On May 31:
1279 BC – Rameses II (The Great) (19th dynasty) became pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
526 A an earthquke in Antioch, Turkey, killed 250,000.
1669 Samuel Pepys recorded the last event in his diary.
1678 The Godiva procession through Coventry began.
1759 The Province of Pennsylvania banned all theatre productions.
1775 American Revolution: The Mecklenburg Resolutions adopted in the Province of North Carolina.
1790 – The United States enacted its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.
1819 Walt Whitman, American poet, was born (d. 1892).
1859 The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time.
1862 American Civil War Peninsula Campaign: Battle of Seven Pines or (Battle of Fair Oaks) – Confederate forces under Joseph E. Johnston & G. W. Smith engaged 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 engaged the Army of the Potomac under Ulysses S. Grant & George G. Meade.
1866 In the Fenian Invasion of Canada, John O’Neill led 850 Fenian raiders across the Niagara Riveras part of an effort to free Ireland from the English.
1872 Heath Robinson, English cartoonist, was born (d. 1944).
1884 Arrival at Plymouth of Tawhiao, Maori king, to claim protection of Queen Victoria.
1898 Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, American clergyman, was born (d. 1993).
1902 The Treaty of Vereeniging ended the second Boer War war and ensured British control of South Africa.
1910 Creation of the Union of South Africa.
1911 The ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic was launched.
1916 World War I: Battle of Jutland – The British Grand Fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe & Sir David Beatty engaged the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Reinhard Scheer & Franz von Hipper in the largest naval battle of the war, which proved indecisive.
1921 Tulsa Race Riot: A civil unrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the official death toll was 39, but recent investigations suggest the actual toll was much higher.
1923 Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, was born (d. 2005).
1924 The Soviet Union signed 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 promised to respect.
1927 The last Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.
1930 Clint Eastwood, American film director and actor, was born.
1935 Jim Bolger, 35th Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.
1938 Peter Yarrow, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), was born.
1939 Terry Waite, British humanitarian, was born.
1941 A Luftwaffe air raid in Dublin claimed 38 lives.
1942 World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines began a series of attacks on Sydney.
1943 Zoot Suit Riots began.
1961 Republic of South Africa created.
1962 The West Indies Federation dissolved.
1962 Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel.
1965 Brooke Shields, American actress and supermodel, was born.
1967 Phil Keoghan, New Zealand-born US televison personality, was born.
1970 The Ancash earthquake caused a landslide that buried the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people were 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 voted to cut off funding for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets within Cambodia, hastening the end of the Cambodian Civil War.
1975 Mona Blades, an 18 year-old htich hiker disappeared, after last being seen in an orange Datsun.
1977 The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System completed.
1981 Burning of Jaffna library, Sri Lanka.
1985 Forty-one tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead.
Sourced from NZ History Online & WIkipedia