1790: The Copyright Act of 1790 is enacted in the U.S. It’s the first copyright statue to be passed in the United States.
1795: The Revolutionary Tribunal during the French Revolution is suppressed.
1805: British forces at Diamond Rock are assaulted by Franco-Spanish forces during the Battle of Diamond Rock.
1859: Big Ben – which is housed at the Houses of Parliament – begins keeping time.
1862: The Battle of Fair Oaks erupts during the American Civil War. During this battle, which is also known as the Battle of 7 Pines, Union forces led by George B. McClellan and Confederate forces led by Joseph E. Johnston and G.W. Smith clash just outside of Richmond in Virginia.
1864: Robert E. Lee leads the Army of Northern Virginia against the Army of the Potomac led by Ulysses S. Grant and George Meade at the Battle of Cold Harbor during the American Civil War.
1889: When a dam fails over the town of Johnstown in Pennsylvania, the resulting flood waters will result in the death of approximately twenty-two hundred people.
1941: The U.K re-occuppies Iraq and puts ‘Abd al-Ilah back into power as the regent for Faisal II during the Anglo-Iraqi War.
1942: Midget submarines of the Japanese Imperial Navy begin to make a series of attacks on the port of Sydney in Australia during World War 2.
1971: The Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the United States Congress 3-years earlier comes into effect. It sets Memorial Day observances on the last Monday in May, instead of it being held on the 30th of May.
Famous Birthdays on May 31
American poet and essayist, Walt Whitman is born in 1819.
English economist and philosopher, Henry Sidgwick is born in 1838.
American actor and director, Clint Eastwood is born in 1930.
American physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, John Robert Schrieffer is born in 1931.
American actor Jim Hutton is born in 1934.
English drummer and songwriter, John Bonham is born in 1948.