By The Associated Press
Today in History
Today is Wednesday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2018. There are 334 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Jan. 31, 1958, the United States entered the Space Age with its first successful launch of a satellite, Explorer 1, from Cape Canaveral.
On this date:
In 1606, Englishman Guy Fawkes, convicted of high treason for his part in the “Gunpowder Plot,” was set to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but broke his neck after falling or jumping from the scaffold.
In 1797, composer Franz Schubert was born in Vienna.
In 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery, sending it to states for ratification. (The amendment was adopted in December 1865.) Gen. Robert E. Lee was named general-in-chief of the Confederate States Army by President Jefferson Davis.
In 1917, during World War I, Germany served notice that it was beginning a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.
In 1929, revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his family were expelled from the Soviet Union.
In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Gold Reserve Act.
In 1945, Pvt. Eddie Slovik, 24, became the first U.S. soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion as he was shot by an American firing squad in France.
In 1961, NASA launched Ham the Chimp aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral; Ham was recovered safely from the Atlantic Ocean following his 16 1/2-minute suborbital flight.
In 1971, astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.
In 1980, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands announced she would abdicate on her birthday the following April, to be succeeded by her daughter, Princess Beatrix.
In 1990, McDonald’s Corp. opened its first fast-food restaurant in Moscow.
In 2000, an Alaska Airlines MD-83 jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Port Hueneme (wy-NEE’-mee), California, killing all 88 people aboard.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, speaking at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, said he would not jeopardize security gains in Iraq by withdrawing U.S. forces too quickly. Pop star Britney Spears was taken from her home by ambulance to UCLA Medical Center, where she was held for a week for psychiatric evaluation.
Five years ago: Chuck Hagel emerged from his grueling confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee with solid Democratic support for his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s next defense secretary.