This Day In History : May 31

1870 United States

Congress passes 1st Enforcement Act (rights of blacks)

On May 31, 1870, the first Enforcement Act of 1870, also known as the “Civil Rights Act of 1870” or the “Force Act” or the “First Ku Klux Klan Act,” was signed into law by the eighteenth President of the United States, President Hiram Ulysses Grant, after being passed by the U.S. Congress.

Also on This Day in History May 31

Discover what happened on May 31 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, May 31
  • 1930 Ron Toomer

    American engineer who was a legendary creator of steel roller coasters.

  • 1941 Louis J. Ignarro

    Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that nitric oxide (NO) acts as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system.

  • 1931 Robert Schrieffer

    Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the BCS theory, the first successful quantum theory of superconductivity.

  • 1912 Martin Schwarzschild

    He traced the post-main sequence evolutionary tracks on the Hertzprung-Russel diagram, indicating how stars become red giants.

  • 1872 C. G. Abbot

    Dedicated his research career to the long-term study of the solar constant.

Deaths on This Day, May 31
  • 1976 Jacques Monod

    He was a French biochemist who, with François Jacob, investigated how genes regulate cell metabolism by directing the biosynthesis of enzymes.

  • 1832 Évariste Galois

    French mathematician famous for his contributions to the part of higher algebra known as group theory.

  • 1831 Samuel Bentham

    He was a noted English mechanical engineer and naval architect credited with numerous innovations, particularly related to naval architecture, including weapons.

  • 1910 Elizabeth Blackwell

    English-American physician who is considered the first female doctor of medicine in modern times.

  • 1791 Emanuel Mendes da Costa

    He was an English botanist, naturalist, philosopher, and collector of valuable notes and of manuscripts, and of anecdotes of the literati.


Battle of Jutland

1916 Battle of Jutland: Largest naval battle of World War I between the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet which killed 8,645 in an inconclusive battle but strategic British victory.

Usain Bolt sets a new world record

Usain Bolt sets a new world record in the 100 meters sprint with a time of 9.72 seconds at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City.

A Massive Earthquake

A massive earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale strikes Ancash, Peru, causing an avalanche that buries the town of Yungay and kills an estimated 70,000 people.  

Bradman Completes 1,000 Runs

1930 Donald Bradman batting for Australia v Hampshire at Southampton is 47 not out at stumps, bringing his aggregate to 1,001 runs.
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