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This Day in U.S. History: May 31


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

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

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 and George 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 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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

1929 – The first talking Mickey Mouse cartoon, "The Karnival Kid", is released.

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

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.

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

2005 – Vanity Fair reveals that Mark Felt was Deep Throat.

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


1819 – Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist, and journalist(d. 1892)

1898 – Norman Vincent Peale, American minister and author (d. 1993)

1930 – Clint Eastwood, American actor, director, and producer

1932 – Jay Miner, American computer scientist and engineer (d. 1994)

1938 – Johnny Paycheck, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2003)

1938 – Peter Yarrow, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (Peter, Paul and Mary)

1943 – Joe Namath, American football player, sportscaster, and actor

1957 – Jim Craig, American ice hockey player

1965 – Brooke Shields, American model, actress, and producer

1976 – Colin Farrell, Irish actor

1986 – Waka Flocka Flame, American rapper

1991 – Azealia Banks, American rapper


1983 – Jack Dempsey, American boxer and lieutenant (b. 1895)

1996 – Timothy Leary, American psychologist and author (b. 1920)

2010 – Louise Bourgeois, French-American sculptor and painter (b. 1911)

2013 – Gerald E. Brown, American physicist and academic (b. 1926)

2013 – Tim Samaras, American engineer and storm chaser (b. 1957)

2013 – Jean Stapleton, American actress and singer (b. 1923)