Today in History: May 31, the Johnstown Flood

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, May 31, the 151st day of 2022. There are 214 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 31, 1889, some 2,200 people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, perished when the South Fork Dam collapsed, sending 20 million tons of water rushing through the town.

On this date:

In 1790, President George Washington signed into law the first U.S. copyright act.

In 1859, the Big Ben clock tower in London went into operation, chiming for the first time.

In 1921, a race riot erupted in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as white mobs began looting and leveling the affluent Black district of Greenwood over reports a Black man had assaulted a white woman in an elevator; hundreds are believed to have died.

In 1949, former State Department official and accused spy Alger Hiss went on trial in New York, charged with perjury (the jury deadlocked, but Hiss was convicted in a second trial).

In 1962, former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel a few minutes before midnight for his role in the Holocaust.

In 1970, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Peru claimed an estimated 67,000 lives.

In 1977, the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making despite objections from environmentalists and Alaska Natives, was completed. (The first oil began flowing through the pipeline 20 days later.)

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

In 2009, Dr. George Tiller, a rare provider of late-term abortions, was shot and killed in a Wichita, Kansas, church. (Gunman Scott Roeder was later convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years.) Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, died in Southampton, England at 97.

In 2014, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan, was freed by the Taliban in exchange for five Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Bergdahl, who’d gone missing in June 2009, later pleaded guilty to endangering his comrades by walking away from his post in Afghanistan; his sentence included a dishonorable discharge, a reduction in rank and a fine, but no prison time.)

In 2019, a longtime city employee opened fire in a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia, killing 12 people on three floors before police shot and killed him; officials said DeWayne Craddock had resigned by email hours before the shooting.

In 2020, tens of thousands of protesters again took to the streets across America, with peaceful demonstrations against police killings overshadowed by unrest; officials deployed thousands of National Guard soldiers and enacted strict curfews in major cities.

Ten years ago: Democrat John Edwards’ campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial when jurors in Greensboro, North Carolina, acquitted him on one of six charges but were unable to decide whether he’d misused money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress while he ran for president. (Prosecutors declined to retry Edwards on the five unresolved counts.) President Barack Obama welcomed his predecessor back to the White House for the unveiling of the official portraits of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.

Five years ago: President Donald Trump welcomed Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (nuh-WEE’-ihn SOO’-an FOOK) to the White House for talks focusing on the American trade deficit. A suicide attacker struck the fortified heart of the Afghan capital Kabul with a massive truck bomb that killed more than 150 people.

One year ago: Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open before her second-round match and said she would be taking a break from competition; she said she experienced “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media, and that she had “suffered long bouts of depression.” (Osaka had been fined for skipping the postmatch news conference after her first-round victory.) China’s ruling Communist Party announced that all couples would be allowed to have three children instead of two.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-director Clint Eastwood is 92. Singer Peter Yarrow is 84. Humanitarian and author Terry Waite is 83. Singer-musician Augie Meyers is 82. Actor Sharon Gless is 79. Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath is 79. Broadcast journalist/commentator Bernard Goldberg is 77. Actor Tom Berenger is 72. Actor Gregory Harrison is 72. Actor Kyle Secor is 65. Actor Roma Maffia (ma-FEE’-uh) is 64. Actor/comedian Chris Elliott is 62. Actor Lea Thompson is 61. Singer Corey Hart is 60. Actor Hugh Dillon is 59. Rapper DMC is 58. Actor Brooke Shields is 57. TV host Phil Keoghan is 55. Jazz musician Christian McBride is 50. Actor Archie Panjabi is 50. Actor Merle Dandridge (TV: “Greenleaf”) is 47. Actor Colin Farrell is 46. Rock musician Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish) is 45. Actor Eric Christian Olsen is 45. Rock musician Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy) is 42. Country singer Casey James (TV: “American Idol”) is 40. Actor Jonathan Tucker is 40. Rapper Waka Flocka Flame is 36. Pop singer Normani Hamilton (Fifth Harmony) is 26.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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