On This Day: London's Big Ben rings out for first time

On May 31, 1859, construction concluded and bells rang out for the first time from London's Big Ben clock tower.

By UPI Staff

On this date in history:

In 1790, President George Washington signed a bill creating the first U.S. copyright law.


In 1859, construction concluded and bells rang out for the first time from London's Big Ben clock tower.

In 1889, a flood in Johnstown, Pa., left more than 2,200 people dead.

In 1902, Britain and South Africa signed a peace treaty ending the Boer War.

In 1916, the Battle of Verdun passed the 100-day mark. It would continue for another 200 days, amassing a casualty list of an estimated 800,000 soldiers dead, injured or missing.

In 1940, a thick fog hanging over the English Channel prevented the German Luftwaffe from flying missions against evacuating Allied troops from Dunkirk.

Troops evacuated from Dunkirk on a destroyer about to berth at Dover, England, on May 31, 1940. File Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

In 1985, seven federally insured banks in Arkansas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Oregon were closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It was a single-day record for closings since the FDIC was founded in 1934.


In 1996, Israeli voters elected opposition Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

In 2003, Eric Robert Rudolph, the long-sought fugitive in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing and attacks on abortion clinics and a gay nightclub, was arrested while rummaging through a dumpster in North Carolina. Rudolph, whose bombings killed two people and injured many others, was sentenced to four life terms in prison.

In 2005, Mark Felt admitted that, while No. 2 man in the FBI, he was "Deep Throat," the shadowy contact whose help to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on the 1972 Watergate break-in led to U.S. President Richard Nixon's resignation.

File Photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI

In 2012, John Edwards of North Carolina, former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, was acquitted on a charge of taking illegal campaign contributions, and a judge declared a mistrial on five other charges against him.


In 2013, actress Jean Stapleton, known to millions of viewers as Edith Bunker in the hit 1970s sitcom All in the Family, died at age 90 in New York City.

In 2014, U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, captured in Afghanistan nearly five years earlier, was released by the Taliban in exchange for five detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. In March 2015, the Army announced that Bergdahl had been charged with desertion.

In 2018, Danish lawmakers voted to ban face veils worn by Muslim women, including niqabs and burqas.

File Photo by David Silpa/UPI

Latest Headlines