Year
1776
Month Day
October 31

King George III speaks for first time since American independence declared

On October 31, 1776, in his first speech before British Parliament since the leaders of the American Revolution came together to sign of the Declaration of Independence that summer, King George III acknowledges that all was not going well for Britain in the war with the United States.

In his address, the king spoke about the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the revolutionary leaders who signed it, saying, “for daring and desperate is the spirit of those leaders, whose object has always been dominion and power, that they have now openly renounced all allegiance to the crown, and all political connection with this country.” The king went on to inform Parliament of the successful British victory over General George Washington and the Continental Army at the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776, but warned them that, “notwithstanding the fair prospect, it was necessary to prepare for another campaign.”

Despite George III’s harsh words, General William Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Howe, still hoped to convince the Americans to rejoin the British empire in the wake of the colonists’ humiliating defeat at the Battle of Long Island. The British could easily have prevented Washington’s retreat from Long Island and captured most of the Patriot officer corps, including the commander in chief. However, instead of forcing the former colonies into submission by executing Washington and his officers as traitors, the Howe brothers let them go with the hope of swaying Patriot opinion towards a return to the mother country.

The Howe brothers’ attempts at negotiation failed, and the War for Independence dragged on for another four years, until the formal surrender of the British to the Americans on October 19, 1781, after the Battle of Yorktown.

READ MORE: Revolutionary War 

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Stalin’s body removed from Lenin’s tomb

Five years after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalinism and the “personality cult” of Soviet rulers at the 20th Party Congress, Joseph Stalin’s embalmed body is removed from Lenin’s tomb in Moscow’s Red Square. When Vladimir Lenin died in 1924, the leader of Russia’s ...read more

Celebrated magician Harry Houdini dies

Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital. Twelve days before, Houdini had been talking to a group of students after a lecture in Montreal when he commented on the strength of his stomach muscles ...read more

Martin Luther posts 95 theses

On October 31, 1517, legend has it that the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation. In his theses, ...read more

Earl Lloyd becomes first Black player in the NBA

On October 31, 1950, 21-year-old Earl Lloyd becomes the first African American to play in an NBA game when he takes the court in the season opener for the Washington Capitols. Lloyd grew up in Jim Crow Virginia and went to West Virginia State, where he was the star of the ...read more

The U.S. Congress admits Nevada as the 36th state

On October 31, 1864, anxious to have support of the Republican-dominated Nevada Territory for President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection, the U.S. Congress quickly admits Nevada as the 36th state in the Union. In 1864, Nevada had only 40,000 inhabitants, considerably short of the ...read more

Ed Sullivan witnesses Beatlemania firsthand, paving the way for the British Invasion

In the autumn of 1963, Beatlemania was a raging epidemic in Britain, and it was rapidly spreading across the European continent. But in the United States, where the likes of Bobby Vinton and Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs sat atop the pop charts, John, Paul, George and Ringo ...read more

Actor River Phoenix dies

On October 31, 1993, the 23-year-old actor River Phoenix, who appeared in such films as Stand by Me and My Own Private Idaho, dies of a drug overdose outside a West Hollywood nightclub. At the time of his death, Phoenix was considered one of the most promising actors of his ...read more

The prime minister of India is assassinated

Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India, is assassinated in New Delhi by two of her own bodyguards. Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, both Sikhs, emptied their guns into Gandhi as she walked to her office from an adjoining bungalow. Although the two assailants immediately ...read more