Today is Thursday, May 31, the 152nd day of 2012. There are 214 days left in the year.
On May 31, 1962, former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel a few minutes before midnight for his role in the Holocaust. (Eichmann’s remains were cremated, the ashes scattered in the Mediterranean Sea.)
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 1889, more than 2,000 people perished when a dam break sent water rushing through Johnstown, Pa.
In 1910, the Union of South Africa was founded.
In 1911, the hull of the British liner RMS Titanic was launched from its building berth at the Port of Belfast, less than a year before the ship’s fateful maiden voyage.
In 1912, U.S. Sen. Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson was born in Everett.
In 1941, “Tobacco Road,” a play about an impoverished Southern family based on the novel by Erskine Caldwell, closed on Broadway after a run of 3,182 performances.
In 1961, South Africa became an independent republic as it withdrew from the British Commonwealth.
In 1970, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Peru claimed an estimated 20,000 lives.
In 1977, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making, was completed.
In 1985, at least 88 people were killed, more than 1,000 injured, as over 40 tornadoes swept through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Ontario, Canada, during an 8-hour period.
In 1994, the United States announced it was no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.