On July 31

July 31 is a day in history for the ladies. On this day, that age in history, one of the world’s most accomplished female authors is born, the first female president of the Bar Association is appointed, and the first female Olympic track and field runner wins a gold medal. But it is a man, and only a man, who gets pelted with flowers on this day in history, July 31. 

Famous Historical Events

1620: The Pilgrim Fathers depart from Leiden and head to England before crossing the Atlantic to America. On this day in history, the group from Leiden are also joined by another team of religious dissenters and rabble-rousers – The Strangers which included the future caption of the Mayflower Myles Standish, Christopher Martin, and Stephen Hopkins. Several other skilled tradespeople, recruited by The Merchant Adventures to help establish the new colony,  joined the group on this day. 

Pilgrim Fathers depart from Leiden

1703: Daniel Defoe gets put into a pillory. His heinous crime? Seditious libel after he publishes a politically satirical pamphlet that offended the wrong party. If you offend the wrong people in today’s age, you might get fired or become president. But in Defoe’s era, it was to the stocks with ye. Instead of getting hit with rotten vegetables and invectives, Defoe was instead pelted with flowers – a fitting punishment for such an accomplished satirist. 

1928: Halina Konopacka of Poland is the first female to win an Olympic gold medal on this day, that age in history. Konopacka grew up near Warsaw, Poland, and she had a talent and passion for discus throwing. Konopacka was so talented that she managed to break the world discus record at that time after only a few months of training.

In 1928, women were permitted to enter the Amsterdam Olympics for the first time in history, where she promptly won the gold medal for Track and Field. Konopacka always wore a red beret in her competitions, and her tall, athletic stature earned her the nickname Miss Olympia. 

Red Beret

1981: The first woman president is appointed to the US National Bar Association. Arnette R. Hubbard sets a record in the history of the organization. The Bar Association is the country’s most prominent and most influential association of African-American judges and lawyers. Her favorite food is greens, and she likes sunny weather. Hubbard has also won the Clarence Darrow Award for her contributions to social justice, and in 2002, she won the Obelisk Award for education and community service. 

Famous Birthdays

1965: J.K. Rowling

Rowling is born on this day in history in Gloucestershire, England. Creator of the Harry Potter series, Rowling is one of the world’s wealthiest authors. Her story is a rags-to-riches tale, where she went from being a single mother on benefits to the creator of one of the world’s most beloved and famous young adult series. Once a billionaire, Rowling lost her status when she gave away a massive chunk of her earnings to various charities. 

Famous Deathdays

54 BC: Aurelia Cotta

Aurelia Cotta was the mother of Julius Caesar, and she was considered fiercely independent and intelligent. Cotta raised Caesar as a single mother, and she also managed to save him from execution when he was 18. 

1886: Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt

Liszt was one of Hungary’s most famous virtuoso pianists and composers of the Romantic movement in Europe at the start of the 19th century. He was one of the most prominent representatives of the New German School and wrote more than 13 different musical pieces. 

Fortunately for those of us who live in the digital age, we don’t have to deal with being pilloried and pelted with flowers. Check back in with us again on July 31 next year to see what other strange and wondrous things have happened in history.

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