This Day in History – May 31

Today is the 151st day of 2021. There are 214 days left in the year.


2003: Air France’s Concorde returned to Paris in a final commercial flight.


1043: Lady Godiva rides naked through the market square in Coventry, England.

1790: President George Washington signs into law the first US Copyright Act.

1859: The Big Ben clock tower in London goes into operation, chiming for the first time.

1884: Dr John Harvey Kellogg applies for a patent for flaked cereal.

1889: More than 2,000 people perish when a dam break sent water rushing through Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

1899: George Whitehouse, a British engineer, decides to build a workshop for the Uganda Railway in a swamp where Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, later grows.

1902: Peace of Vereeniging ends Boer War, in which British casualties numbered 5,774 killed and 16,000 deaths from disease, against 4,000 Boers killed in action.

1910: The Transvaal and the Orange Free State are united with the Cape Colony to form the self-governing Union of South Africa under the British crown.

1911: General Porfirio Diaz goes into exile in France, ending 34 years as strongman president of Mexico.

1913: US Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan proclaims the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution, providing for popular election of US senators, to be in effect.

1916: The British and German fleets meet in the world’s largest naval battle, a largely inconclusive one off Jutland, Denmark. The German fleet stays in port for the rest of World War I.

1931: Oil is found in Bahrain, the first petroleum discovery in the Arab world.

1937: The German fleet bombards Almeria, Spain, in reprisal for Loyalist air attacks on its battleship Deutschland.

1941: Tobacco Road, a play about an impoverished Southern family based on the novel by Erskine Caldwell, closes on Broadway after a run of 3,182 performances.

1961: South Africa becomes an independent republic as it withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

1962: Former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann is hanged in Israel a few minutes before midnight for his role in the Holocaust.

1966: Court in the Congo sentences former Premier Evariste Kimba and three others to death on charges of plotting to overthrow President Joseph Mobutu.

1970: Earthquake hits Peru, leaving more than 66,000 dead, 20,000 missing and 200,000 injured.

1973: US Senate votes to cut off all funds for US bombing operations in Cambodia.

1976: Indonesia completes takeover of East Timor.

1977: The trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making, is completed.

1985: At least 88 people are killed, more than 1,000 injured, as over 40 tornadoes sweep through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Ontario, Canada, during an eight-hour period.

1990: Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in the United States for summit talks with US President George Bush.

1991: Angolan peace accords are signed in Lisbon, Portugal, ending a 16-year civil war.

1992: Rival political and ethnic groups riot in Rwanda, killing at least five people ahead of peace talks.

1993: Suspected Khmer Rouge guerrillas in Cambodia ambush a UN convoy, killing one peacekeeper and wounding five in an escalation of attacks.

1994: The United States announces it is no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.

1995: Benjamin Netanyahu is declared the winner over Prime Minister Shimon Peres in Israeli election.

1996: An ethnic Croat who fought in the Bosnian Serb forces becomes the first person to be convicted by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. He is later sentenced to 10 years in prison for his part in the execution of Muslims in Srebrenica.

2000: Hong Kong closes its last Vietnamese refugee camp, ending the quarter-century boat people saga in the territory and leaving about 100 people homeless.

2003: Chinese diplomats carry 18 Tibetan refugees back across the border from Katmandu, Nepal’s capital, in the first forced repatriation in over 10 years. President George W Bush visits the site of the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland. Anti-government extremist and bomber Eric Rudolph is arrested outside a grocery store in Murphy, North Carolina.

2004: A bomb rips through a Shiite Muslim mosque in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 16 people and wounding 38 others.

2005: The fallen oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is sentenced to nine years in prison, ending the biggest case in post-Soviet Russia. The year-long trial spurred accusations that it was linked to Khodorkovsky’s opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

2006: The United States and Vietnam sign a trade pact that removes one of the last major hurdles in Hanoi’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.

2007: About 1,000 die-hard supporters of Thailand’s ousted prime minister demonstrate against a stunning court ruling May 30 that banned his party and barred its entire leadership from politics for five years.

2008: Space shuttle Discovery and a crew of seven blast into orbit, carrying a giant Japanese lab addition to the international space station.

2009: The world’s most powerful laser, created to help keep tabs on the US nuclear weapons stockpile while also studying the heavens, is unveiled.

2010: Israeli commandos rappel down to an aid flotilla sailing to thwart a Gaza blockade, clashing with pro-Palestinian activists on the lead ship in a botched raid that left at least nine passengers dead.

2012: President Barack Obama welcomes his predecessor back to the White House for the unveiling of the official portraits of former President George W Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.


US actor-director Clint Eastwood (1930-); US actress Sharon Gless (1943- ); American Football Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath (1943- ); US actor Tom Berenger (1950- ); Actress Lea Thompson (1961- ); American rapper DMC (1964- ); US actress Brooke Shields (1965- ); American musician Ed Adkins (1967- ); Irish actor Colin Farrell (1976- ); American rapper Waka Flocka Flame (1986- )

– AP

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