1862: The white dwarf star Sirius B is discovered by Alvan Graham Clark.
1865: The amendment that abolishes slavery in the U.S – the 13th Amendment – is passed by the U.S Congress. It then heads to the states for ratification.
1865: Confederate General Robert E. Lee is made general-in-chief for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
1915: Germany uses poison gas at the Battle of Bolimow during World War I.
1930: 3M starts marketing its newly developed product, Scotch Tape, to the general public.
1942: Japanese forces defeat Allied forces at the Battle of Malaya. Allied troops are forced to retreat to the island of Singapore.
1943: German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus finally surrenders to Soviet forces at Stalingrad. Two days later, the rest of the 6th Army would follow suit. This ends one of the most savage battles during WWII.
1944: Japanese forces land on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands during World War II.
1945: The first American soldier to be formally court-marshaled and executed for desertion since the American Civil War, United States Private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion on this day.
1945: Over three thousand prisons of the Stutthof Concentration Camp are marched towards the Baltic Sea and executed.
1958: The Van Allen Radiation Belt is detected for the first time by an American satellite.
1961: Ham the Chimps travels into space aboard the MR-2.
1966: The Luna 9 spacecraft is launched by the Soviet Union.
1971: Apollo 14 lifts off for its mission to the Moon.
Famous Birthdays on January 31
Austrian pianist and composer, Franz Schubert is born in 1797.
American chemist and Nobel Prize laureate, Theodore William Richards is born in 1868.
American author Zane Grey is born in 1872.
American chemist and Nobel Prize laureate, Irving Langmuir is born in 1881.
American journalist and author, Norman Mailer is born in 1923.
German physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, Rudolf Mossbauer is born in 1929.
American singer-songwriter and actor, Justin Timberlake is born in 1981.