July 31st

2011
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders announced a historic agreement on emergency legislation to avert the nation's first-ever financial default.
Budget Control Act of 2011
2008
Scientists reported the Phoenix spacecraft had confirmed the presence of frozen water in Martian soil.
Climate of Mars
2007
Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and longest-running British Army operation ever, comes to an end.
Operation Banner
1998
The British government bans landmines. The move came after the public pressurized the parliament to pass the Landmines Act.
1998 in the United Kingdom
1995
Walt Disney Co. agreed to acquire Capital Cities-ABC Inc. in a $19 billion deal.
American Broadcasting Company
1992
Thai Airways International Flight 311 crashes while approaching Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. All 113 people onboard were killed in the crash.
Tribhuvan International Airport
1991
US and USSR sign Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The treaty, also known as START I, limited the number of nuclear weapons and missiles the signatories could deploy. It came into force in December 1994, and expired 15 years later in 2009.
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
1990
Nolan Ryan became the 20th major league pitcher to win 300 games as his Texas Rangers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 11-3.
Nolan Ryan
1981
First female president of the US National Bar Association is appointed. Arnette R. Hubbard became the first woman to preside over the US National Bar Association, the country's largest group of association of African-American lawyers and judges.
Timeline of women lawyers in the United States
1977
The "Son of Sam" killer claimed his last victims when he shot and killed Stacy Moskowitz, 20, and seriously wounded her date as they sat in a parked car in Brooklyn, N.Y. (David Berkowitz was arrested less than two weeks later. He is serving six sentences of 25 years to life.).
1972
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton withdrew from the ticket with George McGovern following disclosures that Eagleton had once undergone psychiatric treatment.
Thomas Eagleton
1964
The U.S. space probe Ranger 7 transmitted pictures of the Moon’s surface.
Ranger 7
1961
Israel welcomes its 1,000,000th immigrant.
Expo 67
1954
Mount Godwin-Austen (K2), the world's second-highest peak, was climbed for the first time, by an Italian team led by Ardito Desio.
K2
1937
Politburo enables Operative Order 00447: execute 193,000 Russians.
NKVD Order No. 00447
1919
Germany's Weimar Constitution was adopted.
Weimar Constitution
1917
Third Battle of Ypres begins. Also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, the battle was part of World War I and took place between July 31 and November 6 for control of the Belgian city of Ypres.
Third Battle of Ypres
1914
The New York Stock Exchange closed due to the outbreak of World War I. (Trading didn't resume until December.).
Gold standard
1875
Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States, died in Carter Station, Tenn., at age 66.
Greeneville, Tennessee
1790
The first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for a process of making fertilizer.
Samuel Hopkins (inventor)
1777
The Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman, was made a major-general in the American Continental Army.
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
1620
Pilgrim Fathers depart Leiden for England before heading to America.
Pilgrim Fathers
1498
Columbus arrived at the island of Trinidad.
History of Trinidad and Tobago