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On This Day: May 31

1862 - (Civil War) Battle of Seven Pines, Virginia, Opens

This battle was part of the Peninsula Campaign and was the largest conflict seen in the Eastern Theater up to this point. The 4th Wisconsin Light Artillery and 5th, 6th, 7th, 19th, 36th, 37th and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments took part in this assault.

1899 - The Gideons International Founded

On this night two salesmen, John H. Nicholson and Samuel E. Hill, crossed paths a second time, in Beaver Dam. The pair had first met eight months before in the Central Hotel in Boscobel and discussed the need for some way to provide Christian support to traveling businessmen. During this second meeting in Beaver Dam the two decided to "get right at it. Start the ball rolling and follow it up." They invited their professional contacts to an organizational meeting to be held in Janesville on July 1, 1899, at which the organization was formally named and chartered. By 1948, The Gideons had distributed over 15 million bibles world-wide. View more information about the Beginning of The Gideons International.

1908 - Actor Don Ameche Born

On this date Dominic Amici was born in Kenosha. Ameche attended Marquette University and the UW. He made his stage debut with Al Jackson Stock Company in Madison in 1928. A well-known film actor during the 1930s and 40s, Ameche won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in the film Cocoon in 1986. Other notable roles include One in a Million (1936), Alexander's Ragtime Band, In Old Chicago (both 1938), The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939), The Three Musketeers, Midnight (both 1939), Down Argentine Way (1940), Moon Over Miami (1941), Heaven Can Wait (1943), and Wing and a Prayer (1944). Ameche died of prostate cancer on December 6, 1993 in Scottsdale, Arizona. [Source: Internet Movie Database]

1988 - UW-Madison Honored for Research

On this date UW-Madison was named a Sematech Center of Excellence, "a SEMATECH-funded research center that conducts basic and applied research in science and technology areas that are beneficial to the semiconductor industry." The designation stemmed from the UW's research on x-ray lithography. [Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Engineering]