On July 31 in …
30 BC –- In Egypt, Mark Antony achieves a minor victory over Octavian’s forces in the Battle of Alexandria, but most of his army subsequently deserts, leading to his suicide.
1492 –- Under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the expulsion of all Jews from Spain is begun as the Alhambra Decree takes effect.
1777 –- The Second Continental Congress passes a resolution that the services of Gilbert du Motier “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.” Du Motier, better known as the Marquis de Lafayette, was two months shy of his 20th birthday.
1790 –- The first U.S. patent is issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford, VT, for an improvement “in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process.” Potash is one of several salts mined to extract its potassium. Because there was no federal Patent Office at that time, Hopkins received the patent after petitioning for it under the new U.S. patent statute signed into law by President Washington on April 10 of that year.
2012 –- Swimmer Michael Phelps breaks the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the most medals won at the Olympic Games. He compiled 22 medals (18 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze medals); the Soviet gymnast had won 14 (6 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze).