Today in History January 31

1504 – The Treaty of Lyon ends the Italian War, confirming French domination of northern Italy, while Spain receives the Kingdom of Naples.
1606 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is executed for plotting against Parliament and King James.
1862 – Alvan Graham Clark discovers the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an 18.5-inch (47 cm) telescope now located at Northwestern University.
1865 – American Civil War: The US Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and submits it to the states for ratification.
1918 – A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night leads to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.
1929 – The Soviet Union exiles Leon Trotsky.
1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch Tape. What would we do without it?
1945 – US Army private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War.
1950 – President Harry S. Truman announces a program to develop the hydrogen bomb.
1953 – A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands and over 300 in the United Kingdom
1958 – The first successful American satellite detects the Van Allen radiation belt.
1961 – Project Mercury: Mercury-Redstone 2: Ham the Chimp travels into outer space.
 
HAM America’s first Space Hero
Click here to watch his adventure
Ham, was the first non-human hominid launched into space, as part of America’s space program.
He was born in 1957 in French Cameroons, captured by animal trappers and sent to Florida where he was purchased by the United States Air Force and brought to Holloman Air Force Base in 1959.
There were originally 40 chimpanzee flight candidates and after evaluation, the number of candidates was reduced to 18, then to 6, including Ham.
 Officially, Ham was known as No. 65 before his flight, and only renamed “Ham” upon his successful return to Earth. This was because officials did not want the bad press that would come from the death of a “named” chimpanzee if the mission were a failure.
On January 31, 1961, Ham was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a suborbital flight. Ham had his vital signs and tasks monitored using computers on Earth. The capsule suffered a partial loss of pressure during the flight, but Ham’s space suit prevented him from suffering any harm. Ham’s lever-pushing performance in space was only a fraction of a second slower than on Earth, demonstrating that tasks could be performed in space. Ham’s capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean and was recovered by a rescue ship later that day.His only physical injury was a bruised nose. His flight was 16 minutes and 39 seconds long.
After the flight, Ham lived for 17 years in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., before joining a small group of captive chimps at North Carolina Zoo. In 1983, Ham the chimpanzee, died at the age of 26 at the North Carolina Zoological Park, where he had lived for two and a half years, zoo officials said. ( edited from wikipedia )
1966 – The Soviet Union launches the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna program.
1968 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong guerrillas attack the United States embassy in Saigon, and other attacks, in the early morning hours, later grouped together as the Tet Offensive.
1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 14: Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lift off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.
2012 – The Toyota Corolla is known as the best-selling car of all time. Selling over 37.5 million units.
Births
1543 – Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japanese shogun (d. 1616)
1769 – André-Jacques Garnerin, French balloonist and the inventor of the frameless parachute (d. 1823)
1797 – Franz Schubert, Austrian pianist and composer (d. 1828)
1905 – John O’Hara, American author, playwright, and screenwriter (d. 1970)
1923 – Norman Mailer, American journalist and author (d. 2007)
1925 – Benjamin Hooks, American minister, lawyer, and activist (d. 2010)
1937 – Philip Glass, American composer
Deaths
1632 – Jost Bürgi, Swiss clockmaker and mathematician (b. 1552)
1856 – 11th Dalai Lama (b. 1838)
1956 – A. A. Milne, author, poet, and playwright, created Winnie-the-Pooh
This list is compiled from many internet and other sources of information including wikipedia, the New York Times, a multitude of websites and old books.

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