May 31st in History

This day in history

May 31 is the 151st day of the year (152nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 214 days remaining until the end of the year.



In 1279 BC,  Ramesses II (The Great) (19th dynasty) becomes pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

In 455,  Emperor Petronius Maximus is stoned to death by an angry mob while fleeing Rome.

In 526,  A devastating earthquake strikes Antioch killing 250,000.

In 1223,  Mongol invasion of the Cumans: Battle of the Kalka River: Mongol armies of Genghis Khan led by Subutai defeat Kievan Rus’ and Cumans.

Lady Godiva by John Collier, c. 1897, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

In 1230, According to the typical version of the story, Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering grievously under her husband’s oppressive taxation. Lady Godiva appealed again and again to her husband, who obstinately refused to remit the tolls. At last, weary of her entreaties, he said he would grant her request if she would strip naked and ride on a horse through the streets of the town. Lady Godiva took him at his word, and after issuing a proclamation that all persons should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town, clothed only in her long hair. Just one person in the town, a tailor ever afterwards known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her proclamation in one of the most famous instances of voyeurism.

In 1578,  Martin Frobisher sails from Harwich in England to Frobisher Bay in Canada, eventually to mine fool’s gold, used to pave streets in London.

A procession in the Catacomb of Callixtus; painting by Alberto Pisa

In 1578, The Catacombs of Rome are discovered by accident, after which Antonio Bosio spent decades exploring and researching them for his volume, Roma Sotterranea (1632). Archeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1822–1894) published the first extensive professional studies about catacombs. In 1956 and 1959 Italian authorities found more catacombs near Rome. The catacombs have become an important monument of the early Christian church.

In 1578,  King Henry III lays the first stone of the Pont Neuf (New Bridge), the oldest bridge of Paris, France.

In 1634, US colony Massachusetts Bay annexes the Maine colony. Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820, when it voted to secede from Massachusetts to become a separate state. On March 15, 1820, under the Missouri Compromise, it was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state.

In 1638, Establishment of Hartford, Connecticut.

In 1669,  Citing poor eyesight, Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary.

In 1775,  American Revolution: The Mecklenburg Resolves are allegedly adopted in the Province of North Carolina.

In 1790,  Manuel Quimper explores the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

In 1790,  The United States enacts its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.

In 1795,  French Revolution: The Revolutionary Tribunal is suppressed.

In 1805,  French and Spanish forces begin the assault against British forces occupying Diamond Rock.

In 1813,  In Australia, William Lawson, Gregory Blaxland and William Wentworth reach Mount Blaxland, effectively marking the end of a route across the Blue Mountains.

In 1825, The United States proclaimed the treaty of General Convention of Peace, Amity, Navigation, and Commerce with Columbia in the first ever treaty with a South American country.

In 1837, New York’s Astor Hotel opened as the most elaborate in the U.S. It was founded by John Jacob Astor, a rich fur trader. Years later, it became the Waldorf-Astoria.

In 1854,  The civil death procedure is abolished in France.

In 1859,  The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, starts keeping time.

In 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.

In 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 and George Meade.

In 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 United Kingdom. Canadian militia and British regulars repulse the invaders in over the next three days, at a cost of nine dead and 38 wounded to the Fenian‘s 19 dead and about 17 wounded.

In 1868, Ironton, Ohio has the nation’s first Memorial Day parade.

In 1870, Professor Edward J. de Smedt patents sheet asphalt pavement.

In 1878, German battleship Grosser Kurfurst sinks, 284 killed.

In 1879,  Gilmores Garden in New York, New York, is renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and is opened to the public at 26th Street and Madison Avenue.

In 1879, The first electric railway opened at the Berlin Trades Exposition.

In 1884,  The arrival at Plymouth of Tāwhiao, King of Maoris, to claim the protection of Queen Victoria.

In 1884, A patent for “flaked cereal” was applied for by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.

In 1889,  Johnstown Flood: Over 2,200 people die after a dam fails and sends a 60-foot (18-meter) wall of water over the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

In 1891, Work on trans-Siberian railway begins.

In 1894, The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to declare a policy of non-interference in the Hawaiian Islands.

In 1900, U.S. troops arrive in Peking to help put down the Boxer Rebellion.

In 1902,  Second Boer War: The Treaty of Vereeniging ends the war and ensures British control of South Africa.

In 1907, Taxis arrived in New York City on this day. If they arrived like they do today in the Big Apple, there must have been quite a bit of pandemonium! The new Paris cabs were the first in the United States.

In 1909,  The National Negro Committee, forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, convenes for the first time.

In 1910,  The creation of the Union of South Africa as a commonwealth of England.

Elizabeth Blackwell.jpgIn 1910,  Elizabeth Blackwell, English-American physician (b. 1821) dies after suffering a stroke that paralyzed half her body. She was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as the first woman on the UK Medical Register. She was the first woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States, and a social and moral reformer in both the United States and in Britain. Her sister Emily was the third woman in the US to get a medical degree.

In 1911,  The hull of the ocean liner RMS Titanic is launched.

In 1911,  The President of Mexico Porfirio Díaz flees the country during the Mexican Revolution.

In 1913, In the second act towards the destruction of the United States of the America, the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing for the popular election of U.S. senators, was declared in effect. In doing so, we initiated the separation of the United States Senate from the separate and sovereign states and initiated federalism.

In 1916,  World War I: Battle of Jutland: The British Grand Fleet under the command of John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe and David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty engage the Imperial German Navy under the command of Reinhard Scheer and Franz von Hipper in the largest naval battle of the war, which proves indecisive.

In 1921,  Tulsa race riot: civil unrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The official death toll is 39, but recent investigations suggest the actual toll may be much higher.

In 1924,  The Soviet Union signs an agreement with the Beijing government, referring to Outer Mongolia as an “integral part of the Republic of China“, whose “sovereignty” therein the Soviet Union promises to respect.

In 1927,  The last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

In 1929,  The first talking Mickey Mouse cartoon, “The Karnival Kid“, is released.

In 1935,  A 7.7 Mw earthquake destroys Quetta in modern-day Pakistan killing 40,000.

In 1937, The first quadruplets to complete college courses of study were awarded Bachelor of Arts degrees, individually, on this day. Mary, Mona, Roberta and Leota Keys received their degrees from Baylor University in Waco, TX.

In 1941,  A Luftwaffe air raid on Dublin, Ireland, claims 38 lives.

In 1941, The very first issue of the still popular “Parade: The Weekly Picture Newspaper” went on sale this day. Some 125,000 copies were sold for a nickel each. “Parade” became the most read publication in the U.S. with a circulation of over 22 million readers in 132 newspapers. Today, you’ll find “Parade” in many Sunday newspapers, included as part of the price. Gannett’s “USA Weekend” is a competitor in newspapers nationwide.

In 1941,  Anglo-Iraqi War: The United Kingdom completes the re-occupation of Iraq and returns ‘Abd al-Ilah to power as regent for Faisal II.

In 1942,  World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines begin a series of attacks on Sydney, Australia.

In 1955, the Supreme Court orders “all deliberate speed” in integration of all public schools.

In 1961,  The Union of South Africa becomes the Republic of South Africa as it left the Commonwealth (National Day).

In 1961, Fidel Castro announced that there would be no further elections in Cuba.

In 1961,  In Moscow City Court, the Rokotov–Faibishenko show trial begins, despite the Khrushchev Thaw to reverse Stalinist elements in Soviet society.

In 1962,  The West Indies Federation dissolves.

Eichmann, Adolf.jpgIn 1962,  Adolf Eichmann is hanged in Israel. He was a German Nazi SSObersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) and one of the major organisers of the Holocaust. Eichmann was charged by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich with facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II. In 1960, he was captured in Argentina by Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. Following a widely publicized trial in Israel, he was found guilty of war crimes and hanged in 1962.

In 1970,  The Ancash earthquake causes a landslide that buries the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people are killed.

In 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.

In 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.

In 1977,  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, three years in the making, was completed with the final weld made by construction workers near Pump Station Three.

William Castle.jpgIn 1977,  William Castle, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1914)  dies in Los Angeles, California, of a heart attack. He was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor.

Orphaned at 11, Castle dropped out of high school at 15 to work in the theater. He came to the attention of Columbia Pictures for his talent for promotion, and was hired. He learned the trade of filmmaking and became a director, acquiring a reputation for the ability to churn out competent B-movies quickly and on budget. He eventually struck out on his own, producing and directing thrillers which, despite their low budgets, were effectively promoted with gimmicks, a trademark for which he is best known. He was also the producer for Rosemary’s Baby.

In 1958, He financed his first movie, Macabre (1958), by mortgaging his house. He came up with the idea to give every customer a certificate for a $1,000 life insurance policy from Lloyd’s of London in case they should die of fright during the film. He stationed nurses in the lobbies with hearses parked outside the theaters. Macabre was a hit.

In 1981,  The burning of Jaffna library in Sri Lanka. It is one of the violent examples of ethnic biblioclasm of the twentieth century.

In 1983,  Jack Dempsey, American boxer (b. 1895) died of heart failure at age 87 in New York City. With his wife Deanna at his side, his last words were, “Don’t worry honey, I’m too mean to die.” William Harrison “Jack” Dempsey also known as “Kid Blackie” and “The Manassa Mauler”, was an American professional boxer, who became a cultural icon of the 1920s. Dempsey held the World Heavyweight Championship from 1919 to 1926, and his aggressive style and exceptional punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history. Many of his fights set financial and attendance records, including the first million-dollar gate. Listed at #10 on The Ring’s list of all-time heavyweights and #7 among its Top 100 Greatest Punchers, in 1950 the Associated Press voted Dempsey as the greatest fighter of the past 50 years. Dempsey is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and was inducted into The Ring magazine’s Boxing Hall of Fame in 1951

In 1985,  United States–Canadian tornado outbreak: Forty-one tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead.

In 1986, addressing AIDS research supporters in Washington, President Reagan called “for urgency, not panic,” but drew scattered boos when he announced he would seek expanded testing for the disease.

In 1988, On the third day of the Moscow superpower summit, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev said maybe it was “time to bang our fists on the table” to complete work on a strategic arms treaty while President Reagan said, “I’ll do anything that works.”

In 1989,  A group of six members of the guerrilla group Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) of Peru, shoot dead eight transsexuals, in the city of Tarapoto.

In 1989, House Speaker Jim Wright, dogged by questions about his ethics, announced he would resign. (Thomas Foley later succeeded him.).

In 1990, President Bush and his wife, Barbara, welcomed Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev in a ceremony on South Lawn of the White House. The two leaders and their aides then held talks on German reunification.

In 1991,  Bicesse Accords in Angola lay out a transition to multi-party democracy under the supervision of the United NationsUNAVEM II mission.

In 1994, US Representative Dan Rostenkowski (Democrat, Illinois), maintaining his innocence, was indicted on 17 felony counts alleging he’d plundered nearly $700,000 from the government. (Rostenkowski later pleaded guilty to two counts of misusing federal funds, and spent 451 days in federal custody.)

In 1995, Sen. Bob Dole accused Hollywood of promoting violence, rape and casual sex in music and movies, and said “the mainstreaming of deviancy must come to an end.”


1989 photo

In 1996, Timothy Leary, the counterculture guru of the 1960s who urged a generation of Americans to use the drug LSD so they could “turn on, tune in and drop out,” died of cancer. He was an American psychologist and writer known for advocating the exploration of the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs under controlled conditions. Leary conducted experiments under the Harvard Psilocybin Project during American legality of LSD and psilocybin, resulting in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment. Leary’s colleague, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), was fired from Harvard University on May 27, 1963 for giving psilocybin to an undergraduate student. Leary was planning to leave Harvard when his teaching contract expired in June, the following month. He was fired, for “failure to keep classroom appointments”, with his pay docked on April 30. Leary believed that LSD showed potential for therapeutic use in psychiatry. He used LSD himself and developed a philosophy of mind expansion and personal truth through LSD. He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy, such as “turn on, tune in, drop out“, “set and setting“, and “think for yourself and question authority“. He also wrote and spoke frequently about transhumanist concepts involving space migration, intelligence increase, and life extension (SMI²LE), and developed the eight-circuit model of consciousness in his book Exo-Psychology (1977). He gave lectures, occasionally billing himself as a “performing philosopher”. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was arrested often enough to see the inside of 36 different prisons worldwide. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as “the most dangerous man in America”.

In 2000, Microsoft responds with a filing for the judge which offers testimony from several executives of other companies who share the view of Microsoft that the breakup would be injurious to the industry and to the economy.

In 2005,  Vanity Fair reveals that Mark Felt was Deep Throat.

In 2010,  In international waters, armed Shayetet 13 commandos, intending to force the flotilla to anchor at the Ashdod port, boarded ships trying to break the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, resulting in nine civilian deaths.

In 2013,  The asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon make their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries.

In 2017,  A car bomb exploded in a crowded intersection in Kabul near the German embassy during rush hour, killing over 90 and injuring 463.

May God Bless and  Keep You This Day Till Tomorrow

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