On This day in History May 31

May 31 – Events:

  • 1279 BC – Rameses II (The Great) (19th dynasty) becomes pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
  • 1223 – Mongol invasion of the Cumans: Battle of the Kalka River – Mongol armies of Genghis Khan lead by Subutai defeat Kievan Rus and Cumans.
  • 1578 – Martin Frobisher sails from Harwich, England to Frobisher Bay, Canada, eventually to mine fool’s gold, used to pave streets in London.
  • 1669 – Citing poor eyesight, Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary.
  • 1678 – The Godiva procession through Coventry begins.
  • 1759 – The Province of Pennsylvania bans all theater productions.
  • 1775 – American Revolutionary War: The Mecklenburg Resolutions adopted urging the American Colonies to declare independence from Great Britain.
  • 1790 – Alferez Manuel Quimper explores the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
  • 1790 – The United States enacts its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.
  • 1813 – In Australia, Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth, reached Mount Blaxland, effectively marking the end of a route across the Blue Mountains.
  • 1862 – American Civil War Peninsula Campaign: Battle of Seven Pines or (Battle of Fair Oaks) – Confederate forces under Joseph E. Johnston & G. W. Smith engage Union forces under George B. McClellan outside Richmond, Virginia.
  • 1864 – American Civil War Overland Campaign: Battle of Cold Harbor – The Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee engages the Army of the Potomac under Ulysses S. Grant & George G. Meade.
  • 1866 – In the Fenian Invasion of Canada, John O’Neill leads 850 Fenian raiders across the Niagara River at Buffalo, New York/Fort Erie, Ontario, as part of an effort to free Ireland from the English. Canadian militia and British regulars repulse the invaders in over the next three days, at a cost of 9 dead and 38 wounded to the Fenian’s 19 dead and about 17 wounded.
  • 1889 – Johnstown Flood: Over 2,200 people die after a dam break sends a 60-foot (18-meter) wall of water over the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
  • 1902 – Second Boer War: The Treaty of Vereeniging ends the war and ensures British control of South Africa.
  • 1910 – Creation of the Union of South Africa.
  • 1911 – R.M.S. Titanic launched.
  • 1916 – World War I: Battle of Jutland – The British Grand Fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe & Sir David Beatty engage the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Reinhard Scheer & Franz von Hipper in the largest naval battle of the war, which proves indecisive.
  • 1921 – Tulsa Race Riot: A civil unrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, the official death toll is 39.
  • 1924 – The Soviet Union signs an agreement with the Peking government, referring to Outer Mongolia as an “integral part of the Republic of China,” whose “sovereignty” therein the Soviet Union promises to respect.
  • 1927 – The last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.
  • 1931 – 7.1 magnitude Earthquake destroys Quetta in modern-day Pakistan: 40,000 dead.
  • 1942 – World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines begin a series of attacks on Sydney, Australia.
  • 1961 – Republic of South Africa created.
  • 1962 – The West Indies Federation dissolves.
  • 1970 – The Ancash earthquake causes a landslide that buries the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people are killed.
  • 1971 – In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time, rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.
  • 1973 – The United States Senate votes to cut off funding for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets within Cambodia, hastening the end of the Cambodian Civil War.
  • 1977 – The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System completed.
  • 1985 – United States-Canadian Outbreak: Forty-one tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead.
  • 1985 – Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) became a Schedule I drug in the United States.
  • 1987 – Athena 98.4 FM, the first legal private radio station starts broadcasting in Greece.
  • 1997 – The Confederation Bridge opens, linking Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick.

May 31 – Birthdays:

  • 1048 – Omar Khayyám, Persian philosopher (d. 1131)
  • 1443 – Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII of England (d. 1509)
  • 1469 – Manuel I of Portugal (d. 1521)
  • 1522 – Guido de Bres, Belgian theologian (d. 1587)
  • 1535 – Alessandro Allori, Italian painter (d. 1607)
  • 1557 – Feodor I of Russia (d. 1598)
  • 1613 – John George II, Elector of Saxony (d. 1680)
  • 1640 – Michal Wisniowiecki, King of Poland (d. 1673)
  • 1656 – Marin Marais, French composer (d. 1728)
  • 1753 – Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud, French revolutionary (d. 1793)
  • 1754 – Andrea Appiani, Italian painter (d. 1817)
  • 1773 – Ludwig Tieck, German writer (d. 1853)
  • 1801 – Johann Georg Baiter, Swiss philologist (d. 1887)
  • 1818 – John Albion Andrew, 25th Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1867)
  • 1819 – Walt Whitman, American poet (d. 1892)
  • 1835 – Hijikata Toshizo, Japanese military leader (d. 1869)
  • 1838 – Henry Sidgwick, English philosopher (d. 1900)
  • 1852 – Francisco Moreno, Argentine explorer (d. 1919)
  • 1857 – Pope Pius XI (d. 1939)
  • 1860 – Walter Sickert, English painter (d. 1942)
  • 1863 – Francis Younghusband, British explorer (d. 1942)
  • 1872 – Heath Robinson, English cartoonist (d. 1944)
  • 1882 – Sándor Graf Festetics, Hungarian politician (d. 1956)
  • 1883 – Lauri Kristian Relander, 2nd President of Finland (d. 1942)
  • 1885 – Alois Hudal, bishop, helped Nazis escape trial (d. 1963)
  • 1887 – Saint-John Perse, French diplomat, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1975)
  • 1892 – Michel Kikoine, Belarus painter (d. 1968)
  • 1892 – Konstantin Georgiyevich Paustovsky, Russian writer (d. 1968)
  • 1894 – Fred Allen, American comedian (d. 1956)
  • 1898 – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, American clergyman (d. 1993)
  • 1901 – Alfredo Antonini, American conductor and composer (d. 1983)
  • 1905 – Florence Desmond, English actress and comedian (d. 1993)
  • 1908 – Don Ameche, American actor (d. 1993)
  • 1908 – Nils Poppe, Swedish actor (d. 2000)
  • 1909 – Aurore Gagnon, French Canadian victim of child abuse (d. 1920)
  • 1911 – Maurice Allais, French economist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1912 – Alfred Deller, English countertenor (d. 1979)
  • 1916 – Bert Haanstra, Dutch filmmaker (d. 1997)
  • 1921 – Alida Valli, Italian actress (d. 2006)
  • 1921 – Howard Reig, American radio and television announcer
  • 1922 – Denholm Elliott, English actor (d. 1992)
  • 1923 – Rainier III, Prince of Monaco (d. 2005)
  • 1930 – Clint Eastwood, American film director and actor
  • 1931 – John Robert Schrieffer, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1931 – Shirley Verrett, American soprano
  • 1932 – Jay Miner, American microchip designer (d. 1994)
  • 1935 – Jim Bolger, 35th Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • 1938 – Johnny Paycheck, American singer (d. 2003)
  • 1938 – John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  • 1938 – Peter Yarrow, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary)
  • 1939 – Terry Waite, British humanitarian
  • 1940 – Gilbert Shelton, American underground comics illustrator
  • 1941 – Louis J. Ignarro, American pharmacologist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1943 – Sharon Gless, American actress
  • 1943 – Joe Namath, American football player
  • 1945 – Rainer Werner Fassbinder, German film director (d. 1982)
  • 1945 – Bernard Goldberg?, American journalist
  • 1946 – Ted Baehr, American media critic
  • 1948 – John Bonham, British musician (Led Zeppelin) (d. 1980)
  • 1949 – Tom Berenger, American actor
  • 1949 – Nancy Shade, American soprano
  • 1950 – Gregory Harrison, American actor
  • 1952 – Karl Bartos, German musician (Kraftwerk, Electronic)
  • 1953 – Pirkka-Pekka Petelius, Finnish actor
  • 1954 – Vicki Sue Robinson, American singer (d. 2000)
  • 1954 – Thomas Mavros, Greek footballer
  • 1956 – Fritz Hilpert, German musician and sound engineer (Kraftwerk)
  • 1957 – Jim Craig, American hockey player
  • 1959 – Andrea de Cesaris, Italian racing driver
  • 1960 – Greg C. Adams, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1960 – Chris Elliott, American comedian
  • 1961 – Ray Cote, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1961 – Lea Thompson, American actress
  • 1962 – Corey Hart, Canadian musician
  • 1962 – Sebastian Koch, German actor
  • 1963 – Teresa Cheung, Hong Kong socialite
  • 1963 – Hugh Dillon, Canadian musician and actor
  • 1963 – Viktor Orbán, Hungarian politician
  • 1963 – Wesley Willis, American musician (d. 2003)
  • 1964 – Leonard Asper, Canadian businessman
  • 1964 – Scotti Hill, American rock guitarist
  • 1964 – Darryl McDaniels, American musician (Run-D.M.C.)
  • 1965 – Brooke Shields, American model
  • 1966 – Jeremy Hotz, Canadian stand-up comedian
  • 1966 – Nick Scotti, American actor and singer
  • 1967 – Sandrine Bonnaire, French actress
  • 1967 – Phil Keoghan, New Zealand television personality
  • 1967 – Kenny Lofton, American baseball player
  • 1967 – Vampiro, Canadian professional wrestler
  • 1972 – Frode Estil, Norwegian cross-country skier
  • 1972 – Sarah Murdoch, English model
  • 1972 – Karl Geary, Irish actor
  • 1972 – Dave Roberts, American baseball player
  • 1974 – Chad Campbell, American golfer
  • 1974 – Zsolt Erdei, Hungarian light heavyweight boxer
  • 1974 – Adrian Tomine, American cartoonist
  • 1975 – Sienna Guillory, English actress
  • 1976 – Colin Farrell, Irish actor
  • 1977 – Theodoros Baev, Bulgarian-born Greek volleyball player
  • 1977 – Debbie King, English TV presenter
  • 1977 – Scott Klopfenstein, American musician (Reel Big Fish)
  • 1980 – Andy Hurley, American musician (Fall Out Boy)
  • 1981 – Jake Peavy, American baseball player
  • 1983 – Dustin Wells, New Zealand footballer
  • 1983 – Reggie Yates, English television presenter
  • 1984 – Nate Robinson, American basketball player
  • 1984 – Jason Smith, Australian actor
  • 1985 – Ian Vouyoukas, Greek basketball player
  • 1986 – Sopho Khalvashi, Georgian musical artist
  • 1986 – Melissa McIntyre, Canadian actress
  • 1986 – Robert Gesink, Dutch cyclist
  • 1988 – Hope Partlow, American Singer

May 31 – Deaths:

  • 1246 – Isabella of Angouleme, queen of John of England
  • 1349 – Thomas Wake, English politician (b. 1297)
  • 1408 – Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Japanese shogun (b. 1358)
  • 1410 – King Martin I of Aragon (b. 1356)
  • 1495 – Cecily Neville, mother of Edward IV of England and Richard III of England (b. 1415)
  • 1558 – Philip Hoby, English politician (b. 1505)
  • 1594 – Tintoretto, Italian painter (b. 1518)
  • 1680 – Joachim Neander, German clergyman (b. 1650)
  • 1740 – King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia (b. 1688)
  • 1747 – Andrei Osterman, Russian statesman (b. 1686)
  • 1799 – Pierre Lemonnier, French astronomer (b. 1715)
  • 1809 – Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer (b. 1732)
  • 1809 – Jean Lannes, French marshal (b. 1769)
  • 1831 – Samuel Bentham, British mechanical engineer (b. 1757)
  • 1832 – Évariste Galois, French mathematician (b. 1811)
  • 1837 – Joseph Grimaldi, British clown (b. 1779)
  • 1846 – Philip Marheineke, German clergyman (b. 1780)
  • 1847 – Thomas Chalmers, Scottish pastor (b. 1780)
  • 1848 – Eugénie de Guérin, French writer (b. 1805)
  • 1908 – Louis-Honoré Fréchette, French Canadian poet (b. 1839)
  • 1910 – Elizabeth Blackwell, American physician (b. 1821)
  • 1945 – Odilo Globocnik, Austrian nazi (b. 1904)
  • 1957 – Leopold Staff, Polish poet (b. 1878)
  • 1960 – Willem Elsschot, Flemish writer (b. 1882)
  • 1960 – Walther Funk, Nazi leader (b. 1890)
  • 1961 – Walter Little, Canadian politician (b. 1877)
  • 1962 – Henry Fountain Ashurst, American politician (b. 1874)
  • 1967 – Billy Strayhorn, American composer, pianist and arranger (b. 1915)
  • 1970 – Terry Sawchuk, hockey player (b. 1929)
  • 1972 – Walter Freeman, American physician (b. 1895)
  • 1976 – Jacques Monod, French biologist, Nobel laureate (b. 1910)
  • 1977 – William Castle, American director (b. 1914)
  • 1978 – József Bozsik, Hungarian footballer (b. 1925)
  • 1983 – Jack Dempsey, American boxer (b. 1895)
  • 1986 – Jane Frank (Jane Schenthal Frank), American artist (b. 1918)
  • 1986 – James Rainwater, American physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1917)
  • 1987 – John Abraham (Director), Indian film director
  • 1993 – Spuds Mackenzie, American advertisement dog
  • 1994 – Herva Nelli, Italian-born soprano (b. 1909)
  • 1996 – Timothy Leary, American professor and LSD advocate (b. 1920)
  • 1997 – James Bennett Griffin, American archaeologist (b. 1905)
  • 1998 – Charles Van Acker, Belgian racing driver (b. 1912)
  • 2000 – Tito Puente, American musician (b. 1923)
  • 2000 – Johnnie Taylor, American singer (b. 1938)
  • 2001 – Arlene Francis, American television personality (d. 1907)
  • 2004 – Robert Quine, American guitarist (b. 1941)
  • 2004 – Étienne Roda-Gil, French songwriter and screenwriter (b. 1941)
  • 2006 – Ryan Bennett, broadcast commentator (b. 1970)
  • 2006 – Miguel Berrocal, sculptor (b. 1933)
  • 2006 – Raymond Davis Jr., American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1914)
  • 2006 – Lula Mae Hardaway, American songwriter (b. 1930), mother of singer Stevie Wonder

May 31 – Holidays:

  • The Godiva procession.
  • World No Tobacco Day.
  • Syaday (Discordianism).
  • The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Memorial Day in USA (last Monday in May)
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