This Day in History - October 31
Jamaica becomes the first British colony to establish a post office. It is located in the capital, St Jago De La Vega, or Spanish Town as it is now known. The capital was later transferred to Kingston.

Today is the 304th day of 2022. There are 61 days left in the year.


1671: Jamaica becomes the first British colony to establish a post office. It is located in the capital, St Jago De La Vega, or Spanish Town as it is now known. The capital was later transferred to Kingston.


1517: Martin Luther sends his 95 theses denouncing what he saw as the abuses of the Catholic Church, especially the sale of indulgences, to the Archbishop of Mainz, Germany (by some accounts, Luther also posted the theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg), marking the start of the Protestant Reformation.

1731: Expulsion of Protestants from Salzburg, Austria, begins.

1864: Nevada becomes the 36th state as President Abraham Lincoln signs a proclamation.

1922: Fascist leader Benito Mussolini becomes prime minister of Italy.

1926: Magician Harry Houdini dies in Detroit of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix.

1941: The Navy destroyer USS Reuben James was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Iceland with the loss of some 100 lives, even though the United States had not yet entered World War II. Work is completed on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, begun in 1927.

1956: Navy Rear Admiral George J Dufek and six others become the first air travellers to set foot at the South Pole.

1961: Cloud of radioactive debris moves across central Siberia after Soviets explode what is called biggest man-made nuclear bomb.

1968: US President Lyndon B Johnson orders a halt to all US bombing of North Vietnam, saying he hopes for fruitful peace negotiations.

1979: A concrete and earthen reservoir dam collapses near Indiantown, Florida, sending four-metre-high (12-foot) floodwaters over 32 kilometres (20 miles) stranding 1,700 people.

1984: India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in reprisal for the Indian army attack on a Sikh shrine four months earlier. Two-thousand people are killed in anti-Sikh riots after the murder.

1990: In an unprecedented action, the Canadian Government instructs Canadian subsidiaries of US companies not to comply with a new US law designed to prohibit them from trading with Cuba.

1991: Zambia holds its first multiparty elections, with Frederick Chiluba winning over independence leader and first president Kenneth Kaunda.

1992: Pope John Paul II formally proclaims that the Roman Catholic Church had erred in condemning the astronomer Galileo for holding that the Earth was not the centre of the universe.

1993: Pledging not to resort to force, the Russian Government instead blasts high-decibel rock and rap music at defiant hardliners barricaded inside parliament during a constitutional crisis.

1994: Bosnian Government forces hand Serbs their worst defeat in 2 1/2 years of war, pushing ahead to threaten a supply route south of Sarajevo. A Chicago-bound American Eagle ATR-72 crashes in northern Indiana, killing all 68 people aboard.

1996: A Brazilian jetliner crashes into a residential neighbourhood in Sao Paulo shortly after take-off, killing all 96 people on board and five on the ground.

1997: The Parliament in Russia approves an international treaty banning chemical weapons. Russia has the world's largest arsenal of poison gas.

1999: EgyptAir Flight 990 bound for Cairo from New York's Kennedy Airport plunges 10,000 metres (32,800 feet) into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 217 people on-board.

2000: A Russian rocket carrying the first residents of the international space station blasts off from Kazakhstan.

2001: A New York hospital worker with a mysterious case of inhalation anthrax dies, the United States' fourth fatality in a month of bioterrorism.

2002: An earthquake strikes the village of San Giuliano di Puglia in the Apennine mountains 225 kilometres (140 miles) southeast of Rome, killing 26 children and one teacher in an elementary school that collapsed.

2003: Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigns after 22 years as Malaysia's leader. His hand-picked successor, Abdullah Badawi, is sworn in that day in a ceremony at the royal palace in Kuala Lumpur.

2004: Caravans carrying activists travelling from as far as Canada arrive in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to demand authorities find the culprits behind a string of unsolved killings committed against women since 1993 in this rough border city.

2005: President Vladimir Putin says that he will not seek a third term in 2008, but vows not to allow "destabilisation" in Russia following the vote, leaving the door open for drastic action in the event of a crisis.

2006: British lawmakers narrowly reject a proposal for an immediate inquiry into the role of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government in the Iraq conflict.

2007: Gold trades above US$800 an ounce for the first time since 1980.

2008: US President George W Bush signs an executive order restoring the Libyan Government's immunity from terror-related lawsuits and dismissing pending compensation cases.

2009: President Hamid Karzai's challenger plans to call for a boycott of next weekend's runoff election in an attempt to force the vote's postponement until spring, his campaign manager said — a move that would dim US hopes for a stable Afghan Government for months.

2010: A former teenage al-Qaeda fighter is sentenced to eight more years in custody under the terms of a plea agreement unsealed after a military sentencing jury said Canadian-born Omar Khadr should serve 40 years for war crimes in Afghanistan.

2011: Palestine wins its greatest international endorsement yet — full membership in UNESCO — but the move will cost the agency one-fifth of its funding as the US suspends its contribution in protest.

2012: President Barack Obama joins New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for a tour of damage along the Jersey coast from Superstorm Sandy; Wall Street is back in business after a two-day shutdown caused by the storm (stocks finished mixed).

2016: Pope Francis marks the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation by travelling to secular Sweden, where he encouraged Catholics and Lutherans to forgive the "errors" of the past and forge greater unity, including sharing in the Eucharist.


Jan Vermeer, Dutch artist (1632-1675); John Keats, British poet (1795-1821); Chiang Kai-shek, President of Nationalist China (1887-1975); Eddie Charlton, Australian world snooker champion (1929-2004); Norodom Sihanouk, former Cambodian king (1922-2012); Dan Rather, former CBS anchorman (1931- ); Deidre Hall, actress (1947- ); Vanilla Ice (aka Rob Van Winkle), rap performer, (1967- ); Willow Smith, actress-singer (2000- )

— AP/Jamaica Observer

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