On August 31:
12 Gaius Caligula, Roman Emperor, was born (d. 41).
1218 Al-Kamil became Sultan of Egypt, Syria and northern Mesopotamia on the death of his father Al-Adil.
1422 Henry VI became King of England at the age of 9 months.
1803 Lewis and Clark started their expedition to the west.
1870 Maria Montessori, Italian educator, was born (d. 1952).
1880 Wilhelmina I of the Netherlands, was born (d. 1962).
1886 An earthquake killed 100 in Charleston, South Carolina.
1888 Mary Ann Nichols was murdered, the first of Jack the Ripper’s known victims.
1894 The new Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration (IC&A) Act, a flagship policy of Richard Seddon’s Liberal government, made New Zealand the first country in the world to outlaw strikes in favour of compulsory arbitration. There were no major strikes for 11 years and wages and conditions generally improved.
1894 Albert Facey, Australian writer, was born (d. 1982).
1918 Alan Jay Lerner, American lyricist, was born (d. 1986).
1920 Polish-Bolshevik War: A decisive Polish victory in the Battle of Komarów.
1940 Pennsylvania Central Airlines Trip 19 crashed near Lovettsville, Virginia. The CAB investigation of the accident was the first investigation to be conducted under the Bureau of Air Commerce act of 1938.
1940 Jack Thompson, Australian actor, was born.
1943 The USS Harmon, the first U.S. Navy ship to be named after a black person, was commissioned.
1945 The Liberal Party of Australia was founded by Robert Menzies.
1945 Van Morrison, Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician, was born.
1949 The retreat of the Greek Democratic Army in Albania after its defeat in mountain Grammos marked the end of the Greek Civil War.
1949 Richard Gere, American actor, was born.
1957 The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained its independence from the United Kingdom.
1958 A parcel bomb sent by Ngo Dinh Nhu, younger brother and chief adviser of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, failed to kill Sihanouk of Cambodia.
1958 Serge Blanco, French rugby union footballer, was born.
1962 Trinidad and Tobago became independent.
1965 Willie Watson, New Zealand cricketer, was born.
1965 The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy aircraft made its first flight.
1974 Leader of the Labour Party since 1965 and Prime Minister from late 1972, Norman Kirk, ‘Big Norm’, died suddenly at the age of 51. He was the fifth New Zealand PM to die in office.
1978 William and Emily Harris, founders of the Symbionese Liberation Army, pleaded guilty to the 1974 kidnapping of
1986 Aeroméxico Flight 498 collided with a Piper PA-28 over Cerritos, California, killing 67 in the air and 15 on the ground.
1986 The Soviet passenger liner Admiral Nakhimov sank in the Black Sea after colliding with the bulk carrier Pyotr Vasev, killing 423.
1991 Kyrgyzstan declared its independence from the Soviet Union.
1992 Pascal Lissouba was inaugurated as the President of the Republic of the Congo .
1993 HMS Mercury, shore establishment of the Royal Navy, closed after 52 years in commission.
1994 The Provisional Irish Republican Army declared a ceasefire.
1997 Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Al-Fayed and driver Henri Paul died in a car crash in Paris.
1998 North Korea reportedly launches Kwangmyongsong, its first satellite.
1999 The first of a series of bombings in Moscow, killing one person and wounding 40 others.
1999 – A LAPA Boeing 737-200 crashed during takeoff from Jorge Newbury Airport in Buenos Aires, killing 65, including 2 on the ground.
2005 A stampede on Al-Aaimmah bridge in Baghdad killed 1,199 people.
2006 Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, which was stolen on August 22, 2004, was recovered in a raid by Norwegian police.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia