- 314 – Silvester I begins his reign as Pope of the Catholic Church, succeeding Pope Miltiades.
- 1504 – France cedes Naples to Aragon.
- 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is executed for his plotting against Parliament and James I of England.
- 1747 – The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.
- 1814 – Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.
- 1846 – After the Milwaukee Bridge War, Juneautown and Kilbourntown unify as the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- 1848 – John C. Frémont is court-martialed for mutiny and disobeying orders.
- 1849 – Corn Laws are abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).
- 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 United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery, submitting it to the states for ratification.
- 1865 – American Civil War: Confederate General Robert E. Lee becomes general-in-chief.
- 1867 – Maronite nationalist leader Youssef Karam leaves Lebanon on board a French ship bound for Algeria
- 1891 – The first attempt at a Portuguese republican revolution breaks out in the northern city of Porto.
- 1900 – Datu Muhammad Salleh is assassinated in Kampung Teboh, Tambunan, ending the Mat Salleh Rebellion
- 1915 – World War I: Germany is the first to make large-scale use of poison gas in warfare in the Battle of Bolimów against Russia.
- 1917 – World War I: Germany announces that its U-boats will resume unrestricted submarine warfare after a two-year hiatus.
- 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.
- 1919 – The Battle of George Square takes place in Glasgow, Scotland.
- 1929 – The Soviet Union exiles Leon Trotsky.
- 1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch Tape.
- 1942 – World War II: Allied forces are defeated by the Japanese at the Battle of Malaya and retreat to the island of Singapore.
- 1943 – German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrenders to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II's fiercest battles.
- 1944 – World War II: American forces land on Kwajalein Atoll and other islands in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.
- 1944 – World War II: During Anzio campaign 1st Ranger Battalion (Darby's Rangers) is destroyed behind enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Battle of Cisterna, Italy.
- 1945 – US Army private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War.
- 1945 – World War II: About 3,000 inmates from the Stutthof concentration camp are forcibly marched into the Baltic Sea at Palmnicken (now Yantarny, Russia) and executed.
- 1946 – Yugoslavia's new constitution, modeling the Soviet Union, establishes six constituent republics (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).
- 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
- 1957 – Eight people on the ground in Pacoima, California are killed following the mid-air collision between a Douglas DC-7 airliner and a Northrop F-89 Scorpion fighter jet.
- 1958 – Explorer program: Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.
- 1958 – James Van Allen discovers the Van Allen radiation belt.
- 1961 – Project Mercury: Mercury-Redstone 2 – Ham the Chimp travels into outer space.
- 1966 – The Soviet Union launches the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna program.
- 1968 – Viet Cong attack the United States embassy in Saigon, and other attacks, in the early morning hours, later grouped together as the Tet Offensive.
- 1968 – Nauru gains independence from Australia.
- 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.
- 1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicize war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, begin in Detroit, Michigan.
- 1977 – The Centre Georges Pompidou is officially opened by French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
- 1990 – The first McDonald's in the Soviet Union opens in Moscow.
- 1995 – President Bill Clinton authorizes a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.
- 1996 – An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.
- 1996 – Comet Hyakutake is discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake.
- 2000 – Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash: An MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 aboard.
- 2001 – In the Netherlands, a Scottish court convicts Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and acquits another Libyan citizen for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
- 2003 – The Waterfall rail accident occurs near Waterfall, New South Wales, Australia.
- 2007 – Suspects are arrested in Birmingham in the UK, accused of plotting the kidnap, holding and eventual beheading of a serving Muslim British soldier in Iraq.
- 2009 – In Kenya, at least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, days after a massive fire at a Nakumatt supermarket in Nairobi killed at least 25 people.
- 2010 – Avatar became the first film to gross over $2 billion worldwide.
- 2011 – A winter storm hit North America for the second time in the same month, causing $1.8 billion in damages across the United States and Canada and killing 24 people.
Read more about this topic: January 31
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Famous quotes containing the word events:
“The phenomenon of nature is more splendid than the daily events of nature, certainly, so then the twentieth century is splendid.”
—Gertrude Stein (18741946)
“Most events recorded in history are more remarkable than important, like eclipses of the sun and moon, by which all are attracted, but whose effects no one takes the trouble to calculate.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“There are no little events in life, those we think of no consequence may be full of fate, and it is at our own risk if we neglect the acquaintances and opportunities that seem to be casually offered, and of small importance.”
—Amelia E. Barr (18311919)