Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology

– June –

Recalling events that happened on this day in history.
Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.

Compiled by Ulli Diemer



June 1378
Revolt of the Ciompi. Low-status workers in Florence’s textile industry, known as ciompi, rise in revolt demanding the right to have a say in the governing structures of the commune and the textile industry. They take up arms and attack government buildings. On July 21, they forcibly take over the government and bring about a number of democratic reforms, including the creation of additional guilds which will give them access to political representation. (Florence’s political system at the time is based on guilds.)
After a period of time, the traditional power structure gradually reasserts itself: by 1382, all the reforms brought about by the revolt of the ciompi are eliminated.

June 1497
The Cornish rebellion of 1497. People of Cornwall in southwest Britain rebel against their oppression by the English government. The immediate grievance is the imposition of steep taxes to support Henry VII’s military adventures, but resentment of English rule over Cornwall is an underlying sentiment.
They succeed in assembling an armed force of 15,000 men, but many Cornish hold back, because they are afraid to challenge the power of the king, or because they have attained positions of privilege under English rule.
The rebels are defeated at the Battle of Deptford Bridge on June 17.

June - July 1914
U.S. forces intervene in the Dominican Republic to ‘protect American interests.’

June 1964
Freedom Summer: a campaign to register as many black voters as possible in Mississippi, a state in which nearly all blacks are excluded from voting by a range of legal and extra-legal tactics ranging from high registration fees to beatings and murder.
The campaign involves thousands of black Mississippians and more than one thousand out of state volunteers. It meets with intense resistance from white racists. During the course of the summer-long campaign, seven civil rights workers and supporters are killed, four are critically wounded, eighty are beaten, and more than 1,000 are arrested. Thirty black homes are bombed or burned, and 37 churches are burned or bombed.
The drive fails in its immediate goal of registering large numbers of voters, but provides a huge surge of support for the civil rights movement.

June 1967
A group of American Vietnam War veterans form Vietnam Veterans Against the War to voice the growing opposition among soldiers and veterans against the American war in Indochina. Membership grows to 25,000 by 1972.
In early 1971, VVAW sponsors The Winter Soldier Investigation to gather testimony from soldiers about war crimes being committed by U.S. forces in Indochina.

June 1

June 1, 1649
Start of the Sumuroy Revolt: Filipinos in Northern Samar led by Agustin Sumuroy revolt against the polo y servicio (forced labour) imposed on them by the Spanish colonial authorities. The revolt spreads to Mindanao and other regions. In the mountain regions of Samar, inhabitants set up an autonomous government free of Spanish control. After initial victories, the rebel group led by Sumuroy is defeated a year later, in 1650, and Sumuroy is killed. The rebellion continues for years in some regions, and even after armed conflict ends, resistance to Spanish rule continues.

June 1, 1848
The first issue of the radical daily newspaper Neue Rheinische Zeitung is published in Cologne. Founded by members of the Communist League, and edited by Karl Marx, the paper aligns itself with the most revolutionary and radical elements of the democratic movement.
In May 1849, the Prussian government shuts down the paper and expels Marx from Germany.

Further Reading:
Articles by Karl Marx in Neue Rheinische Zeitung
Articles by Marx & Engels in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung
Suppression of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung
Speech by Karl Marx, February 7, 1849
Speech by Friedrich Engels, February 7, 1849

Related Topics: Karl MarxRevolutionary PoliticsRevolutions of 1848-1849

June 1, 1873
Cypress Hills Massacre: A group of American hunters and whisky traders who have crossed the border into Canada attack a Nakota camp in what is now Saskatchewan, killing 23 people.

June 1, 1906
Copper miners in the Mexican town of Cananea go on strike against the American-owned Cananea Central Copper Company. Their demands include a pay increase, better working conditions, respectful treatment, an end to discrimination against Mexicans and the removal of an abusive foreman.
The company rejects their demands and calls in American gunmen from Arizona to attack the miners. More than 20 miners are killed, and more than 100 are jailed.

Further Reading:
Cananea: A Century of Internationalist Class Struggle

June 2

June 2, 1919
Anarchists led by Luigi Galleani explode eight large bombs in eight different cities in the U.S. None of the intended targets – politicians and judges – is hurt, but a nightwatchman in New York is killed, and one of the anarchists dies when the bomb he is preparing explodes prematurely.

June 2, 1924
Birth of June Callwood (1924-2007), Canadian journalist, writer, civil libertarian, and social justice activist.
Quote: “I believe in kindness. I believe it’s very communicable, just as meanness is. Even more so.”
Quote: “From the beginning of life to its end, love is the only emotion which matters.”

June 2, 1952
American steelworkers go out on strike against the leading U.S. steel companies. The strike brings steel manufacturing in the United States to a virtual halt, and has a severe impact on military production. The strike is settled on July 24, with the workers gaining a significant wage increase and winning a union shop.

June 3

June 3, 1926
Birth of Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997), American poet, political activist and leftist.
Quote: “Just because I like to suck cock doesn’t make me any less American than Jesse Helms.”

June 3, 1935
Hundreds of men board railway boxcars in Vancouver and start heading east on the On to Ottawa Trek. The Trekkers are unemployed workers, part of a group of thousands who have walked out of federal relief camps protesting dismal conditions and dangerous work. They plan to present their grievances directly to the federal government in Ottawa.
The Trekkers make it as far as Regina, where, on July 1, they are attacked by police who kill one man, injure hundreds, and prevent the Trekkers from proceeding further east.

June 3, 1957
Thousands of scientists issue a call for banning nuclear weapons testing.
Quote: “Each nuclear bomb test spreads an added burden of radioactive elements over every part of the world. Each added amount of radiation causes damage to the health of human beings all over the world and causes damage to the pool of human germ plasm such as to lead to an increase in the number of seriously defective children that will be born in future generations.... An international agreement to stop the testing of nuclear bombs now could serve as a first step toward a more general disarmament and the ultimate effective abolition of nuclear weapons, averting the possibility of a nuclear war that would be a catastrophe to all humanity.”

June 3, 1979
The Ixtoc I oil spill. A blowout in an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico causes one of the largest oil spills in history.

June 4

June 4, 1951
Birth of Mansoor Hekmat (1951-2002), Iranian Marxist, leader of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran.
Hekmat leaves Iran after the clerical revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He argues for a “return to Marx” and rejects Russian and Chinese “communism”, social democracy, and guerrilla warfare movements, as well as any connection between religion and the state.

Further Reading:
Mansoor Hekmat: Left Nationalism and Working Class Communism
Mansoor Hekmat: Islam, Children’s Rights, and the Hijab-gate of Rah-e-Kargar
Mansoor Hekmat: Islam and De-Islamisation

June 4, 1989
Units of the Chinese Army move in to clear Tiananmen Square in Beijing of the protesters who have been assembling in the square since mid-April. The protests have been calling for more government accountability, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and democratic reforms.
Soldiers fire on the people in the square and in the surrounding areas: estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to several thousand. Protest leaders are arrested and imprisoned. In China, it remains illegal to commemorate or mention the event.

June 5

June 5, 1868
Birth of James Connolly (1868-1916), Irish socialist, republican, and rebel. Connolly is one of the organizers of the Irish Citizen Army, an armed workers’ group formed in 1913 to defend strikers and trade unionists against police brutality. The group grows to adopt the political goal of an independent socialist Ireland. In 1916, the Irish Citizen Army joins the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a bourgeois nationalist group, in the Easter Uprising against British rule. The uprising fails, and Connolly is executed.

Further Reading:
Oisin Mac Giollamoir: The Ideas of James Connolly - The Single Most Important Figure in the History of the Irish Left
Peter Hadden: The Real Ideas of James Connolly
G. Schuller: James Connolly & Irish Freedom

June 5, 1878
Birth of Pancho Villa (1878-1923), Mexican rebel, active as a military leader in the Mexican revolution from 1910 to 1920.

June 5, 1898
Birth of Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), Spanish poet.

June 5 - August 5, 1912
U.S. forces occupy Havana and Oriente province in Cuba to ‘protect American interests.’

June 5, 1977
A group of Kenyan women led by Wangari Maathai start the Green Belt movement. They set out to plant thousands of trees to combat deforestation, stop soil erosion, produce wood for cooking, and generate income.
Since the movement started, more than 51 million trees have been planted, and thousands of women have been trained in skills, such as forestry, food processing, and beekeeping, that help them earn income in a way that preserves land and resources.

June 5, 1984
Saudi Arabian jet fighters, aided by intelligence from a US AWACS electronic surveillance aircraft, shoot down two Iranian planes over the Persian Gulf in an unprovoked attack.

June 6

June 6, 1683
The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, opens as the world’s first university museum.

June 6, 1752
A devastating fire destroys one-third of Moscow, including 18,000 homes.

June 6, 1829
Death of Shanawdithit, the last known living member of the Beothuk people of Newfoundland.

June 6, 1982
Israeli forces invade Lebanon, beginning the 1982 Lebanon War.

June 7

June 7, 1893
In his first act of civil disobedience, Mohandas Gandhi refuses to comply with racial segregation rules on a South African train and is forcibly ejected at Pietermaritzburg.

June 7, 1977
A Dade County, Florida referendum, initiated by Anita Bryant and other bigots, repeals a county ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This is one of the first major battles – and defeats – in the struggle for gay rights in the U.S. It is the first successful use of “child molestation” smear tactics by anti-gay forces, setting the pattern of attack for the remainder of the Seventies and into the Eighties.

June 8

June 8, 1809
Death of Thomas Paine (1737-1809), author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, author of Common Sense, The Rights of Man, The Age of Reason, and other works.

Quote: Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
Quote: The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.

Further Reading:
Thomas Paine: Common Sense
Thomas Paine: The Rights of Man
Thomas Paine: The Age of Reason
Mike Marqusee: Tom Paine, restless democrat: Profile of a radical

June 8, 1949
Publication of Nineteen Eighty-four, George Orwell’s dystopian novel. Orwell depicts a future society marked by omnipresent surveillance and state control of all aspects of life in the name of security. Official lying and constant propaganda are used to keep the population in line. History is constantly rewritten to suit the political needs of the moment; inconvenient facts disappear down the “memory hole”. The novel introduces phrases and concepts that go on to become part of everyday language, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, and Newspeak.

June 8, 1967
USS Liberty, a Navy surveillance vessel operating in international waters, is attacked by Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats. The attack kills 34 American crew members and wounds 170. The U.S. government downplays the attack in order to protect Israel.

June 9

June 9, 1905
Annalen der Physik publishes a paper by Albert Einstein, On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light. It is this paper that later wins Einstein the Nobel Prize.

June 10

June 10, 1650
The remnants of the Huron nation who have been sheltering on an island in Georgian Bay after the massacres and destruction of Huronia by the Iroquois the previous year abandon the island and flee to Quebec.

June 10, 1871
American forces intervene in Korea.

June 11

June 11, 1925
Company police attack a demonstration of striking coal miners in New Waterford, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The strikers are protesting the decision of the British Empire Steel and Coal company to shut off water and electricity to the town of New Waterford. The police kill one miner and injure many others.

June 11, 1932
Birth of Athol Fugard, South African author, actor, and director.

June 11, 1962
The first national convention of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) opens near Port Huron, Michigan.

June 12

June 12, 1868
U.S. military forces intervene in Japan ‘to protect American interests.’

June 12, 1963
Medgar Evers (1925-1963), a prominent civil rights activist in Mississippi, is murdered by a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Related Topics: Civil Rights Movement (U.S.) Political Murders

June 12, 1964
South Africa’s apartheid regime sentences Nelson Mandela to life imprisonment. Already in jail since 1962, he remains imprisoned until 1990.

Further Reading:
CIA set up Mandela

June 12, 1967
In the case of Loving vs. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court strikes down “anti-miscegenation” laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The case involves Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other.
June 12 is now celebrated in the U.S. as “Loving Day”, an unofficial celebration of interracial marriages.
In 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling, Mildred Loving said that “I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry... I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

June 13

June 13, 1866
Birth of Aby Warburg (1866-1929), bibliophile and cultural theorist, founder of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (later the Warburg Institute). As a youth, Warburg, the eldest son in his family, makes a deal with his younger brother, forfeiting his right to take over the family business in exchange for a promise from his brother to buy Aby all the books he ever wants.
Warburg’s library grows to more than 60,000 volumes, arranged, in a round room, according to his own idiosyncratic ideas of the relationship of their subject matters.

June 13, 1871
Publication of the first edition of The Civil War in France, Karl Marx’s analysis of the Paris Commune, written in the immediate aftermath of the rise and destruction of the Commune.

Further Reading:
Karl Marx: The Civil War in France
Friedrich Engels: On the 20th Anniversary of the Paris Commune
Neil Faulkner: The Paris Commune: the face of proletarian revolution

Related Topics: French HistoryParis CommuneRevolutionRevolutionary Moments

June 13, 1889
Birth of Amadeo Bordiga (1889-1970), Italian Marxist.

June 13, 1971
The New York Times publishes the first excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, provided to the newspaper by former Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg and his associate Anthony Russo.
In the late 1960s, while working as a military analyst, Ellsberg becomes increasingly disturbed by the U.S. war against Vietnam, and by the way the truth about the nature of the war is being kept from the public. He eventually decides to copy the secret documents he has access to and make them available to the press.
The papers reveal that the government has been systematically lying about the conduct and state of the war.

Further Reading/Viewing:
Noam Chomsky: The Pentagon Papers and U.S. Imperialism in South East Asia
The Most Dangerous Man in America

Related Topics: Vietnam War

June 13, 1983
The prison abolition journal Bulldozer is raided by police in Toronto.

June 14

June 14, 1919
John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown take off from St. John’s, Newfoundland at 1:45 pm in an attempt to become the first to make a non-stop aeroplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Less than 16 hours later, they land in Ireland, their goal accomplished.

June 14, 1928
Birth of Che Guevara (1928-1967), Argentine physician, author, and revolutionary, one of the key figures of the Cuban Revolution.

Further Reading:
Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution
Kit Adam Wainer: Looking at Che Guevara
Raya Dunayevskaya: The double tragedy of Che Guevara
Michael Löwy: Che Guevara in Search of a New Socialism
Venceremos: The Speeches and Writings of Che Guevara

June 14, 1940
The German army enters Paris, a little more than a month after launching its invasion of France.

June 14, 1942
Anne Frank (1929-1945) starts keeping a diary, two days after her 13th birthday. For the next two years, she chronicles her life, until, in August 1944, her family’s hiding place in Amsterdam is betrayed, and she is sent to her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Her diary is discovered and published after her death.

June 15

June 15, 1215
King John of England gives in to pressure from the English barons and reluctantly signs the Magna Carta (the “Great Charter”) which states that freemen have certain rights and liberties, that not even the king may infringe. Among the Magna Carta’s important provisions is the guarantee that no freeman may be imprisoned or punished without due process. The rights in the charter apply only to a privileged minority, but nonetheless they mark a victory against arbitrary power.

Further Reading:
The Magna Carta
Peter Linebaugh: Liberties and Commons for All
Noam Chomsky: Destroying the Commons: How the Magna Carta Became a Minor Carta

June 15, 1381
Wat Tyler, a key leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt in England, is murdered by royalists who have lured him into the open by offering to negotiate under a flag of truce. The peasants’ revolt was sparked by resistance to a poll tax, but also expresses a widespread demand for freedom.

June 15, 1767
“It was on the fifteenth of June, 1767, that Cosimo Piovasco de Rondo, my brother, sat among us for the last time. And it might have been today, I remember it so clearly.”
So begins Italo Calvino’s novel The Baron in the Trees (Il barone rampante), published in 1957. It tells the story of a youth who climbs up into a tree and refuses, for the rest of his long life, to ever return to the ground.

June 15, 1810
William Cobbett (1763-1835), English writer and reformer, is found guilty of treasonous libel after publishing an article condemning a flogging. He is sentenced to two years imprisonment in Newgate Prison, where he continues to write. When he is released, 600 people attend a dinner in his honour.

June 15, 1898
The U.S. House of Representatives passes the Newlands Resolution, a motion to seize the Republic of Hawaii and make it American territory. The Senate passes the resolution a few days later. The people of Hawaii are given no say in the matter.
Hawaii is formally annexed to the United States on August 12, 1898. On the day of annexation most Hawaiians shutter themselves at home and mourn for the end of Hawaii’s independence

June 15, 1944
The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) wins the provincial election in Saskatchewan, and becomes the first social democratic government in North America, with T.C. (Tommy) Douglas as Premier.

Further Reading:
Seymour Martin Lipset: Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth in Saskatchewan
Olenka Melynk: No Bankers in Heaven: Remembering the CCF

June 15, 1962
The first annual convention of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) adopts the Port Huron statement, which outlines its vision of social change and participatory democracy, and becomes a formative document of the 1960s “new left” in the United States.

Further Reading:
The Port Huron Statement
Kirkpatrick Sale: SDS
James Miller: Democracy is in the Streets: From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago

June 15, 2000
The Queen’s Park Police Riot. Police attack a demonstration by anti-poverty activists outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto. Mounted police charge and trample demonstrators, other police pepper-spray the crowd and gang up on and beat individual demonstrators. Twenty-nine demonstrators are arrested.
More than six years later, a judge orders the police to pay damages to demonstrators they unlawfully strip-searched after the demonstration.

Further Reading:
The social significance of Toronto’s June 15 homeless “riot”

June 16

June 16, 1816
The birth of Frankenstein: After an evening of telling ghost stories around a log fire in a house near Lake Geneva, eighteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (soon to become Mary Shelley), has a vivid dream:
“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.”
Mary begins writing a story based on her vision; choosing the title “Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus.”

Further Reading:
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
Mads Ryle: Classic book: Frankenstein

June 16, 1976
The Soweto uprising: South African police open fire on black students in Soweto who are peacefully protesting a law requiring them to learn Afrikaans, the language of the small white majority presiding over the racist regime known as apartheid. Over 150 are killed and hundreds more are injured in the shooting.

June 17

June 17, 1789
In France, the members of the Third Estate (the Commons), tiring of the fruitless manoeuvres that have followed the calling of the first Estates General since 1614, take matters into their own hands. They declare themselves the National Assembly, invite the other two estates (the aristocracy and the clergy) to join them if they wish, but make it clear that they intend to start conducting the nation’s affairs with or without them.
The king attempts to thwart them by shutting down the Salle des États, but the Assembly moves to a nearby indoor tennis court, where on June 20, they swear the Tennis Court Oath, vowing not to separate until they have given France a constitution.

June 17, 1838
The Trail of Tears: The Cherokee Nation, forcibly expelled from their lands in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, begin the 2000-kilometre forced march to the west to Oklahoma later known as the Trail of Tears. An estimated 4,000 Cherokee die en route.
This is one of a long series of forced “Indian Removals” in the United States.

June 17, 1852
Refugees welcomed by some, but not by others: A letter to a Toronto newspaper complains that “every boat arriving from the United States seems to carry fugitive slaves.”

June 17 – July 8, 1940
Portuguese consul Aristides de Sousa Mendes issues visas to thousands of mainly Jewish refugees attempting to escape France as it falls under Nazi occupation.

June 17, 1953
A workers’ uprising erupts in East Germany. It begins when construction workers in East Berlin walk out after being informed of increased quotas and pay cuts. The unrest spreads through the city and other cities and towns in Soviet-occupied East Germany.
The uprising is put down by Russian troops assisted by police. More than 500 people die; more than 5,000 are arrested.

Afterwards, Bertolt Brecht writes a poem:
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

June 17, 1972
Five intruders are caught breaking into the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate building in Washington.
The incident eventually leads to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and the trial and conviction of dozens of members of the Nixon administration.

June 17, 2006
After a police attack on striking teachers in Oaxaca on June 14, teachers and their supporters build barricades and take over the centre of Oaxaca, and, on June 17, declare themselves Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO) (the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca).
The Assembly includes teachers as well as representatives of Oaxaca’s state regions and municipalities, unions, non-governmental organizations, social organizations, and cooperatives. It encourages all Oaxacans to organize popular assemblies at every level: neighbourhoods, street blocks, unions, and towns and declares itself a “movement of the bases, not of leaders.”

June 18

June 18, 1935
The Battle of Ballantyne Pier. Dockworkers who have been locked out by the shipping companies march towards Vancouver’s Ballantyne Pier, where scabs have been brought in to unload ships. As they approach the pier, they are attacked by a massed force of hundreds of city, provincial, and federal police. Police also attack the union hall, and a first aid post set up by the women’s auxiliary.
Despite the police violence, the strike continues until December. The strike eventually fails, but lays the groundwork for the formation of a new union in 1937, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Organized as the ILWU, workers are able to win substantial gains in pay and working conditions in the 1940s.

June 18 – 19, 1975
The Toronto Liberation School launches its first series of summer courses, on Ecology, Children’s Liberation, Food, and Marxism.

June 18, 1984
The Battle of Orgreave. Striking coalminers and their supporters confront police who have been sent to help British Steel in its attempt to break the miners’ union. Between 4,000 and 8,000 police are deployed against the picketing miners. They are helped by intelligence provided by the British security service, MI5, which has infiltrated the miners’ union in order to gather intelligence to be used in defeating the strike.
Police repeatedly charge the strikers. They arrest 95 workers, but all the trials collapse after it becomes clear that police have lied and fabricated evidence. In 1991, South Yorkshire Police are forced to pay out half a million pounds in compensation to 39 miners who they had arrested.

June 18, 2004
The United States launches its first drone attack on Pakistan. The attacks continue to the present day. Other countries targetted by drone attacks are Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

June 19

June 19, 1891
Birth of John Heartfield (1891-1968), radical artist. Born Helmut Herzfeld, he changes his name to John Heartfield in 1916 to protest against the extreme nationalism prevalent in Germany. He is active in the Dada art movement, organizing the First International Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920. In the 1920s, he develops photomontage as a political art form. His work appears in communist publications in the 1920s and 1930s. He moves to Czechoslovakia after the Nazi takeover of Germany, and then flees to England in 1938.

June 19, 1914
A coal mine disaster at Hillcrest, Alberta kills 189 men.

Further Reading:
The Hillcrest Mine Disaster
Hillcrest Mine Disaster: the disaster that Canada has forgotten

June 19, 1938
Bloody Sunday in Vancouver: At 5:00 am, police launch an attack on unemployed workers, members of the Relief Project Workers’ Union, who have been occupying Vancouver’s post office and art gallery for the past month in an effort to get help for unemployed workers. The occupiers are forcibly evicted, and then beaten up with extreme brutality by police waiting outside.
When the news of the police attack becomes known later that day, between ten and fifteen thousand people turn up to protest against “police terror.”

June 19, 1953
The United States government executes Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage after a contentious and flawed trial.

June 19, 1960
Portuguese troops fire on a nationalist demonstration in Mueda, Mozambique and kill between 200 and 325 people.
Revulsion at this mass murder helps prepare the ground for the founding of the FRELIMO independence movement, which wages a war of independence until Portugal is forced to pull out in 1975.

June 20

June 20, 1789
The Tennis Court Oath: Members of the Third Estate (the Commons), ousted from the Salle des États by the French king, gather in an indoor tennis court and swear an oath vowing not to separate until they have given France a constitution.

June 20, 1995
Shell Oil gives in to international pressure and abandons its plans to dispose of the Brent Spar oil-drilling platform and its contents into the North Atlantic. The environmental group Greenpeace spearheads the effort to prevent Shell from sinking the rig, its members boarding and occupying it as a tactic to stop the deep sea disposal.

June 20, 2011
The separate groups comprising the Indignants Peoples March start out from localities across Spain and begin walking toward Madrid. The marchers plan to visit communities across the country, listen to grievances, help start people’s assemblies, and then converge in the capital.
When the marchers arrive in Madrid on July 23, they assemble to discuss experiences and plan further actions. Some form camps, many participate in the I 15-M Social Forum.

Further Viewing/Reading:
Inside 15M: 48h with the indignants

June 21

June 21
The June solstice (Summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, Winter solstice in the southern hemisphere).

June 21, 240 BCE (give or take a couple of years)
Eratosthenes, a Greek geographer, mathematician, astonomer, poet, and librarian, calculates the circumference of the earth.

Eratosthenes lived in Alexandria, where in 236 BCE he was appointed the librarian of the great library of Alexandria. He learned from travelling merchants that in the town of Syene, far to the south of Alexandria, on midday of June 21, the day of the solstice, the sun shone directly down a deep well, reflecting off the water below, something that happened on no other day of the year.

Eratosthenes knew that the sun would have to be directly overhead for this to happen, and he also knew that this never happened in Alexandria. Using the shadow of a vertical stick, he measured the sun’s angle in Alexandria on June 21, and found that it was about 7.2 degrees away from being vertical, about one-fiftieth of a circle (360 degrees). He reasoned that if he could measure the distance from Alexandria to Syene, he would then be able to calculate the earth’s circumference.

Traders told him that it took 50 days for their camels to travel from Alexandria to Syene. Eratosthenes knew that travellers riding camels could cover about one hundred stadia (about 11-and-a-half miles) in one day, so he calculated that the distance from Alexandria to Syene was about 5,000 stadia, or about 570 miles. He multiplied this figure by 50, and arrived at an estimate of about 28,500 miles for the earth’s circumference. (This is about 15% off the current measurement of about 24,900 miles).

June 21 – 25, 1905
The Lódź insurrection. Polish workers in Lódź rebel against their oppression by the Imperial Russia. The uprising is crushed by Russian troops after four days.

June 21, 1919
Bloody Saturday in Winnipeg: RCMP charge into a crowd of strikers in Winnipeg, killing two men and injuring 20.

Further Reading/Viewing:
Norman Penner: Winnipeg 1919: The strikers' own history of the Winnipeg General Strike
Six Weeks of Solidarity

June 21-22, 1922
Striking miners in Herrin, Illinois, engage in a bloody confrontation with scabs and mine guards. After three strikers are shot and killed, enraged union miners attack the mine and kill 19 strikebreakers and armed guards.

June 21, 1964
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three young Freedom Summer workers, disappear in Mississippi while helping to register Negroes to vote. Their bodies are found six weeks later, having been shot and then buried in an earthen dam. Eight members of the Ku Klux Klan eventually go to prison on federal conspiracy charges; none serves more than six years.
The killings are part of a campaign of violence by white racists determined to prevent blacks from achieving equality. During the course of the summer-long Freedom Summer campaign, seven civil rights workers and supporters are killed, four are critically wounded, eighty are beaten, and more than 1,000 are arrested. Thirty black homes are bombed or burned, and 37 churches are burned or bombed.

June 22

June 22, 1633
The Inquisition delivers its ruling on Galileo. It declares that he is “vehemently suspect of heresy” for claiming that the earth revolves around the sun, and condemns him to spend the rest of his life under house arrest.

June 22, 1941
Nazi Germany launches a surprise attack on the Soviet Union. The invasion, code-named Operation Barbarossa, is the largest military operation in history in both manpower and casualties. On the Soviet side, some 9 million soldiers and an estimated 15 million civilians die in the course of the war; on the German (Axis) side, some 5 million soldiers die. The huge death toll is attributed to factors such as brutal mistreatment of POWs and captured partisans, severe shortages of food and medical supplies in Soviet territories, and multiple atrocities by the Germans and the Soviets against the civilian population and each other. The many battles and the use of scorched earth tactics destroy agricultural land, infrastructure, and whole towns, leaving much of the population homeless and without food.

Related Topics: German History/World War IISoviet History/World War IIWorld War II

June 22, 1960
The Quebec election results in the defeat of the conservative Union Nationale after sixteen years in power. The Quebec Liberal Party under Jean Lesage comes to power and begins the “Quiet Revolution.”

Related Topics: Quebec History

June 22, 1986
Diego Maradona scores two of the most famous goals in football history to lead the Argentinean side to victory against England in the World Cup quarter-final.
The first: in a scramble in front of the goal, Maradona strikes the ball with his hand and into the net. The referee misses the infringement and allows the goal. After the game, Maradona coyly remarks that the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God” – it henceforth becomes known as the ‘Hand of God’ goal.
Four minutes later, Maradona scores again with an astonishing rush in which he single-handedly carries the ball through the entire English team. This goal is later voted the ‘Goal of the Century’: the greatest individual goal of all time.

June 23

June 23-26, 1848
The people of Paris rise in insurrection. The revolt is a response to a series of reactionary actions by the “Party of Order”, the dominant faction in the bourgeois government. On June 21, the “Party of Order” shuts down the National Workshops, initially created to provide work for unemployed workers. On June 23, 170,000 workers come out into the streets of Paris in protest and begin erecting barricades.
The government brings in General Cavaignac to put down the uprising with an army of 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers. His forces are unable at first to prevail against the resistance of the poorly armed but determined workers, but Cavaignac brings in another 100,000 soldiers, and with this huge armed force of some 125,000 soldiers, he finally crushes the uprising by June 26.

Karl Marx writes: “The Paris proletariat was forced into the June insurrection by the bourgeoisie. This sufficed to mark its doom. ... The workers were left no choice; they had to starve or let fly....They answered on June 22 with the tremendous insurrection in which the first great battle was fought between the two classes that split modern society....
It is well known how the workers, with unexampled bravery and ingenuity, without leaders, without a common plan, without means and, for the most part, lacking weapons, held in check for five days the army, the Mobile Guard, the Paris National Guard, and the National Guard that streamed in from the provinces. It is well known how the bourgeoisie compensated itself for the mortal anguish it suffered by unheard-of brutality, massacring over 3000 prisoners.”

Further Reading:
Karl Marx: The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850
Revolutions of 1848

Related Topics: Revolutions of 1848-49

June 23, 1889
Birth of Anna Akhmatova, Russian poet (1889-1966).

June 23, 1894
Birth of Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956), American biologist and sex researcher.

Related Topics: Sexual BehaviourSexuality

June 23, 1985
Air India bombing. An Air India flight from Montreal to Delhi is blown up over the Atlantic by a bomb planted on the plane. All 329 people on board die.

June 24

June 24, 1859
The Battle of Solferino in Italy brings 300,000 soldiers onto the battlefield, with French and Italian troops fighting Austrian troops. Henri Dunant, a Swiss businessman and social activist, tours the battlefield after the battle and is appalled by the suffering of the wounded soldiers left lying on the battlefield. He organizes local people to help the injured soldiers, and spends his own money to buy supplies and set up makeshift hospitals. He convinces the people in the area to provide help to all the injured, regardless of what side they were on in the battle, adopting the slogan “Tutti fratelli” (All are brothers) coined by the women of a nearby town. Afterwards, Dunant begins a campaign that leads to the Geneva Conventions and the establishment of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

June 24, 1894
The Italian anarchist Sante Geronimo Caserio stabs and kills Sadi Carnot, the President of France.

June 24, 1972
The Provincial Council of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) votes to expel the leftwing Waffle group.

Related Topics: New Democratic PartyWaffle Movement

June 24, 1980
A general strike in El Salvador protests against the death squads, military or paramilitary units which have been carrying out a vicious campaign of murders and intimidation as part of the Salvadoran government’s ‘counterinsurgency’ strategy. The government and its death squads rely on U.S. support and supplies to repress the population and crush resistance.

Related Topics: CounterinsurgencyDeath SquadsEl SalvadorMilitary/Violence Against Civilians

June 25

June 25, 1096
In one of a series of massacres and persecutions, participants in the First Crusade, on their way to attempt to conquer the ‘Holy Land’, slaughter Jews in the Rhineland area of Germany.

June 25, 1678
Elena Cornaro Piscopia becomes the first woman to be awarded a doctorate of philosophy.

June 25, 1798
The United States Congress passes the Alien Act allowing the President to deport dangerous aliens.

Related Topics: Deportation

June 25, 1876
Battle of the Little Bighorn: U.S. military forces invading native lands in order to force the inhabitants to move onto reservations and make way for white settlers are confronted by a united force of Lakota, Cheyenne, and other groups near the Little Bighorn River. The native forces win a decisive victory over the U.S. 7th Cavalry forces led by George Armstrong Custer.

June 25, 1903
Birth of George Orwell (Eric Blair), author and socialist. Orwell’s notable works include Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier, Homage to Catalonia (about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War), Animal Farm, and Nineteen Eighty-Four. He also wrote many essays and newspaper columns.

“Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.”
“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

June 25, 1950
Start of the Korean War.

June 25, 1967
Heavyweight boxing champion Mohammed Ali is found guilty of refusing induction into the armed forces. The boxing authorities pile on as well: they strip Ali of his title and take away his boxing license.
Ali explains his refusal to report for military service as follows:
“No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end.”
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

June 25, 1978
240,000 people march in San Francisco, California, to oppose a proposed anti-gay law which would allow school boards to ban gay and lesbian teachers. The proposition is rejected in November by 58% of voters.

Related Topics: Anti-DiscriminationGay & Lesbian Rights

June 26

June 26, 1848
The uprising of the Paris workers which began on June 23 is finally defeated by the massed armed forces of the French state. So heroic and determined was the resistance of the poorly armed workers that the French government was forced to bring military from across the entire country to Paris to defeat them. In the end, a force of 125,000 soldiers is needed to put down the uprising, which ends in a mass slaughter of prisoners.

June 26, 1869
Birth of Martin Andersen Nexo (1869-1954), Danish author and socialist.
Nexo is the first major Danish writer to depict the working class in his writings. Nexo starts out as an industrial worker, attends a folk school, and then works as a journalist. He becomes a member of the Social Democratic movement, and then, after the collapse of the Second International in the face of war, joins the Communist Party.
Pelle Erobreren (Pelle the Conqueror), his best-known work, is the basis of two films.

June 26, 1918
Socialist Eugene Debs is arrested for an anti-war speech he gave in Canton, Ohio, ten days earlier. He is charged with “uttering words intended to cause insubordination and disloyalty within the armed forces of the United States, to incite resistance to the war, and to promote the cause of Germany.”
In his speech, Debs said: “And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose – especially their lives.”

Related Topics: Anti-War Movement

June 26, 1919
End of the Winnipeg General Strike.

Related Topics: General StrikesLabour HistoryStrikes/CanadianWorkers’ History

June 26, 1955
The South African Freedom Charter is adopted at the Congress of the People at Kliptown near Johannesburg. Declaring its opposition to apartheid, it states: “We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.”

Related Topics: ApartheidSouth Africa

June 26, 1956
Federal agents raid Wilhelm Reich’s home and set about destroying what they call ‘promotional materials’ for his controversial theories about orgone energy, including his books. They complete the job on August 23, burning six tons of his books, journals, and papers in an incinerator. The burned materials include copies of his books The Sexual Revolution, Character Analysis, and The Mass Psychology of Fascism.
A few months later, on March 12, 1957, Reich is imprisoned for violating the terms of an injunction against the interstate shipment of his ‘orgone accumulator’ devices and associated literature. He dies in prison in November 1957.

Further Reading:
Wilhelm Reich: The Mass Psychology of Fascism
Wilhelm Reich: Sex-Pol Essays 1929-1934
Wilhelm Reich: The Sexual Revolution
Wilhelm Reich: What is Class Consciousness?
Paul Robinson: The Freudian Left: Wilhelm Reich, Geza Roheim, Herbert Marcuse
Richard King: The Party of Eros: Radical Social Thought and the Realm of Freedom
Bertell Ollman: Social and Sexual Revolution: Essays on Marx and Reich

June 27

June 27, 1869
Birth of Emma Goldman (1869-1940), anarchist, revoluntary, writer.

Further Reading:
Emma Goldman: Anarchism: What It Really Stands For
Red Emma Speaks: Selected Writings and Speeches by Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman: Voice of a Rebel

June 27, 1880
Birth of Helen Keller (1880-1968), American author, lecturer, and socialist.

Further Reading:
Helen Keller: How I Became a Socialist

June 27, 1905
Rebellion breaks out on the Battleship Potemkin. It begins spontaneously when sailors refuse to eat a meal of borscht made from rotten meat infested with maggots. Officers commanded by Ippolit Giliarovsky, the ship’s second in command, threaten to shoot crew members if they persist in their refusal to eat the vile stew. He shoots and mortally injures one crew member -- and then the sailors revolt. They kill Giliarovsky and six other officers, and take over the ship. The sailors elect a ship’s committee of 25 men who they delegate to run the ship. They decide to raise a red flag and head for the port of Odessa, where a general strike is under way.
The mutiny eventually comes to a conclusion when the sailors sail the ship to Romania. Its impact is felt across Russia: Lenin later calls it the “dress rehearsal” for the revolution of 1917.

June 27 - July 8, 1905
Founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWw): Around 200 trade unionists, socialists, and anarchists gather in a congress in Chicago to found a radical alternative to the American Federation of Labor, which restricts itself to organizing craft workers on the basis of narrow interests. The new union sets itself the goal of organizing broad-based industrial unions encompassing all workers, with the long-term goal of overthrowing the capitalist system entirely.

June 27, 1915
Birth of Grace Lee Boggs, American radical activist and writer.

Further Reading:
Grace Lee Boggs: The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century
Living by the Clock of the World: Grace Lee Boggs’ Call for Visionary Organizing

June 27, 1954
In Guatemala, a military coup directed and funded by the CIA forces President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman from office. Arbenz had won the country’s first election under universal suffrage. The U.S. and the Guatemalan elite want Arbenz out because he is moving to bring about land reform which threatens the power of the United Fruit Company and the local elite. Following the coup d’etat, hundreds of Guatemalans are rounded up and killed. Between 1954 and 1990, the security forces of successive U.S.-supported military regimes murder more than 100,000 Guatemalans, many of them indigenous people.

Related Topics: CIACoupsGuatemalaInterventionLand Reform

June 27, 1980
An Italian passenger plane is shot down over the Tyrrehian Sea about 40 minutes after taking off from Bologna. The identity of whoever shot down the plane is never officially established, but the leading theory is that it was shot down by NATO forces, likely French.

June 27, 1986
The International Court of Justice (‘World Court’) rules that the United States violated international law through its use of force against Nicaragua. This included a trade embargo, the mining of harbours and bombing of airfields, as well as furnishing financial, military and logistical support to the so-called Contra insurgents. The Contras’ goal was to overthrow Nicaragua’s popular left-wing government. The Court also rules that the U.S. should compensate Nicaragua financially. The United States ignores the judgement, as it normally does when any international body makes a ruling it doesn’t like.

Related Topics: International Court of JusticeInterventionNicaraguaNicaraguan RevolutionU.S. ImperialismU.S. Foreign PolicyWorld Court

June 28

June 28, 1914
The Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated by a Bosnian Serb nationalist in Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary seizes on the opportunity presented by the assassination to make a series of demands on the government of Serbia, which it claims has failed to prevent terrorist plots against Austria-Hungary.
The demands are designed to weaken Serbia and undermine its independence. Serbia accepts most of the demands, but the ‘War Party’ in Vienna sees the situation as an excellent opportunity to launch a war which the Austrian military has long been planning for, and rejects the Serbian concessions.
On July 28, Austria declares war on Serbia. Within days, the other major imperialist powers – Russia, France, Britain, and Germany – have entered the war. The Great War which ensues lasts for more than four years. By the time it ends, more than sixteen million people will have died, and more than 20 million will have been wounded.

June 28, 1916
50,000 German workers engage in a one-day strike to support the Socialist anti-war leader Karl Liebknecht, charged with sedition for his opposition to the government and the war.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementStrikes

June 28, 1920
In the midst of the Irish struggle for independence, Irish soldiers serving in the British Army in the Punjab mutiny, declaring they will refuse to take orders from British officers until the British withdraw from Ireland. Some 400 soldiers mutiny. They are subsequently court-martialled; one is executed, others are given long prison sentences.

June 28, 1949
Yugoslavia is expelled from the Cominform.

June 28-30, 1956
Workers at the Cegielski Factories in Poznan, Poland walk out, protesting pay cuts and poor working conditions. Workers from other workplaces join them, as do students from local schools. By late morning, 100,000 people have gathered in a central square.
Police move in to attack the demonstrators, and fighting breaks out that continues over the next two days. Several dozen people are killed, and about 600 are injured. Persecution of the most active participants continues for years afterwards.
The memory of the events – including the image of a supposedly ‘Communist’ regime attacking workers who are singing The Internationale and holding banners reading “We demand bread” – becomes an inspiration to other attempts by Polish workers to defend their rights.

June 28, 1969
Patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, explode in resentment at continuous anti-homosexual harassment by New York City police. They start to fight back, throwing beer cans and bricks and anything else handy. Disturbances continue for the next several nights.
One participant recalls: “We all had a collective feeling like we’d had enough of this kind of shit. It wasn’t anything tangible anybody said to anyone else, it was just kind of like everything over the years had come to a head on that one particular night in the one particular place, and it was not an organized demonstration.... Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us.... All kinds of people, all different reasons, but mostly it was total outrage, anger, sorrow, everything combined.”
In the aftermath, people come together in meetings to talk about organizing to fight for their rights in an ongoing way. The event comes to be seen as the birth of the modern gay rights movement in the United States.

Related Topics: Gay Rights

June 29

June 29, 1905
Eugene Debs gives a speech at the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World in Chicago.
Quote: “We know that without solidarity nothing is possible, that with it nothing is impossible. ”

Further Reading:
Eugene V. Debs: Speech at the Founding Convention of the Industrial Workers of the World

June 29, 1919
Striking meat-workers in Townsville, Australia clash with police; nine people are wounded in an exchange of gunshots.

Related Topics: Police ViolenceStrikes

June 29, 1941
Birth of Stokely Carmichael (1941-1998), Trinidadian-American black activist.

June 29, 1956
The Soviet Union sends tanks to Poznan, Poland, to help put down anti-government demonstrations.

Related Topics: Intervention

June 29, 1958
Brazil wins the football World Cup with the help of two goals by the youngest player in the tournament, a skinny 17-year-old kid who goes by the name of Pele.

June 29, 1963
Protesters organize a mass ‘walk-on’ (trespass) at a chemical and biological warfare facility in Porton Down, England.

Related Topics: Biological & Chemical WeaponsWeapons of Mass Destruction

June 29, 1966
The U.S. Air Force bombs fuel storage facilities near Hanoi, North Vietnam.

Related Topics: BombingVietnam War

June 29, 1982
Israel invades Lebanon.

Related Topics: IsraelLebanon

June 30

June 30, 1893
Birth of Harold Laski (1893-1950), Fabian socialist, co-founder of the Left Book Club.

June 30, 1966
Three U.S. soldiers, who become known as the “Fort Hood Three”, refuse to be sent to Vietnam, denouncing the war as “immoral, illegal, and unjust.” The three, James Johnson, Dennis Mora, and David Samas, are arrested, court-martialed, and imprisoned. They are part of a flood of resistance in the military: the Pentagon reports 503,926 ‘incidents of desertion’ between 1966 and 1971.

Related Topics: U.S. MilitaryVietnam War

June 30, 2011
Massive student demonstrations take place in Chile, with 100,000 to 200,000 demonstrators.



Seeds of Fire is compiled for Connexions by Ulli Diemer. References used include the Connexions Library generally, and Connexipedia specifically, Wikipedia, Sources, the Peace History feature on, the books and articles of Noam Chomsky and William Blum (marvellous antidotes to historical amnesia), and a wide, wide variety of other sources.

For more information about some of the events and people mentioned, see the following pages in Connexipedia and in the Connexions Subject Index:

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Organizations & Movements Listed in Connexipedia
Persons Listed in Connexipedia
History Focus page
Oral History and Memoirs Focus page
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Aboriginal History
Agricultural History
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Art History
Black History & Identity
Canadian History
Capitalism/History of
Chinese History
Economic History
Egyptian Revolt 2011
European History
French History
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Gay & Lesbian History
General Strikes
German History
German History/World War II
Greece/Modern History
History/Twentieth Century
Hungarian Revolution 1956
Immigrant History
Irish History
Jewish History
Killings by Police
Labour History
Left History
Marxist Theory of Revolution
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Reference Sources/Chronologies
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Russian History
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Revolutionary Moments
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SOURCES: History experts & sources
Soviet History
Spanish Civil War
State-sponsored Violence
State Violence
United States History
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Women’s History
Workers’ History

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