reform, nationalized international assets on the island, and declared a Marxist government. In January of 1961, the US broke diplomatic relations with Cuba and three months later, with training and support by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Cuban exiles launched an ill-fated invasion of Cuba, known as the "Bay of Pigs." In January of the next year, under pressure from the US, the OAS voted to expel Cuba from its ranks in an attempt to isolate Castor’s Communist regime.
1961 David Ben-Gurion resigns as premier of Israel
1961 NATO secretary-General Paul-Henri Spaak says he'll resign
1961 Ham is first primate in space (158 miles) aboard Mercury/Redstone 2
1958 James van Allen discovers radiation belt
1958 The US launches Explorer 1, the country's first satellite. Satellite communication would prove instrumental to the growth of wireless communications, including cell phones, pagers, cellular modems, and a variety of other mobile computing devices.
1957 Trans-Iranian oil pipe line finished
1956 French government of Mollet forms
1956 Juscelino Kubitschek becomes President of Brazil
^ 1950 Truman announces start of development of the nuclear fusion bomb
      US President Harry S. Truman publicly announces that he ordered the Atomic Energy Commission to develop the nuclear fusion (“hydrogen”) bomb, a weapon theorized to be dozens of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. Five months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan. Several weeks after that, British and US intelligence came to the staggering conclusion the German-born Klaus Fuchs, a top-ranking scientist in the US nuclear program, was a spy for the Soviet Union. These two events, and the fact that the Soviets now knew everything that the Americans did about how to build a hydrogen bomb, led Truman to approve massive funding for the superpower race to complete the world’s first "superbomb," as he described it in his public announcement on January 31, 1950. On November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated "Mike," the world’s first hydrogen bomb, on the Elugelab Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The 10.4-megaton thermonuclear device, built upon the Teller-Ulam principles of staged radiation implosion, instantly vaporized an entire island and left behind a crater a couple of kilometers wide. The incredible explosive force of Mike was also apparent from the sheer magnitude of its mushroom cloud — within ninety seconds the mushroom cloud climbed to 17'000 m and entered the stratosphere. One minute later it reached 33'000 m, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 36'500 feet. Half an hour after the test, the mushroom stretched 100 km across, with the base of the head joining the stem at 14'000 m. Two years later, on November 22, 1954, the Soviet Union would detonate its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion. Both superpowers were now in possession of the "hell bomb," as it was known by many Americans, and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war for the first time in history.
1946 Yugoslavia adopts new constitution, becomes a federal republic
1945 US 4th Infantry division occupies Elcherrath
1944 During World War II, US forces begin invading Kwajalein Atoll and other parts of the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.
1944 Operation-Overlord (D-Day) postponed until June
1943 Chile breaks diplomatic relations with Germany and Japan
General Friedrich von Paulus surrenders to Russian troops at Stalingrad
^ 1943 Capitulation allemande à Stalingrad.
      Le maréchal Friedrich von Paulus signe la capitulation de la VIe armée allemande à Stalingrad. Ayant soumis l'Europe continentale au terme de plusieurs guerres-éclair, Hitler ne trouva que l'Angleterre de Winston Churchill pour lui résister pendant un an. Mais le 22 juin 1941, le dictateur allemand attaque son allié Staline. Ses troupes envahissent l'URSS et arrivent aux portes de Moscou et de Léningrad. Une partie de la Wehrmacht se dirige vers le sud et les gisements de pétrole du Caucase tandis que la VIe Armée de von Paulus oblique vers la ville de Stalingrad. Cette métropole industrielle située sur la Volga a changé son nom de Tsaritsyn pour celui du dictateur soviétique (la ville s'appelle aujourd'hui Volgograd, la "ville de la Volga"). Le Führer veut à tout prix s'en emparer. Stalingrad, qui s'étend sur 40 km, est conquise rue par rue pendant l'automne 1942, au prix d'immenses souffrances des deux côtés. Mais le chef d'état-major soviétique, le général Joukov, devine que les Allemands se sont avancés trop loin de leurs bases. Il regroupe ses forces et déclenche une puissante contre-offensive. Le 19 novembre, deux armées soviétiques se dirigent sur Stalingrad en empruntant la Volga gelée, l'une par le nord, l'autre par le sud. La VIe Armée allemande est bientôt emprisonnée dans sa conquête, une ville en ruine plongée dans le terrible hiver russe! Hitler interdit à von Paulus de faire retraite. En janvier, il le nomme maréchal pour le détourner du déshonneur de la capitulation. Mais von Paulus n'a bientôt plus d'autre solution que de se rendre avec les 90.000 soldats survivants du siège. Son armée aura perdu 400'000 hommes dont 120'000 prisonniers. La victoire des Soviétiques, trois mois après celle des Britanniques à El Alamein, soulève un immense espoir dans les pays soumis à l'occupation allemande. En démontrant la vulnérabilité des armées allemandes, la bataille de Stalingrad marque un tournant dans la Seconde Guerre mondiale. La défaite de Hitler devient inéluctable. Anniversaire: Franz Schubert est né à Vienne le 31 janvier 1797.
     Die in Stalingrad eingeschlossene 6. Armee unter dem noch schnell zum Generalfeldmarschall beförderten Paulus kapituliert mit über 300.000 Mann, die unterernährt und schlecht ausgerüstet in Gefangenschaft gehen.
1943 39 U boats sunk this month (203'100 tons)
1942 62 U boats sunk this month (327'000 tons)
1942 Chrysler, Plymouth, and Studebaker Retool For War The last pre-war automobiles produced by Chrysler, Plymouth, and Studebaker rolled off the assembly lines today. Wartime restrictions had shut down the commercial automobile industry almost completely, and auto manufacturers were racing to retool their factories for military gear.
1941 21 U boats sunk this month (127'000 tons)
1940 40 U boats sunk this month (111'000 tons)
^ 1940 First monthly Social Security check.
      Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, receives a $22.54 check from the Federal government.It is the first monthly retirement payment made under the Social Security Act. When the act initially passed in 1935, benefits were paid out in lump sums. But, with Fuller’s check, the government starts its program of doling out regular benefits to retired workers. For Fuller, it is simply the first in a series of payments that would lasted for the next thirty-five years: Before dying at age 100 in 1975, Fuller would received regular payments totaling $22'000.
1934 US President Franklin Roosevelt devalues the dollar in relation to gold to $35 per ounce
1933 French government of Daladier takes power
1933 Hitler promises parliamentary democracy
1929 Leon Trotsky expelled from Russia to Turkey
1927 International allies military command in Germany disbands
1925 Premier Ahmed Zogu becomes President of Angola
^ 1917 Germany announces that its U-boats will attack neutral ships.
      Germany's admiral Tirpitz announces the renewal of unlimited submarine warfare in the Atlantic, and German torpedo-armed submarines prepare to attack any and all ships, including civilian passenger carriers, said to be sited in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. None of the 25 Americans on board were killed, and all were later picked up by a British steamer. When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America's closest trading partners, and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter's attempted quarantine of the British isles. Several US ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines, and in February 1915 Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain.
      One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American vessel that was transporting grain to England when it disappeared. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized and called the attack an unfortunate mistake. The Germans' most formidable naval weapon was the U-boat, a submarine far more sophisticated than those built by other nations at the time. The typical U-boat was 214 feet long, carried 35 men and 12 torpedoes, and could travel underwater for two hours at a time. In the first few years of World War I, the U-boats took a terrible toll on Allied shipping. In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement of the imminent sailing of the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner from New York to Liverpool.
      On May 7, the Lusitania was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1959 passengers, 1198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the US demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. Public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany. In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announces the resumption of unrestricted warfare.
      The United States would break off diplomatic relations with Germany on 3 February, and on 22 February Congress would pass a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. Two days later, British authorities gave the US ambassador to Britain a copy of the "Zimmermann Note," a coded message from German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to Mexico. In the telegram, intercepted and deciphered by British intelligence, Zimmermann stated that, in the event of war with the United States, Mexico should be asked to enter the conflict as a German ally. In return, Germany promised to restore to Mexico the lost territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. On March 1, the US State Department published the note, and American public opinion was galvanized against Germany. In late March, Germany sunk four more US merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted 82 to six to declare war against Germany. Two days later, the House of Representatives endorsed the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally entered World War I. On June 26, the first 14,000 US infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. After four years of bloody stalemate along the western front, the entrance of America's well-supplied forces into the conflict was a major turning point in the war. When the war finally ended, on 11 November 11, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50'000 of these men had lost their lives.
1915 first (German) poison gas attack, against Russians
1906 Strongest instrumentally recorded earthquake, Colombia, 8.6 Richter
1905 first auto to exceed 100 mph (161 kph), A G MacDonald, Daytona Beach
1901 Boer Generals Jan Smuts and De la Rey conquer Mud river Transvaal, during the South African war.
1895 José Martí and others leave New York City NY for invasion of Spanish Cuba
1871 Millions of birds fly over western San Francisco, darken the sky
1865 US House of Representatives passes 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery (121-24)
1865 General Robert E Lee named Commander-in-Chief of Confederate Armies
1865 Robert Edward Lee named General-in-Chief of all Confederate armies
1863 Confederate ironclads temporarily break the blockade at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
1863 first black Civil War regiment, SC Volunteers, mustered into US army
1846 Corn Laws abolished in Britain
^ 1795 Hamilton resigns as US Treasury Secretary.
      Wounded by the sharp criticism of his colleagues, Alexander Hamilton resigned his post as the Secretary of the Treasury on this day in 1795. During his run as the first US Treasury Secretary, Hamilton put his conservative stamp on the young nation’s finances, establishing a national bank and a tax-based system to fuel the repayment of national and foreign debts. Hamilton also pushed for the Federal government to assume full responsibility for debts incurred by the states during the Revolutionary War. However, Hamilton’s Federalist ardor was a frequent target for controversy, as was his role in meting out the country’s neutrality stance during the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars. Hamilton’s involvement in the latter bit of policy drew particularly heavy fire and helped seal his departure from office. And so, Hamilton putatively retired to lick his wounds and count his vast personal fortune. But, the siren call of politics proved irresistible and Hamilton served a long stint as an unofficial presidential advisor.
1675 Cornelia/Dina Olfaarts found not guilty of witchcraft
1627 Spanish government goes bankrupt
1596 Catholic League disjoins
1531 Kings Ferdinand of Austria/János Zápolyai of Hungary accept each other
1504 By treaty of Lyons, French cede Naples to Ferdinand of Aragon
0993 St. Ulrich, who lived 890-973, and was Bishop of Augsburg from 923, was canonized at a Lateran Synod. With this action by Pope John XV, St. Ulrich became the first individual in Roman Catholic history formally elevated to sainthood.
0876 Charles becomes king of Italy
0314 St Sylvester I begins his reign as Pope
TO THE TOP
^  Deaths which occurred on a 31 January:

2005 Robert McCartney, 33, from injuries received the previous evening when he was beaten by about 20 IRA men and stabbed outside Magennis' pub in Belfast, Northern Ireland. McCartney’s friend Brendan Devine was badly injured. On 04 June 2005 Terence Malachy Davison, 49, is charged with McCartney’s murder and James McCormick, 36, is charged with the attempted murder of Devine.
2005 Norhan Deeb, 10, Palestinian girl, hit in the head by Israeli tank fire at a school administered by the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Rafah refugee camp, in the south of the Gaza Strip, 800 m from the border. The students were lined up in the schoolyard for afternoon assembly. Another schoolgirl, 7, is wounded in the hand.
2005 Three US Marines, killed in combat in Babil province, Iraq.
2005 US Army Spc. Holly J. McGeogh, 19, woman, by a roadside bomb near Kirkuk, Iraq. —(051025)
2004 Kevin Ponce, 6, from burns suffered the previous evening in El Paso, Texas, in a fire which caused the deaths of his father, Gilberto Ponce, his sisters, Valeria Ponce, 2, and Jennifer Ponce, 7, and his cousin Ruben Castillo Ponce, 11. Kevin and his sisters lived across the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, with their mother, but visited the El Paso home on weekends.
2004 Possibly 175 civilians, 700 government soldiers, and uncounted rebels, in West Darfur state in western Sudan, during an ongoing offensive by government forces, both regular army and Janjaweed militia, including bombing with Antonov planes, helicopter gunships, and heavy artillery, in areas held by the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), one of two main rebel groups in the area. According to rebels, four villages are burned and more than 75 civilians killed in government-led attacks in the area of west Jebel Marra, about 200 km east of Geneina, capital of West Darfur; and more than 100 civilians are killed and five villages burned in the Jebel Moon area, northeast of Geneina.
2004 One Iraqi civilian, by terrorist bomb in the Baladiyyat district of Baghdad, Iraq, in the late evening.
2004 Five Iraqi civilians, by terrorist bomb in the Baladiyyat district of Baghdad, Iraq, in the afternoon.
2004 Ten persons including suicide car bomber in front of a two-story police station in Mosul, Iraq. The bomber had driven through a security barricade. 44 persons are injured.
2004 Three US soldiers, by the explosion of a terrorist bomb at the passage of a 4th Infantry Division convoy 40 km southwest of Kirkuk, Iraq.
2004 Mehdi Mohammed Bayatli, assistant of Turkomen leader Hussein Maliand, who is injured, by shots from assailants, in the mainly Turkomen town Taza-hurmatu just outside Kirkuk, Iraq. The minority Turkomen are often in conflict with Kurds in the multiethnic Kirkuk region.
2003 Hazel Luther, in Florida. She was born on 11 December 1889 in Massachusetts.
2003 Iyad Mussa and a Palestinian firefighter, soon after midnight, in Jenin, West Bank. Israeli soldiers from the Egoz unit had surrounded the fire house, and called on wanted Hamas militant Mussa and firefighters to come out with their arms in the air and give themselves up. They did, except Mussa, who came out shooting. The Reuters body count of the al-Aqsa intifada is now “at least” 1810 Palestinians and 698 Israelis.
2003:: 18 persons on a minibus, on the Rambasi Bridge, 10 km south of Kandahar, Afghanistan, at 08:00 (03:30 UT), after anti-tank mine rigged to a mortar shell explodes. The driver, Ahmad Zia, 26, and a boy, Naimatullah, 12, are the only survivors.
2003 Twelve persons including the driver on a four-car train, speeding at 80 km/h in a 50km/h zone, with some 80 aboard which derails at 07:30, 4 km south of Waterfall station on its way from Sydney (30 km to the north) to Port Kembla.
Father Werenfried2003 Philip Johannes Hendrik “Werenfried” (Warrior for Peace) van Straaten “the Bacon Priest” [< 1999 photo], born on 17 January 1913, Dutch Norbertine (= Premonstratensian), founder on 25 December 1947 of Aid to the Church in Need (Kirche in Not / Osterpriesterhilfe). Author of Where God Weeps (1969)
2000 All 83 passenger and 5 crew members aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, which crashes at 16:17 into the Pacific Ocean off Point Mugu, California, after taking off from Puerta Vallarta at 14:30 bound for San Francisco. The plane had experienced stabilizer trim problems and was diverting to Los Angeles when it totally lost control, tumbling, spinning, nose down, continuous roll, corkscrewing, and inverted. [list of victims]
Rigorberta Menchu weeps1996:: 88 persons, in one of the worst attacks in Sri Lanka's civil war, as members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ram and explode a truck packed with explosives into the Central Bank in Colombo. Some 1400 persons are injured.
^ 1995 George Stibitz, inventor of early digital computer.
      George Stibitz developed an early digital calculator just to ease up his workload. In 1940, Stibitz worked on relay-switching equipment for Bell Telephone Laboratories, a job that required him to perform complex mathematical computations very quickly. One night at home after work, Stibitz devised an electronic adding machine, using dry cell batteries, metal strips from a tobacco can, and flashlight bulbs. The adding machine, called the Model I Complex Calculator, was used at Bell for the next nine years. Stibitz performed the first remote computer calculation on the Model I in 1941, contacting the machine in New York City via teletypewriter from Dartmouth. Stibitz later taught physiology at Dartmouth Medical School, where he pioneered computer applications in the biomedical arena.
^ 1980. Vicente Menchu, 27 Indian peasants, and 11 others, burned alive, inside the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City, by the Guatemalan security forces. The peasants had occupied the embassy to protest massacres of Indians by the Guatemalan military during the 36-year civil war. Vicente Menchu's daughter, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Rigoberta Menchu weeps during a forum on justice in Guatemala City, 000128,. marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre.
^ 1974 Samuel Goldwyn, 92, Polish/English/US film magnate (MGM)
      Goldwyn was born Schmuel Gelbfisz in Warsaw, Poland. At age 11, he journeyed alone to England, where he stayed with relatives and worked as a blacksmith's helper. Two years after arriving in England, he emigrated alone and penniless to the United States, where he worked as an apprentice glovemaker for $3 a week and attended night school. He changed his name to Samuel Goldfish, and at age 18 he became a successful glove salesman. In 1910, he married Blanche Lasky, the sister of vaudeville performer and producer Jesse L. Lasky, and when the glove industry took a dive two years later, Goldfish needed a better way to make a living. He entered the film business with his brother-in-law and Cecil B. De Mille. Their first picture, The Squaw Man (1914), was a resounding success, generating enough revenue to fund the making of some 20 more films the same year. In 1916, their company merged with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players, and Goldfish was named chairman of the board. His partners bought him out soon afterward, so Goldfish formed a partnership with Edgar Selwyn. They called the company Goldwyn, a blend of their surnames. In 1918, Goldfish legally changed his surname to Goldwyn. Though the men had successfully recruited famous stars and top writers, their company struggled, and in 1922 Goldwyn was edged out of the corporation, which later merged with Metro Pictures and Louis B. Mayer productions to form MGM. On his own, Goldwyn formed Samuel Goldwyn Productions in 1923 and thrived on his newfound independence. His only collaborator was his second wife, former Broadway actress Frances Howard, who was the mother of his son, independent producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Stars launched under Goldwyn's tutelage included Danny Kaye, Gary Cooper, Will Rogers, and Lucille Ball, and among the writers he employed were Robert Sherwood, Sinclair Lewis, and Ben Hecht. He received the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award during the 1946 Oscars for high quality of production, and won a Best Picture Oscar the same year for The Best Years of Our Lives. He was also known for his philanthropy and seemingly endless series of classic "Goldwynisms," such as "A verbal agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on," and "Anyone seeing a psychiatrist should have his head examined." He died in 1974.
1967 Chief Thundercloud, 100, actor (Ambush, Colt 45, Typhoon)
1960 Auguste Herbin, French painter born on 29 April 1882. — more with link to an image.
Original Pooh and friends^ 1956 Alan Alexander Milne, English author (Winnie-the-Pooh)
      The youngest of three sons, born on 18 January 1882 to schoolteacher parents, Milne taught himself to read at age two. He began writing humorous pieces as a schoolboy and continued to do so at Cambridge, where he edited the undergraduate paper. In 1903, he left Cambridge and went to London to write. Although he was broke by the end of his first year, he persevered and supported himself until 1906 with his writing. That year, he joined humor magazine Punch as an editor and wrote humorous verse and essays for the magazine for eight years, until World War I broke out. While at Punch, he wrote his first book—for adults, not children, The Red House Mystery.
      In 1913, he married his wife, Daphne, and two years later went to France to serve in World War I. While in the military, he wrote three plays, one of which, Mr. Pim Passes By, became a hit in 1919 and provided financial security for the family. In 1920, the couple's only son, Christopher Robin, was born. In 1925, the family bought Cotchford Farm in Sussex. A nearby forest inspired the 100-Acre Wood where Winnie-the-Pooh's adventures would be set.
      Milne published two volumes of the verse he wrote for his son. When We Were Very Young was published in 1924, followed by Now We Are Six in 1927. When Christopher Robin was about a year old, he received a stuffed bear as a present. The child soon accumulated a collection of similar animals [photo: Pooh, Kanga, Piglet, Eeyor, Tigger], which inspired Milne to begin writing a series of whimsical stories about the toys. Winnie-the-Pooh was published in 1926 and The House at Pooh Corner in 1928. Ernest Shepard illustrated the books, using Christopher Robin and his animals as models. A.A. Milne wrote numerous other books and plays but is remembered almost solely for his beloved children's work.
1955 John Raleigh Mott, US Methodist layman and evangelist born on 25 May 1865. He shared the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1946 (with Emily Greene Balch [08 Jan 1867 – 09 Jan 1961]) for his work ininternational church and missionary movements. Mott became student secretary of the International Committee of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), holding this position from 1888 until 1915. He was one of the organizers of the World Missionary Conference (Edinburgh, 1910), which marked the beginning of themodern ecumenical movement and which ultimately resulted in the formation of the World Council of Churches. He was chairman of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (1915–1928) and of the International Missionary Council (1921–42) and president of the World's Alliance of YMCAs (1926–37). Mott wrote extensively, his works including The Future Leadership of the Church (1909) and The Larger Evangelism (1944).
1954 Edwin H Armstrong, 63, US radio inventor (FM), suicide
1953 Nearly 2000 drown as hurricane-like winds flood Netherlands
^ 1945 Eddie Slovik, 25, by firing squad, for being terrified of being shot.
      Pvt. Eddie Slovik becomes the first American soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion—and the only one who suffered such a fate during World War II. Pvt. Eddie Slovik was a draftee. Originally classified 4-F because of a prison record (grand theft auto), he was reclassified 1-A when draft standards were lowered to meet growing personnel needs. In January 1944, he was trained to be a rifleman, which was not to his liking, as he hated guns. In August of the same year, Slovik was shipped to France to fight with the 28th Infantry Division, which had already suffered massive casualties in France and Germany. Slovik was a replacement, a class of soldier not particular respected by officers. As he and a companion were on the way to the front lines, they became lost in the chaos of battle and stumbled upon a Canadian unit that took them in. Slovik stayed on with the Canadians until October 5, when they turned him and his buddy over to the American military police. They were reunited with the 28th Division, which had been moved to Elsenborn, Belgium. No charges were brought, as replacements getting lost early on in their tours of duty were not unusual. But exactly one day after Slovik returned to his unit, he claimed he was "too scared and too nervous" to be a rifleman, and threatened to run away if forced into combat. His confession was ignored—and Slovik took off. One day later he returned and signed a confession of desertion, claiming he would run away again if forced to fight, and submitted it to an officer of the 28th. The officer advised Slovik to take the confession back, as the consequences were serious. Slovik refused and was confined to the stockade. The 28th Division had many cases of soldiers wounding themselves or deserting in the hopes of a prison sentence that might protect them from the perils of combat. A legal officer of the 28th offered Slovik a deal: dive into combat immediately and avoid the court-martial. Slovik refused. He was tried on November 11 for desertion and was convicted in less than two hours. The nine-officer court-martial panel passed a unanimous sentence of execution, "to be shot to death with musketry." Slovik's appeal failed. It was held that he "directly challenged the authority" of the United States and that "future discipline depends upon a resolute reply to this challenge." Slovik had to pay for his recalcitrant attitude, and the military made an example of him. One last appeal was made—to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander—but the timing was bad for mercy. The Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes forest was resulting in literally thousands of American casualties, not to mention the second largest surrender of an US Army unit during the war. Eisenhower upheld the death sentence. Slovik was shot and killed by a 12-man firing squad in eastern France. None of the rifleman even flinched, firmly believing Slovik had gotten what he deserved.
^ 1940 Day 63 of Winter War: USSR aggression against Finland.
More deaths due to Stalin's desire to grab Finnish territory.

Enemy attacks ship carrying children to Sweden
      Northern Finland: the Finnish defences repulse a massive Soviet offensive at Saija in the Kuhmo sector.
      Lake Ladoga: the enemy carries out a number of assaults on islands in the lake.
      Northern Finland: Finnish troops defeat a Russian ski battalion at Silmälampi and Löytövaara. The enemy loses 160 men and a large amount of automatic weapons.
      The township of Rovaniemi suffers five dead in heavy bombing. The enemy is increasingly selecting civilian targets.
      Prime Minister Ryti sends Finland's response to continuing contacts with the Soviet Union to Chargé d'Affaires Erkko in Stockholm.
      A ship carrying children to Sweden is attacked by Soviet submarines.
      Another staffed field ambulance leaves Stockholm for Finland.
      Southern Ostrobothnia: the closing ceremonies for the 1939 session of Parliament begin in Kauhajoki with a church service at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The ceremonies end with the evacuee Parliament giving three cheers for Finland's freedom.
      Official figures suggest the enemy has conducted 643 air raids over Finland since the outbreak of the war, dropping over 20'000 bombs on a total of 207 different localities.
      Abroad: the Finnish pavilion at the New York World's Fair is also to be kept open for the 1940 exhibition.
      South African wine growers gift Finland 14'000 liters of wine and 7000 liters of brandy.

^ Lapsia Ruotsiin kuljettava laiva joutuu hyökkäyksen kohteeksi Talvisodan 63. päivä, 31.tammikuuta.1940
       Neuvostoarmeijan massiiviset hyökkäykset torjutaan Kuhmon suunnalla Saijassa.
      Vihollinen tekee lukuisia hyökkäyksiä Laatokan saaria vastaan.
      Kuhmossa suomalaiset lyövät venäläisen hiihtopataljoonan Silmälammella ja Löytövaarassa. Vihollinen menettää 160 miestä kaatuneina sekä runsaastiautomaattiaseita.
      Vihollinen pommittaa ankarasti Rovaniemen kaupalaa. Viisi henkilöä saa surmansa.
      Yhä useammin pommitusten kohteena ovat siviilikohteet.
      Päämisteri Ryti toimittaa ministeri Erkolle Tukholmaan vastauksen Neuvostoliiton kanssa tapahtuvasta jatkokosketuksesta.
      Lapsia Ruotsiin kuljettava laiva joutuu neuvostoliittolaisten sukellusveneiden hyökkäyksen kohteeksi.
      Tukholmasta lähtee toinen Suomeen tarkoitettu ambulanssi ja sen henkilökunta. Vuoden 1939 valtiopäivien päätösjuhlallisuudet alkavat klo 16 jumalanpalveluksella Kauhajoella. Evakossa oleva eduskunta kohottaa valtiopäivien päätöstilaisuuden päätteeksi kolminkertaisen eläköön-huudon Suomen vapaudelle.
      Viranomaisten kokoamien tietojen mukaan vihollinen on tehnyt sodanalettua tähän päivään mennessä jo 643 ilmahyökkäystä Suomeen ja pudottanut yli 20 000 pommia kaikkiaan 207 paikkakunnalle.
      Ulkomailta: Suomen paviljonki New Yorkin maailmannäyttelyssä päätetään pitää auki myös vuoden 1940 näyttelyssä.
      Etelä-Afrikan viininviljelijät lahjoittavat Suomelle 14 000 litraa viiniä ja 7000 litraa konjakkia.

^ Attack mot fartyg som transporterar barn till Sverige Vinterkrigets 63 dag, den 31 januari 1940
     .Sovjetarméns massiva offensiv avvärjs i Saija i riktning Kuhmo.
      Fienden anfaller upprepade gånger öarna i Ladoga.
      I Kuhmo slår finnarna en rysk skidlöparbataljon vid Silmälampi och Löytövaara. Fienden förlorar 160 man och rikliga mängder automatvapen.
      Fienden bombar häftigt Rovaniemi köping. Fem personer omkommer.
      Bomberna riktas allt oftare mot civila mål. Statsminister Ryti sänder minister Erkko i Stockholm svar på de fortsatta fredsförhandlingarna med Sovjetunionen.
      Ett fartyg som transporterar barn till Sverige attackeras av ryska ubåtar.
      Den andra ambulansen med personal avreser från Stockholm till Finland.
      Avslutningsfestligheterna för årets 1939 riksdag inleds kl. 16 med gudstjänst i Kauhajoki. Den evakuerade riksdagen utbringar vid slutet av evenemanget ett trefaldigt leve för Finlands frihet.
      Enligt uppgifter sammanställda av myndigheterna har fienden sedan krigets början fram till idag utfört inte mindre än 643 luftangrepp mot Finland och fällt över 20 000 bomber på inalles 207 orter.
      Utrikes: Man fattar beslut om att hålla Finlands paviljong på världsutställningen i New York öppen också vid utställningen år 1940.
      Vinodlarna i Sydafrika donerar 14 000 liter vin och 7000 liter konjak åt Finland.
^ 1933 - John Galsworthy, 65, (Nobel Prize-winning author [1932]; The Forsyte Saga)
GALSWORTHY ONLINE:
  • Awakening and To Let
  • Beyond
  • The Country House
  • The Dark Flower
  • Five Tales
  • Fraternity
  • The Freeland
  • Indian Summer of a Forsyte
  • The Island Pharisees
  • The Man of Property
  • The Patrician
  • Saint's Progress
  • Villa Rubein, and Other Stories
  • 1896 Janovskaja, mathematician.
    1891 Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, French Academic painter specialized in historical scenes, sculptor, and illustrator, born on 21 February 1815. MORE ON MEISSONIER AT ART “4” JANUARY with links to images.
    1888 Giovanni Melchior “Don” Bosco, priest, founder of the Salesian Society.
    1886 Watson, mathematician. — {When he asked what kind of mathematics he should study for his thesis, did his faculty advisor reply: “Elementary, my dear Watson.”?}
    1854 Silvio Pellico, Italian author and patriot born on 24 June 1788. — (060111)
    1841 Loyd, mathematician.
    1788 [Bonnie Prince] Charles E Stuart, 67, English pretender.
    1715 Giovanni Fagnano, mathematician.
    1635 Willem Corneliszoon Duyster, Dutch painter of genre scenes and portraits born in 1599. MORE ON DUYSTER AT ART “4” JANUARY with links to images.
    1632 Joolt Bürgi, Swiss clockmaker, maker of scientific instruments, mathematician, born on 28 February 1552. He discovered logarithms independently of Napier [1550 – 04 Apr 1617].
    ^ 1606 Guy Fawkes, 35, about to be hanged for the "Gunpowder Plot", jumps to his death.
         At Westminster in London, Guy Fawkes, a chief conspirator in the plot to blow up the British Parliament building, jumps to his death moments before his execution for treason. On the eve of a general parliamentary session scheduled for 05 November 1605, Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, found Guy Fawkes lurking in a cellar of the Parliament building, and ordered the premises thoroughly searched. Nearly two tons of gunpowder were found hidden within the cellar. The authorities determine that the suspect was a participant in an English Catholic conspiracy, largely organized by Robert Catesby, to annihilate England’s entire Protestant government including King James I, who was to have attended the parliamentary session on 05 November.
          Over the next few months, English authorities killed or captured all of the conspirators in the "Gunpowder Plot," and also arrested, tortured, or killed dozens of innocent English Catholics. After a brief trial, Guy Fawkes was sentenced, along with the other surviving chief conspirators, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in London. On 30 January 1606, the gruesome public executions began in London, and on 31 January, Fawkes was called to meet his fate. However, while climbing to the hanging platform, Fawkes jumped from the ladder and broke his neck, dying instantly. In remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated across Great Britain every year on the fifth of November. As dusk falls in the evening, villagers and city dwellers across Britain light bonfires, set off fireworks, and burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, celebrating his failure to blow Parliament and James I to kingdom come.

     
    ^  Births which occurred on a 31 January:

    1955 First music synthesizer is demonstrated by RCA.
    1948 Magnetic tape recorder developed by Wireway
    1941 Richard A Gephardt (Representative-D-MO, 1977- )
    1938 Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard queen of Netherlands (1980- )
    1937 Philip Glass Baltimore MD, composer (Einstein on the Beach)
    1934 Sommerville, mathematician.
    1928 Scotch tape first marketed by 3-M Company
    1923 Norman Mailer New Jersey, New York City NY mayoral candidate/novelist (Naked and the Dead) (Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist: The Armies of the Night; Miami and the Siege of Chicago, The Executioner's Song, The Naked and the Dead, An American Dream)
    1920 Stewart L Udall St Johns AZ, US Secretary of Interior (1961-69)
    1919 Jackie Robinson Georgia, first black major league baseball player (Dodgers)
    1915 Thomas Merton France, Trappist monk/poet/essayist (7 Storey Mt)
    1902 Alva Myrdal Uppsala Sweden, diplomat (Nobel Peace Prize-1982)
    1881 Irving Langmuir physical chemist/colloid researcher/inventor (tungsten filament lamp/Nobel 1932)
    1881 Max Hermann Pechstein, German Expressionist painter and printmaker who died on 25 (19?) June 1955. — more with links to images.
    1878 Pio Semeghini, Italian painter who died on 11 March 1964. — more with links to images.
    1876 Josef Anton von Gegenbaur, German painter born on 06 March 1800. — more with link to an image.
    ^ 1872 Pearl “Zane” Grey, author of Riders of the Purple Sage, in Zanesville, Ohio.
          The son of a successful dentist, Grey enjoyed a happy and solid upper-middle-class childhood, marred only by occasional fistfights with boys who teased him about his unusual first name, Pearl. (Grey later replaced it with his mother's maiden name, Zane.) A talented baseball player as teen, Grey caught the eye of a scout for the University of Pennsylvania college team, who convinced him to study there. In 1886, he graduated with a degree in dentistry and moved to New York to begin his practice. Grey's interest in dentistry was half-hearted at best, and he did not relish the idea of replicating his father's safe but unexciting career path.
          Searching for an alternative, Grey decided to try his hand at writing; his first attempt was an uninspiring historical novel about a family ancestress, Betty Zane. At that point, Grey might well have been doomed to a life of dentistry, had he not met Colonel C. J. "Buffalo" Jones in 1908, who convinced Grey to write Jones' biography. More importantly, Jones took him out West to gather material for the book, and Grey became deeply fascinated with the people and landscape of the region. Grey's biography of Jones debuted in 1908 as The Last of the Plainsmen to little attention, but he was inspired to concentrate his efforts on writing historical romances of the West.
          In 1912, he published the novel that earned him lasting fame, Riders of the Purple Sage. Like the equally popular Owen Wister novel, The Virginian, a Horseman of the PlainsThe Virginian, a Horseman of the Plains (1902), the basic theme of Riders revolves around the transformation of a weak and effeminate easterner into a man of character and strength through his exposure to the culture and land of the American West. Grey's protagonist, the Ohio-born Bern Venters, spends several weeks being tested by the rugged canyon country of southern Utah before finding his way back to civilization. Venters, Grey writes, "had gone away a boy-he had returned a man." Though Riders of the Purple Sage was Grey's most popular novel, he wrote 78 other books during his prolific career, most of them Westerns.
          He died in 1939, but Grey's work continued to be extraordinarily popular for decades to come, and by 1955, his books had sold more than 31 millions copies around the world. With the possible exception of Riders, today Grey's books are little read, and most modern readers find them insufferably pompous, moralizing, and sentimental. Nonetheless, Grey played a pivotal role in creating the Western genre that, in the hands of more recent authors like Louis L'Amour (1908-1988), continues to charm many dedicated fans. [Reviews of Desert Gold — The Light of Western Stars — Sunset Pass — The U.P. Trail]
    GREY ONLINE:
  • Betty Zane
  • The Call of the Canyon
  • The Heritage of the Desert
  • The Last of the Plainsmen
  • The Light of Western Stars
  • Desert Gold: A Romance of the Border
  • The Lone Star Ranger
  • The Man of the Forest
  • The Mysterious Rider
  • The Redheaded Outfield and Other Baseball Stories
  • The Redheaded Outfield and Other Baseball Stories
  • Riders of the Purple Sage
  • Riders of the Purple Sage
  • The Spirit of the Border
  • To the Last Man
  • Wildfire
  • The Young Forester
  • 1851 Evaporated milk's invention is announced by Gail Borden.
    1824 Willem Vester, Dutch artist who died in July 1871. — links to images.
    1797 Franz Peter Schubert Lichtenthal Austria, composer (Unfinished Symphony)
    1735 T. Kettle, British painter, active in India, who died in July 1786. — more with links to images.
    1573 Giulio Cesare Monteverdi composer
     
    Holidays: Lerwick, Shetland Islands : Up-Helly-Aa/Norse fire festival / Surrey England : Dicing for Maid's Money Day / Australia : Australia Day (1788 - 1993)
    Sainte Marcelle est une veuve romaine qui se voua à la charité sous la direction de saint Jérôme (IVe siècle).
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    Thoughts for the day:
    “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” — Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel, US theologian, author and educator [1907-1990]
    “Men are like steel. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth.” — Chuck Norris
    “Men who like to steal are not worth others losing their temper.”
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    updated Thursday 31-Jan-2008 14:09 UT
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