On This Day in History, July 31

In 781, the earliest and oldest recorded eruption of Mount Fuji in Japan. The second tallest volcano in Asia and the seventh highest peak on the planet, Fuji has had a notable impact upon the Japanese people. While Japan presently uses the Gregorian Calendar of Europe, their traditional means of tracking time places the eruption as being on the sixth day of the seventh month of the first year of the Ten’o era.

In 1588, the Spanish Armada was first spotted from the English coast. Part of the undeclared Anglo-Spanish War, the fleet of over one hundred vessels were sent by the Spanish to overthrow Elizabeth I and end the Anglican Church, a Protestant branch formed by her father, Henry VIII. English ships harassed the larger armada, which headed for the Netherlands to resupply with soldiers for an invasion. The Armada would eventually be brought down and mostly destroyed.

In 1874, Dr. Patrick Francis Healy became the first person of African descent to become the President of a predominantly white university—Georgetown University. While he identified as being Irish during his lifetime, genetic research done during the mid 20th Century determined he had African heritage, which came from his mother—one of her parents apparently fled Haiti for the US in the 1790s.

A Notable Birth

1923 – Ahmet Ertegun (d. 2006) was a Turkish-American musician and businessman. He came to the US when his father was made an ambassador and shortly after began delving into the jazz and blues scenes. With Herb Abramson, he went on to found Atlantic Records, a major music label.

A Notable Death

1875 – Andrew Johnson (b. 1808) was an American politician who became President following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Born in poverty, he apprenticed as a tailor and worked his way up the political ladder in Tennessee. He owned slaves during his lifetime, and was acquitted after being impeached for abuses of presidential power.

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