This Day In History, July 31st

What happened on this day in history: Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory, 17th president of the United States Andrew Johnson dies, and more.

1703: Daniel Defoe Is Placed In A Pillory

Daniel Defoe

Wikimedia CommonsA depiction of Daniel Defoe in the pillory, and the flowers people threw at his feet.

Daniel Defoe is put in a pillory. A writer best known for Robinson Crusoe (1719), Defoe was punished for publishing The Shortest Way with Dissenters (1702) an anti-Church satire. While in the pillory, however, people threw flowers at Defoe instead of the customary stones.

1715: A Hurricane Sinks Spanish Treasure Ships

A hurricane sinks 10 Spanish ships full of gold and silver off the coast of present-day Florida. The ships, en route home from Cuba, sank swiftly in the storm, killing around 1,000 people. Though Spain recovered much of the lost treasure the next year, it took until the 1960s to recover it all.

1875: Andrew Johnson Dies

Andrew Johnson

Public DomainAndrew Johnson in 1875, the year that he died.

Andrew Johnson dies following a stroke at the age of 66 in Elizabethton, Tennessee. A former president who rose to the presidency following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Johnson was the first president to be impeached (though he was not convicted). He asked to be buried wrapped in an American flag with the Constitution beneath his head, though many contemporary historians consider him one of the worst presidents in American history.

1987: An F4 Tornado Hits Edmonton, Canada

A tornado tears through Edmonton, Canada. The powerful storm, which raged for an hour, killed 27 people, injured more than 300, and destroyed more than 300 homes. It’s considered one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history.