Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology
– July –
Recalling events that happened on this day in history. Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.
Compiled by Ulli Diemer
July 1840 American naval forces attack Fiji islanders to punish them for interfering with the American surveying parties who have landed on the islands. The islanders have been resisting the surveys because they know the U.S. intends to seize the land being surveyed.
July 1847 Middle-class reformers in France start holding banquets to circumvent a ban on political meetings. The ‘campaign of banquets’ provides an outlet for political criticism of the regime. The campaign continues until all banquets are outlawed in February 1848.
Related Topics: Revolutions of 1848-49
July 1899 The Newsboys Strike of 1899. Newspaper boys in New York are responsible for distributing newspapers to the public, standing on street corners and walking the streets hawking newspapers for sale. Most of them exist in conditions of extreme poverty; many live on the streets. The newspapers treat them as independent contractors rather than employees; the boys are made to buy the newspapers they sell, and are not allowed to return unsold copies. After the New York World and the New York Morning Journal, owned by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, increase the amount the boys have to pay for each newspaper, a large number of newsboys agree to stop selling the World and the Journal. The strikers demonstrate on the Brooklyn Bridge, bringing traffic to a halt, and hold large rallies with up to 5,000 newsboys. The newspaper owners resort to violence to try to break the strike. Eventually the newspaper owners give in on one of the boys’ key demands: they agree to buy back unsold newspapers, and the strike ends.
July 1933 The newly formed Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) holds its convention in Regina, Saskatchewan, and adopts the Regina Manifesto. The manifesto is an attempt to reconcile the views of the different elements that have come together to form the CCF: labour organizations, farmers, Christian socialists, and social-democratic intellectuals. It calls for socialization of banks and key industries in the transportation, communications, and electrical sectors, and proclaims that “No C.C.F. Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put into operation the full programme of socialized planning which will lead to the establishment in Canada of the Cooperative Commonwealth.” However, the programme it lays out, emphasizing top-down reforms to bring about a planned economy, reflects a social-democratic vision of gradual evolutionary change, not a vision of fundamental change brought about by a mass movement.
Selected Manifestos, Political Statements, Programs, Visions
July 1977 The Canadian Women’s Movement Archives are founded in Toronto.
July 1997 Financial speculators trigger a major international capitalist crisis when they launch a speculative attack on the currency of Thailand. The Thai currency collapses, and what quickly becomes the Asian financial crisis spreads to Indonesia and South Korea, as well as to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Laos and the Philippines. The International Monetary Fund steps in and forces affected governments to cut spending on social services in order to bail out the banks.
July 1, 965 Birth of Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn alHasan ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen), in Basra, scientist, polymath, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. His books, written in Arabic, are translated into Latin, Hebrew, and other languages, and are an important influence on the work of Islamic and European scientists.
Related Topics: Scientists
July 1, 1818 Birth of Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865), physician and medical pioneer. Semmelweis proposes the radical idea that physicians assisting at childbirth should first disinfect their hands; he believes this will greatly reduce the incidence of puerperal fever, a leading cause of death for women giving birth. Semmelweis comes to this idea upon observing that women giving birth at home had a significantly lower incidence of puerperal fever than women giving birth in hospitals. At the time, it was common practice for physicians to go straight from treating ill patients, or dissecting a cadaver, to a woman giving birth. Semmelweis’ idea is fiercely opposed by the medical establishment, and Semmelweis himself is ostracized. One leading obstetrician and medical educator sums up the common attitude in his statement: “Doctors are gentlemen, and gentlemen’s hands are clean.” In 1865, Semmelweis is forcibly confined to a mental institution, where he is tortured and beaten. He dies within days as a result of his injuries. After his death, his ideas are found to be correct, and universally adopted.
July 1, 1923 During a steelworkers’ strike in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, mounted provincial police brutally attack a crowd of women and children in what becomes known as Bloody Sunday.
July 1, 1935 RCMP and local police attack a public meeting to support the On-to-Ottawa Trek in Regina. The Trekkers, unemployed men protesting dismal conditions in federal relief camps, are heading east to Ottawa to present their grievances to the federal government. Hundreds of trekkers and supporters are injured in the police attack; at least one dies later from his injuries. Hospital records are subsequently altered to conceal the cause of injuries and death. The city’s exhibition grounds, where the Trekkers are staying, are surrounded by police armed with revolvers and machine guns who erect barbed wire, and prevent any food or water from being brought in. Saskatchewan Premier Gardiner sends a telegram to Prime Minister Bennett accusing the police of “instigating a riot” and asking that the men be fed and allowed to leave; Bennett agrees. The events help to discredit Bennett’s Conservative government, which is defeated in the election later that year.
July 1, 1962 The Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Bill, providing universal medical insurance, comes into effect. The medical profession reacts with horror: most doctors go on strike. The CCF government responds by bringing in doctors from Britain and the United States, and setting up community health centres. The strike fails; less than a month later most doctors have returned to work. By 1965, polls show that most doctors, as well as the public, like the medicare program.
Related Topics: Medicare
July 1, 1977 Native activist Leonard Peltier is convicted – despite a lack of evidence – in the deaths of two FBI agents who were engaged in an attack on an American Indian Movement encampment. He still remains in jail, one of the longest-imprisoned political prisoners in the world.
July 2, 1809 Alarmed by the growing encroachment of whites squatting on Native American lands, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh issues a call to all Indians to unite and resist. By 1810, he has organized the Ohio Valley Confederacy, which unites Indians from the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Winnebago, Menominee, Ottawa, and Wyandotte nations. For several years, Tecumseh’s Indian Confederacy successfully delays further white settlement in the region.
Related Topics: Aboriginal History
July 2, 1839 Captive Africans on the Cuban slave ship Amistad, led by Joseph Cinquè (a Mende from what is now Sierra Leone), mutiny against their captors, kill the captain and the cook, and seize control of the schooner.
Related Topics: Slave Revolts
July 2, 1888 The London matchgirls strike: 1,400 women and girls working in the Bryant and May match factory in London go out on strike. The trigger for the walkout is the firing of a worker, but the grievances have to do with low pay and terrible, unhealthy working conditions. The strike gathers widespread public support. It ends within three weeks when the company offers concessions.
Related Topics: Strikes
July 2, 1925 Birth of Medgar Evers (1925-1963), American civil rights activist.
Related Topics: Civil Rights Movement (U.S.)
July 3, 1835 Children employed in the silk mills at Paterson, New Jersey, go on strike, asking for an eleven-hour workday and a six-day workweek rather than 12-14 hour days. With the help of adults, they win a compromise settlement of a 69-hour week.
July 3, 1988 The USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser, shoots down Iran Air Flight 655. All of the 290 people aboard the Airbus 300 are killed. The Iranian plane is a regularly scheduled passenger flight, originating in Tehran, en route to Dubai, following its normal route; it is inside Iranian air space when the American warship, which has sailed into Iranian territorial waters, shoots it down. The U.S. government afterwards says the attack was a ‘mistake’, but refuses to apologize. It eventually agrees to pay compensation to the families of those it killed.
July 4, 1776
Rebellious American colonists declare their independence from Britain. Their Declaration of Independence asserts the right and duty of a people to “alter or abolish” any government which is abusive and unjust.
Related Topics: American Revolution
July 4, 1829 Speaking at Boston’s Park Street Church, newspaper editor and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison speaks on “Dangers to the Nation.” Garrison decries the hypocrisy of celebrating the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that “All men are created equal” while two million African Americans are in bondage. He proposes four propositions to guide the abolitionist movement: 1. Above all others, slaves in America deserve “the prayers, and sympathies, and charities of the American people.” 2. Non-slave-holding states are “constitutionally involved in the guilt of slavery,” and are obligated “to assist in its overthrow.” 3. There is no valid legal or religious justification for the preservation of slavery. 4. The “colored population” of America should be freed, given an education, and accepted as equal citizens with whites.
William Lloyd Garrison: Address to the Colonization Society
July 5, 1857 Birth of Clara Zetkin (1857-1933), a German Marxist and leading activist in the socialist women’s movement and the labour movement. In August 1910, at a meeting of an International Women’s Conference preceding a meeting of the Socialist International, Zetkin proposes the establishment of an International Women’s Day. The proposal is accepted and the following year, on 18 March, 1911, IWD is marked for the first time, by over one million people. Zetkin breaks with the SPD over its support for the German state in the First World War, and is arrested several times for her anti-war activism. She is among the founders of the anti-war Independent Socialist Party in 1917, and of the Spactacist League in 1918. When Hitler takes power, Zetkin goes into exile, and dies a few months later at the age of 75.
Clara Zetkin: Only in Conjunction With the Proletarian Woman Will Socialism Be Victorious
July 5, 1934 On “Bloody Thursday,” police armed with machine guns open fire against striking longshoremen and their supporters, killing two, wounding 32 more by gunfire, and injuring 75 others at Rincon Hill in San Francisco.
July 6, 1892 Striking steelworkers at Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead Steel Company engage in a fierce battle with a private army of thugs brought in by the Pinkerton Detective Agency to break the strike. Nine strikers and seven Pinkerton agents are killed; 11 strikers and 12 Pinkerton agents are wounded. The battle ends with the surrender of the Pinkerton thugs.
July 6 - August 7, 1894 American forces invade Nicaragua to ‘protect American interests.’
July 6, 1907 Birth of Frida Kahlo, Mexican artist and communist.
July 6, 1919 The Institut fär Sexualwissenschaft is founded in Berlin by Magnus Hirschfeld. It continues its work until May 6, 1933, when the Institute and its libraries of thousands of books are destroyed by the Nazis.
July 6, 1944 Irene Morgan, a 28-year-old black woman, is arrested in Virginia for refusing to give up her seat on an interstate bus to a white person. The driver stops the bus and summons the sheriff, who tries to arrest Morgan; she responds by kicking the sheriff in the balls. Morgan’s subsequent conviction for violating segregation laws (Jim Crow laws) is eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, in a decision striking down state laws requiring segregation in interstate transportation.
July 6, 1965 Hundreds of students in Berkeley, California, attempt to block trains carrying troops destined for Vietnam.
July 7, 1903 Labour organizer Mother Jones leads the “March of the Mill Children” over 100 miles from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island summer home, to publicize the harsh conditions of child labour and to demand a 55-hour work week.
Related Topics: Child Labour
July 7, 1912 Grabow Riot. Unionized timber workers in Louisiana, members of the Industrial Workers of the World, confront mill owners and their agents near Grabow (Graybow). Four men die in the violent clash, and some 50 are wounded.
Related Topics: Labour History
July 7, 1979 2,000 American Indian activists and anti-nuclear demonstrators marched through the Black Hills of western South Dakota to protest the development of uranium mines on native lands.
July 8, 1853 An American naval squadron under Commander Matthew Perry sails into Japanese waters and threatens to bombard Japanese cities unless Japan agrees to a treaty of “peace and friendship” which will give American business interests access to Japan. Unable to stand up to American military power, the Japanese government submits to American ‘friendship’, but also resolves to build up its own industry and military capabilities.
July 8, 1867 Birth of Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), German artist, known especially for her portrayals of the victims of poverty and war.
July 8, 1885 Birth of Ernst Bloch (1885-1977), German Marxist philosopher and utopian thinker.
Reclaiming Utopia: The Legacy of Ernst Bloch
July 8, 1900 The Fraser River Fishermen’s Strike. Fishermen who work for 47 salmon canneries along the lower Fraser River go on strike, asking for a season-long minimum price of 25 cents. Under the existing system, the price canneries pay drops as catches increase. The fishermen include whites, natives, and Japanese – the canners association, backed by the provincial government, tries to sew division among them while at the same time bringing out police and militia to break the strike by force. The strikers hold out, and, by the end of July, achieve a season’s price that is less than they were asking, but still a substantial improvement over the previous arrangement.
July 8, 1917 The Women’s Peace Crusade protests against the first World War in Glasgow, Scotland. Processions from two sides of the city, accompanied by bands and banners, wind their way toward the Glasgow Green where they merge into one demonstration of some 14,000 people.
Related Topics: Anti-War Movement
July 9-15, 1854 American naval forces bombard and burn the town of San Juan del Norte in Nicaragua to avenge an ‘insult’ to the American minister to Nicaragua.
July 9, 1905 Birth of Myles Horton (1905-1990), radical educator and socialist, founder of the Highlander Folk School, which played an important role in teaching organizers and activists in the American Civil Rights Movement.
July 9, 1948 With the fall of the ‘color bar’ which prevented blacks from playing in baseball’s segregated ‘major leagues’, 42-yer-old Satchel Paige, a star of the Negro Leagues since the 1920s, becomes the first black pitcher in the American League. Considered by many to be the best pitcher of all time, Paige pitches his last game in major league baseball in 1965, at the age of 59, playing for the Kansas City Athletics.
July 9, 1955 The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, signed by Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, and nine other scientists, warns that the development of weapons of mass destruction has created a choice between war and survival of the human species. The Manifesto concludes with these words: “As human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood, both in the East and in the West. There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.”
July 10, 1902 Birth of Nicolas Guillen (1902-1989), Cuban poet, writer, and political activist.
July 10, 1904
Rosa Luxemburg publishes her influential essay, “Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy”, sharply criticizing Lenin’s concept of a top-down, highly centralized vanguard party.
Rosa Luxemburg: Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy
July 10, 1985 French agents attack the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand, killing one person on board and sinking the ship. French President Francois Mitterand authorized the terrorist attack because Greenpeace was planning to protest France’s nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific.
July 11, 1968 The American Indian Movement (AIM) is founded in Minneapolis to organize against widespread and persistent poverty among native Americans, and unjust treatment from all levels of government.
July 11, 1969 A U.S. appeal court overturns the convictions of Dr. Benjamin Spock and Michael Ferber, originally found guilty of conspiring to counsel evasion of the military draft in 1968. The judges rule that the defendants’ activities opposing the Vietnam War are covered by the First Amendment right to free speech.
July 11, 1990 The Oka crisis begins. The crisis develops from a local dispute between the town of Oka and the Mohawk community of Kanesatake. The town of Oka was developing plans to expand a golf course and residential development onto land which had traditionally been used by the Mohawk. It includes pineland and a burial ground, marked by standing tombstones. To protest against a court decision to allow the golf course construction to proceed, some members of the Mohawk community erect a barricade blocking access to the area. On July 11, the mayor asks the Surete du Quebec (SQ), Quebec’s provincial police force, to intervene against the Mohawk protest. A police emergency response team swiftly attacks the barricade by deploying tear gas canisters and flash bang grenades in an attempt to create confusion in the Mohawk ranks. It is unclear whether the police or Mohawks open fire first, but after a 15-minute gun battle, the police fall back, abandoning six cruisers and a bulldozer. One of the attacking police officers is killed. Subsequently the Canadian army is called in to police the barricades. The blockade and crisis continue until September 26, when the protesters dismantle their barricades after the town cancels the golf course expansion.
July 11, 2000 Canadian gynecologist Dr. Garson Romalis is stabbed by an anti-abortion terrorist in the lobby of his clinic in Vancouver.
July 12, 1450 Jack Cade, leader of a popular revolt against the tyrannical rule of King Henry VI of England, is killed. The king had promised to pardon those who had rebelled and to institute reforms they had sought, but broke his promises and took bloody vengeance as soon as the rebels laid down their arms.
July 12, 1562 The Spanish Bishop Fray Diego de Landa burns the sacred books of the Maya in a ceremony designed to destroy the traditional religious beliefs of the Maya. The burning is part of an Inquisition which also includes the persecution and torture of people suspected of not being true Christians.
July 12, 1812 An American force under General William Hull crosses the Detroit River and launches an invasion of Canada.
July 12, 1817 Birth of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American author, naturalist, and abolitionist. Thoreau’s essay Civil Disobedience, which makes a strong case for resisting the acts of an unjust state, was an important influence on the thinking of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Henry David Thoreau: Resistance to Civil Government
July 12, 1892 Militia move in to break a strike against Carnegie Steel Corp. in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Strikers, protesting wage cuts of 18-26%, suffer seven deaths. Pennsylvania National Guardsmen arrive to protect strikebreakers and remain until October. The strike is called off on November 20 and workers - except those blacklisted by the company - return to work on the company's terms.
July 12, 1904
Birth of Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), Chilean poet and socialist.
July 12, 1917 The Bisbee Deportation: A sheriff’s posse in Bisbee, Arizona, rounds up 1,200 striking copper miners at gunpoint, ships them out of town on a freight train, and dumps them in the desert without water or food. One miner, Jim Brew, is murdered by company-hired vigilantes during the ‘deportation’.
July 12, 1966 Riots break out in the Hough area of Cleveland. It starts when a local business refuses to serve blacks, protestors gather, and the hated Cleveland police, known for their racism and brutality, move in to ‘defuse the situation’. Underlying causes include increasing unemployment, slum housing owned by outside landlords who refuse to make repairs, and hatred for the police. The riots go on for a week. Four blacks are killed, more than 30 people are critically injured.
July 12, 1967 Five days of black rioting begin in Newark, New Jersey, leading to 26 deaths, and injuries to 1,500 people. Over 1,400 people are arrested.
July 12, 2007 An American helicopter fires on a group of journalists in Baghdad, injuring them, and then fires on a van that stops to help the injured men. Two children in the van are wounded and their father is killed. A video showing the event, which also records the soldiers in the helicopter laughing and cheering as they fire away at the unarmed civilians, comes into the possession of Bradley Manning, an American soldier with a conscience. Manning eventually releases the video, along with other evidence of crimes committed by the U.S. military, to Wikileaks, which makes the material public. Manning is subsequently arrested by the U.S. military, imprisoned, tortured, subjected to a show trial, and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
July 13, 1793 The French revolutionary and radical democrat Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), is assassinated by a royalist sympathizer. A physician and scientist, Marat threw himself into full-time political activity upon the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. He published his own paper, L’Ami du peuple (“The Friend of the People”) which advocated a consistently radical position.
Related Topics: French Revolution
July 14, 1789
Storming of the Bastille. Demonstrators in Paris attack the hated Bastille prison, symbol of royal authority in Paris, which is known to store a large quantity of arms and ammunition. A crowd numbering perhaps one thousand people surrounds the Bastille in the morning, demanding the surrender of the prison and the release of the arms stored inside. In the afternoon, negotiations break down and fighting begins. By late afternoon, the garrison surrenders and the people take possession. The successful insurrection becomes the flashpoint of the revolution that spreads across France.
Related Topics: French Revolution
July 14, 1877 Start of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. The strike is in response to the cutting of wages for the second time in a year by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O). Striking workers refuse to allow any of the stock to roll until this second wage cut is revoked. The governor sends in state militia units to restore train service, but the soldiers refuse to use force against the strikers and the governor calls for federal troops.
Related Topics: Strikes/U.S.
July 14 – 18, 1882 American forces intervene in Egypt.
July 14, 1889 Founding of the Second International, an international organization of socialist and labour parties.
Related Topics: Second International
Related Topics: Anti-Slavery
July 14, 1912 Birth of Woody Guthrie, American songwriter and folk musician.
July 14, 1970 150 members and supporters of the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican radical group, occupy the dilapidated Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, New York City. They present a set of demands for better health care and community control.
The Lincoln Hospital Offensive
July 14, 1976 Canadian Members of Parliament vote to abolish capital punishment.
Related Topics: Capital Punishment
July 14, 2011 People set up tents in a square in Tel Aviv to protest a lack of affordable housing. Others quickly join in to express their concern about a variety of social justice issues. On July 23 tens of thousands demonstrate in Tel Aviv. The protests continue into the fall, and push the government to promise action on housing and other issues.
July 15, 1381 John Ball, a radical English priest and a leader of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, is executed by the state. Quote: “When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.”
Related Topics: Peasant Uprisings
July 15, 1858 Birth of Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), a leader of the British suffragette movement which fought for the vote for women.
July 15, 1892 Birth of Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German literary critic, philosopher, and Marxist.
July 15, 1978 The Longest Walk, a peaceful transcontinental trek for Native American justice, which had begun with a few hundred departing Alcatraz Island, California, ends this day when the walkers arrive in Washington, D.C. accompanied by 30,000 marchers. They are calling attention to the ongoing problems plaguing Indian communities throughout the Americas: lack of jobs, housing, health care, as well as dozens of pieces of legislation before Congress canceling treaty obligations of the U.S. government toward various Indian tribes. They submit petitions signed by one-and-a-half million Americans to President Jimmy Carter.
July 16, 1099 Christian Crusaders storm Jerusalem and slaughter thousands of Muslims and Jews.
July 16, 1877 Railway workers on the Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio Railroads refuse to work, and block scabs from taking their jobs. They manage to halt all railroad traffic at the Camden Junction just outside of Baltimore. The railroad companies had cut wages and shortened the workweek. After a second pay cut in June, Pennsylvania RR announced that the same number of workers would be expected to service twice as many trains. The work stoppage spreads west and eventually becomes the first nationwide strike in the United States.
Related Topics: Strikes/U.S.
July 16, 1979 The largest release of radioactive material in U.S. history occurs in the territory of the Navajo Nation. More than 1200 metric tons of uranium tailings (mining waste) and 378 million litres of radioactive water burst through a mud containment dam near Church Rock, New Mexico. The spill contaminates the Rio Puerco river, source of drinking water for the Navajo, showing 7,000 times the allowable standard of radioactivity for drinking water.
July 16, 1983 10,000 peace activists form a human chain linking the American and Soviet embassies in London, England.
Related Topics: Peace Movement
July 17, 1867 Birth of Leo Jogiches (1867-1919), Marxist revolutionary.
July 17 – August 10, 1903 The Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Rossiiskaia Sotsial-Demokraticheskaia Rabochaia Partiia) takes place in Brussels and London. Outlawed in Russia, the party is forced to meet abroad, and when the Russian government pressures the Belgian government, the delegates are forced to pack up in the middle of the Congress and reconvene in London. A sharp disagreement over elements of the party program results in a split between the majority (Bolshevik) and minority (Menshevik) factions.
July 17, 1936 Right-wing military officers in Spain stage a coup. The coup is partially successful, but fails to take control of the whole country, and a three-year civil war ensues, resulting in the eventual victory of the right and the establishment of a fascist dictatorship headed by General Francisco Franco.
Related Topics: Spanish Civil War
July 17, 1979 Fighters of the Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrow the U.S.-supported dictatorial regime of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and force him to flee the country. The notorious and feared U.S.-trained National Guard crumbles and its surviving commanders negotiate a surrender, despite their superiority in armaments.
July 18, 1566 Death of Bartolome de las Casas, Spanish historian and priest. Las Casas is one of the early Spanish colonizers in the Americas, arriving in Hispanolia in 1502, where he owns a plantation using slave labour. In 1513 he participates in the Spanish conquest of Cuba, in the course of which the Spanish commit many atrocities against the indigenous Ciboney and Guanahatabey peoples. The following year, Las Casas has a radical change of heart. He concludes that the actions of the Spanish in the American colonies, including his own actions, constitute a great injustice. He gives up his plantation and frees his slaves, and begins to preach that the other colonists should do the same. He returns to Spain to plead the cause of the native peoples in the Americas, and is made bishop of Chiapas. In Chiapas, Las Casas refuses absolution to slave owners, even on their death beds, unless they first free their slaves. He writes an account, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, which relates the mistreatment of the indigenous population, which he sends to the king in the hopes the king will end the injustices being perpetrated, as well as a three-volume History of the Indies.
July 18, 1906 Birth of Clifford Odets (1906-1963), American playwright, screenwriter, and left-wing activist. His plays Waiting for Lefty and Till the Day I Die, are agit-prop classics which cast a critical light on the failures of the capitalist economic system.
July 18, 1918 Birth of Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid reader, political prisoner, first President of post-apartheid South Africa.
July 18 – September 4, 1940 Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese vice-consul in Lithuania, issues thousands of visas to Jews seeking to escape the Nazis.
July 19, 1848 The first Women’s Rights Convention in the United States takes place at Seneca Falls, New York.
Related Topics: Women’s History
July 19, 1893 Birth of Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930), Russian poet, playwright, and artist.
July 19, 1898 Birth of Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), philosopher and socialist.
July 19 - August 2, 1920 The Second Congress of the Third (Communist) International is held in Petrograd and Moscow. A total of 218 delegates representing Communist and Socialist parties take part and discuss strategies for overthrowing the capitalist system.
Related Topics: Third International (Comintern)
July 19, 1937 Germany’s Nazi government opens an exhibition of “degenerate art” (“entartete Kunst”) seized from museums and art galleries. The exhibit is designed to arouse revulsion against art deemed to show a “Jewish influence”.
July 19 – August 1, 1953 Prisoners in the Vorkuta forced-labour camp in the Soviet Union rebel. Some prisoners refuse to continue working; the walkout quickly spreads to other camps in the complex. Some 18,000 prisoners participate in the rebellion. After two weeks, troops move in, killing around 60 prisoners and injuring many more.
July 19, 1958 Several black teenagers, members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sit down at the lunch counter of a Wichita, Kansas chain drug store and ask to be served. They are refused, but return twice a week for the next several weeks, sitting several hours, refusing to leave without being served. Within a month, the drug store changes it policy and instructs staff at all its stores to “to serve all people without regard to race, creed or color.” This is apparently the first instance of a sit-in to protest segregation.
July 20, 1304 Birth of Petrarch (1304-1374), Italian scholar, poet, and humanist.
July 20, 1514 Gyorgy Dozsa (1470-1514), leader of a peasant revolt in Transylvania in the Kingdom of Hungary, is tortured and killed along with many of his followers after the defeat of the rebellion.
Related Topics: Peasant Uprisings
July 20, 1923 The Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa is assassinated.
July 20, 1925 Birth of Franz Fanon (1925-1961), French–Algerian psychiatrist, revolutionary, and writer.
July 20, 1944 A plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler ends in failure. The plot is the culmination of the efforts of the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi regime. The failure of both the assassination attempt and the seizure of power which was planned to follow it leads to the arrest of at least 7,000 people by the Gestapo. About 5,000 people are executed, resulting in the destruction of much of the resistance movement in Germany.
Related Topics: Anti-Nazi Resistance
July 20, 1960 Publication of Preliminaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program, by Situationists Pierre Canjuers and Guy Debord.
Related Topics: Situationism
Related Topics: Work Hours
July 21, 1925 The so-called “Monkey Trial” ends in Dayton, Tennessee, with high school teacher John T. Scopes convicted of violating a state law against teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution. The conviction is later overturned by Tennessee’s Supreme Court.
Related Topics: Evolution
July 21, 1976 Soldiers of Argentina’s military junta kidnap hundreds of people from two villages in Jujuy province in northern Argentina. Thirty of them, most of them employees of a sugar refinery, are never seen again. Since 1983, on the Thursday closest to July 21, Madres de Plaza de Mayo (an organization of mothers and wives of the missing) and others walk the 7 km from Calilegua to San Martin, demanding answers about the fate of their loved ones.
July 22, 1822 Birth of Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), monk, scientist, pioneer in the field of genetics. Mendel’s work in genetics is largely rejected or ignored in his lifetime, but after his death it is re-discovered and its importance is realized.
July 22, 1877 A general strike, growing out of the railroad strike that has paralyzed much of the US, is called in St. Louis, where workers briefly seize control of the city. Strikers in St. Louis continue operation of non-freight trains and collect the fares, making it impossible for the railroads to blame the workers for loss of passenger rail service.
July 22, 1913 In the wake of Parliamentary approval of a military bill which strengthens German imperialism and increases the likelihood of war, Rosa Luxemburg gives a speech on the political mass strike. She argues that Parliamentarism is a dead end, and that it is necessary for the working class to rely on extra-parliamentary means to challenge militarism and capitalism.
Rosa Luxemburg: The Political Mass Strike
July 23, 1846
Henry David Thoreau is jailed for refusing to pay the poll tax as a protest against the American war against Mexico. He goes on to write “Civil Disobedience,” an essay that became a source of inspiration for Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Related Topics: Civil Disobedience
July 23, 1870 Upon the outbreak of war between France and Prussia, the International Working Men’s Association issues a statement (written by Karl Marx) condemning the war, and warning that victory as well as defeat could prove disastrous for working people. It approvingly quotes a declaration adopted by an assembly of workers’ delegates in Chemnitz, which states: “In the name of German Democracy, and especially of the workmen forming the Democratic Socialist Party, we declare the present war to be exclusively dynastic.... We are happy to grasp the fraternal hand stretched out to us by the workmen of France.... Mindful of the watchword of the International Working Men’s Association: Proletarians of all countries, unite, we shall never forget that the workmen of all countries are our friends and the despots of all countries our enemies.”
The First Address: July 23, 1870
July 23, 1892 Anarchist Alexander Berkman attempts to assassinate industrialist Henry Clay Frick.
July 23, 1967 Detroiters angry at the disappearance of jobs and, especially, at the abusive and virtually all-white police department, start rioting in what becomes known as the Detroit Rebellion. Six days of rioting, finally put down by the National Guard, leave 43 dead, at least 347 injured, and 3800 in jail. During the riots, 1300 buildings are burned to the ground and 2700 businesses are looted.
Detroiters Remember the 1967 Rebellion
Related Topics: Riots
July 24, 1702 Camisard Protestants in the Cevennes region of France revolt against the continuing persecution of Protestants by the Roman Catholic Church and the French state. After enduring years of repression, deportations, murders, and torture, they strike back against their oppressors. The revolt begins with the assassination of François Langlade, the Abbé of Chaila, a church official notorious for having Protestants arrested and tortured. The French army is sent to take revenge against the Camisard peasants; the Camisards take up arms and engage in guerrilla warfare against the French troops. The army resorts to massacres, and to destroying houses, farms and villages. Two years late, the government offers concessions to bring an end to the ongoing revolt. The revolt subsides, but scattered fighting goes on for several more years.
July 24, 1783 Birth of Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), a key leader in the Latin American struggles for independence from Spain.
July 24, 1893 Birth of Ammon Hennacy (1893-1970), Christian pacifist, anarchist, and activist.
July 24, 1894 American forces invade Seoul, Korea, ‘to protect American interests’. They remain until April 3, 1896.
July 24, 1941 Arvida Strike: 700 workers at the Aluminium Co. of Canada (Alcan) plant in Arvida, Quebec spontaneously walk off the job. The next day the strike spreads to 4500 workers, who decide to occupy the plant. The strike is then declared illegal under capitalist law, and soldiers are sent to Arvida to ‘protect’ the factory. Work resumes four days later and negotiations begin.
Related Topics: Strikes/Canadian
July 24, 2001 Rural people join with urban shack dwellers to form the Landless Peoples Movement in South Africa.
July 25, 1849 The Willich Corps, a revolutionary militia who have been fighting along with other revolutionary forces against Prussian troops in the Palatinate, escape across the Rhine into Switzerland after being defeated by the Prussian army. One of the last to make the crossing is Friedrich Engels, co-author of the Communist Manifesto.
Related Topics: Revolutions of 1848-49
July 25, 1898 The United States invades and occupies Puerto Rico, proclaiming they are ‘liberating’ the island. More than a century later, the American occupation continues.
Puerto Rico, The Oldest U.S. Colony
July 25, 1905 Birth of Grace MacInnis (1905-1991), Canadian politician, social democrat, and feminist; elected as an MLA and an MP representing the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the New Democratic Party (NDP).
July 25 - August 2, 1909 Tragic Week (Setmana Tràgica in Catalan, la Semana Trágica in Spanish): bloody confrontations between the Spanish army and the working classes of Barcelona and other cities of Catalonia.
July 26 - 29, 1830 Unhappy with the results of the recent election, French King Charles X dissolves Parliament. In response, Paris workers head to the barricades, while soldiers refuse to put down the insurrection. Three days later, the King is forced to abdicate.
July 26, 1877 Battle of the Viaduct in Chicago. Federal troops, recently returned from a massacre of Indians in the west, backed by militia and police, attack striking furniture workers. They kill at least 30, and leave more than 100 seriously injured.
July 26, 1893 Birth of George Grosz (1893-1959), German artist and radical.
July 26, 1953 Cuban rebels led by 26-year-old Fidel Castro attack the Moncada Barracks in Santiago and the barracks in Bayamo.
Related Topics: Cuba
July 27, 1816 An American military expedition attacks the ‘Negro Fort’ in Florida, where several hundred escaped slaves are living. The free settlement is loathed by American slaveowners because it stands as a constant symbol of resistance to slavery. As the American troops approach the vicinity of the fort, they encounter armed black militia allied with indigenous Seminole and Choctaw warriors. The fort falls when a bombardment by American cannon results in a massive explosion of the fort’s powder magazine. Most of the occupants of the fort are killed or injured in the explosion. The leader of the black militia, Garson, is captured and killed. The other survivors are enslaved.
July 27, 1918 United Mine Workers organizer Ginger Goodwin is shot and killed by a private cop near Cumberland, British Columbia. On August 2, workers in Vancouver hold a one-day general strike to protest his murder.
July 27, 1919 Riots break out in Chicago after Eugene Williams, a black youth floating on a raft crosses an unseen ‘color line’ at the 29th Street Beach and is drowned by a rock-throwing white man. Chicago police refuse to arrest the killer. 38 people die and more than 500 are injured in the ensuing eight days of rioting.
July 27, 1942 Two Japanese-American men, Toshiro Kobata, a farmer, and Hirota Isomura, a fisherman, are shot to death by guards at the Lourdsburg, New Mexico internment camp for ‘enemy aliens.’ Authorities claim the men were trying to escape, but subsequent reports indicate that the men were so ill that they had been unable to walk from the train station to the camp gate.
Japanese American internment
July 27, 1953 The United States, China, and North Korea agree to a truce, ending the Korean War.
July 27, 1996 Four female peace activists are arrested for pouring their on blood on weapons at the Naval Submarine Base at Groton, Connecticut, on the morning of the launch of the Trident submarine the U.S.S. Louisiana.
July 28, 1901 Birth of Harry Bridges (1901-1990), radical union leader in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
July 28, 1915 The United States invades and occupies Haiti. The American occupation continues until August, 1934.
July 28, 1917 W.E.B. DuBois and others organize a silent parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City against the lynching of negroes and segregationist Jim Crow laws. There had been nearly 3,000 documented cases of hangings and other mob violence against black Americans since the Reconstruction period following the Civil War.
July 28, 1932 The Bonus Army, U.S. World War I veterans, most of them unemployed and in desperate financial straits, are forcibily dispersed by troops commanded by General Douglas MacArthur.
July 28, 1965 In a major escalation of the American invasion of Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson orders an additional 50,000 troops to Vietnam, to join the 75,000 already there.
July 29, 1874 Birth of J.S. Woodsworth, Canadian socialist.
July 29, 1900 Gaetano Bresci assassinates King Umberto I of Italy, in revenge for Umberto’s decision to reward the murderous General Fiorenzo Bava-Beccaris, responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of workers in Milan.
July 29, 1972 After a five-year strike, the United Farm Workers (UFW) win a contract with the table grape growers in California, ending the first grape boycott.
July 30, 1889 American forces intervene in Hawaii.
July 30, 1936 Airplanes supplied by the fascist regimes of Germany and Italy transport Spain’s fascist military leaders and their troops from Africa to Spain in an attempt to overthrow the Spanish government. The coup attempt meets strong resistance, and the Spanish civil war breaks out.
Related Topics: Spanish Civil War
July 30, 1938 Adolf Hitler presents Nazi Germany’s highest non-citizen award, “Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle,” to American industrialist Henry Ford in Berlin, in appreciation of Ford’s pro-Nazi statements.
July 30, 1996 Four Ploughshares activists in Liverpool, England, are acquitted of all charges (illegal entry and criminal damage) on the basis of their having prevented a greater crime, after having extensively damaged an F-16 Hawk fighter jet to be sold to the Indonesian government for use in its genocidal occupation of East Timor.
July 31, 1703 British author Daniel Defoe is forced to stand in the pillory prior to commencing a jail sentence after being convicted of seditious libel. Defoe’s pamphlet, The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church, purported to argue for the extermination of dissenters, but was actually a ruthless satire of the religious establishment, who reacted viciously.
July 31, 1859 US troops land in Shanghai to ‘protect American interests’.
July 31, 1905 Start of the Maji Maji Rebellion in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) against German colonial rule. Germany, determined to extract as much profit as possible from its colony, had instituted a policy of forcing villagers to grow cotton for export, rather than food for their own use. They also conscripted men into forced labour on building roads and other amenities for the occupiers. The rebellion lasts until 1907, when it is finally crushed, and results in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, many as a result of the German policy of using starvation to defeat the rebellion.
July 31, 1916 The newly formed Mexican Regional Federation of Labour begins a general strike that starts with the electricians’ union in Mexico City, blacking out the Mexican capital.
July 31, 1917 Start of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres). By the time it ends on November 10, between 400,000 and 800,000 soldiers will have been killed or wounded.
July 31, 1919 Birth of Primo Levi (1919-1987), Italian Jewish chemist and writer.
July 31, 1922 In Italy, a general strike against fascism begins. The strike is defeated, and Mussolini’s fascists crush the opposition to their rule.
July 31, 1932 In the German election, Nazis win 230 Reichstag seats, Socialists 133, Center 97 and Communists 89.
July 31, 1936 In Puerto Rico, Pedro Albizu Campos, Juan Antonio Corretjer, Clemente Soto Vélez and other independence fighters are sentenced to 6-10 years in federal prison.
July 31, 1941 Hermann Göring directs Reinhard Heydrich to carry out the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’.
July 31, 1958 Guerrillas form to oppose the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
July 31, 1968 Violent battles take place in Mexico City between students and Granaderos riot police.
July 31, 1977 In France, 60,000 people demonstrate against the Super-Phoenix nuclear reactor. One person is killed.
July 31, 1992 In Togo, a general Strike begins over the murder of an opposition leader.
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 Peacebuttons.info, the books and articles of Noam Chomsky and William Blum (marvellous antidotes to historical amnesia), and a wide, wide variety of other sources.
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