Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology

– October –

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

Compiled by Ulli Diemer



October 1965
The Indonesian military begins a massive purge of communists, suspected communists, and others seen as undesirable elements. In the course of the next year, between 500,000 and one million people are murdered. The U.S. government provides weapons and encouragement.

Related Topics: IndonesiaMassacres

October 1

October 1, 1851
A group of white and black residents of Syracuse, New York break into the police station and free a runaway slave who has been captured and is about to be returned South into slavery. When the slave, William Henry, is later recaptured, a group of men then break into his hearing, overpower the guards, and help him escape to Canada.

Related Topics: Anti-Slavery

October 1, 1865
Birth of Albert Saint-Martin (1865-1947), labour militant and socialist.

October 1, 1949
Mao Zedong proclaims the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

October 1, 1962
James Meredith becomes the first African-American student to enrol at the University of Mississippi. In the face of rioting by white racists, the U.S. government sends in troops to protect Meredith and impose de-segregation of the university. More than 200 federal marshalls and soldiers are injured in the riots, and two people die. Meredith goes on to graduate the following year.

Related Topics: De-segregationJim CrowRacismSegregation

October 1, 1964
Campus police at the University of California, Berkeley arrest Jack Weinberg for violating a ban against political advocacy on campus. He had been sitting at a table for CORE, the Congress on Racial Equality, distributing literature supporting the civil rights movement. When Weinberg is put into a police car, students spontaneously surround the car to prevent it from moving. The blockade, which eventually involves some 3,000 students, continues for 32 hours until police agree to release Weinberg. The events mark the beginning of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, which is seen as a pivotal moment in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.

Further Reading:
Free Speech Movement Archives
Berkeley: The New Student Revolt, by Hal Draper
Celebrating the Past – The Legacy of the Free Speech Movement, by Gretchen Lipow

Related Topics: Civil Rights Movement (U.S.)Free Speech

October 1, 2012
Death of Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012), Marxist historian.

Further Reading:
Industry and Empire
The Age of Revolution 1789-1848
The Age of Capital 1848-1875
The Age of Empire 1875-1914
The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991
Uncommon People: Resistance, Rebellion and Jazz
How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism

October 2

October 2, 1800
Birth of Nat Turner (1800-1831), American slave who led a slave rebellion in 1831.

Related Topics: Slave Revolts

October 2, 1869
Birth of Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948).

October 2, 1968
Tlatelolco massacre: Soldiers and police kill more than 100 protesters in Mexico City.

October 2, 2009
Death of Marek Edelman, doctor, political activist, veteran of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Further Reading:
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, by Marek Edelman

October 3

October 3, 1889
Birth of Carl von Ossietzky (1889-1938), radical German pacifist. He was convicted of high treason and espionage in 1931 after publishing details of Germany’s re-arming in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. He was imprisoned by the Nazis, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while in prison, and died in 1938 of tuberculosis and from the after-effects of the abuse he suffered in the concentration camps.

October 4

October 4, 1852
Start of the Cologne Communist Trial, a trial of 11 members of the Communist League. Held in prison for over 18 months before being put on trial, the members of the Communist League were charged with high treason by the Prussian Government on the basis of faked documents and false evidence. Seven of the accused were sentenced to imprisonment in a fortress for terms from three to six years. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels both wrote accounts exposing the fabrications and provocations of the Prussian police in the case.

Further Reading:
The Late Trial at Cologne, by Friedrich Engels.
Revelations Concerning the Communist Trial in Cologne, by Karl Marx.

Related Topics: Political Prisoners

October 4, 1936
The Battle of Cable Street. The people of East London join together and forcibly prevent Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirt fascists from marching through the streets of the East End.

October 4, 1957
The Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the first human-made object in space.

October 4, 2006
Wikileaks, an online project for leaking and publishing documents exposing oppressive governments and corporations, is launched. It quickly incurs the wrath of governments, especially the U.S., who don’t want their misconduct to become known to the public.

October 5

October 5, 1789
The Women’s March on Versailles, a crucial moment in the unfolding of the French Revolution, begins this morning when women in the marketplaces of Paris, confronted by high prices and a scarcity of bread, decide to take their grievances directly to the King at his Palace in Versailles.
A rapidly growing revolutionary mood leads them to first go to the city armoury and help themselves to the weapons stored there; there is a feeling that they will be able to present their grievances more persuasively if they are armed.
Thousands join the march to Versailles, and there, in a series of confrontations, they compel the King to promise more food for the people.
Having little faith in royal promises alone, however, they insist that the King and his entourage leave Versailles and return with them to Paris. Faced with the people armed, the king has no choice but to comply. From this day on, the king’s power to control events is effectively ended.

Related Topics: French Revolution

October 5, 1813
Death of Tecumseh (1768-1813), a Shawnee who organized and led a tribal confederacy that sought to prevent the United States from seizing Native lands. In the face of continuing American expansionism and treaty violations, Tecumseh allies himself with the British in the War of 1812. He is killed in the Battle of the Thames in what is now Ontario.

Quote: “My people wish for peace; the red men all wish for peace; but where the white people are, there is no peace for them, except it be on the bosom of our mother. Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun. Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear to us? I know you will cry with me, Never! NEVER!”

October 5, 1839
Publication of The People’s Charter, the first manifesto of the Chartist movement in Britain. Chartism is a working-class movement that seeks political reform, including the removal of the property qualifications which deny the vote to the working class.

Related Topics: ChartismVoting Rights/Suffrage

October 5, 1887
Chief Joseph (1840-1904), leader of the Nez Perce Indians, surrenders to the U.S. Army, ending a desperate struggle by his people for self-determination and to maintain their traditional homeland.

October 5, 1923
Birth of Philip Berrigan (1923-2002), American peace activist.

Further Reading:
Prison Journals of a Priest revolutionary, by Philip Berrigan.

October 5, 1970
The October Crisis begins with the kidnapping in Montreal of British Trade Commissioner James Cross by members of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ).

Related Topics: October Crisis (Quebec October 1970)

October 5, 1993
Russian President Boris Yeltsin stages an armed coup to crush the Russian Parliament, which has been opposing some parts of his program for capitalist restructuring of the Russian economy.

Related Topics: Coups

October 6

October 6, 1858
American forces take revenge for the killing of two American citizens in Fiji by killing 14 people and burning Fijian homes.

October 6, 1917
Birth of Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977), American voting rights activist and civil rights leader. Hamer was active in organizing voter registration drives, including the Mississippi Freedom Summer, for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the vice-chair and spokesperson of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Further Reading/Listening:
Fannie Lou Hamer’s speech to the Democratic Convention's credentials committee, 1964.
For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, by Chana Kai Lee.

Related Topics: Civil Rights Movement (U.S.)Jim CrowRacismVoting Rights

October 6, 1966
The Love Pageant Rally takes place in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The rally is held to protest legislation, effective the following day, banning the drug LSD. The rally is attended by several thousand people, many of whom take LSD together while listening to music.

October 6, 1976
A Cuban passenger plane, Cubana Flight 455, is brought down by terrorist bombs. All 78 people on board are killed. Those responsible are anti-Castro exiles linked to the CIA. It is later revealed that the CIA had advance knowledge of the plot to bring down the plane.

Related Topics: BombingsCubaCuba-United States RelationsTerrorism

October 7

October 7, 1763
The British issue a Royal Proclamation which recognizes Native rights and territory, and restricts colonists to the area east of the Appalachians. The land west of the Appalachians from Florida to Quebec is recognized as an ‘Indian Reserve.’ The American colonists’ resentment of this restriction is one of the factors that leads to the American War of Independence thirteen years later.

October 7, 1786
Birth of Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786-1871), leader of the Patriotes, a movement advocating democratic political reform in Lower Canada. When the rebellion of 1837-38 is defeated, Papineau is forced to flee to the U.S. and then Europe, but is able to return in 1845 under the terms of an amnesty.

October 7, 1879
Birth of Joe Hill (Joel Emmanuel Hagglund) (1879-1915), Swedish-American labour activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World. In 1915, after a rigged trial, Joe Hill is executed for murder.

Related Topics: Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)Labour HistoryCourts as Instruments of OppressionSongwriters

October 7, 1897
Founding of the General Jewish Labour Bund, whose goal is to unite Jewish workers in the Russian Empire into a single socialist organization. The Czarist Empire of the time includes Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland, the regions where most European Jews then lived. The Bund sees itself as an autonomous part of the wider Russian social democratic (socialist) movement.

Related Topics: Jewish HistoryLabour History

October 7, 1927
Birth of R.D. Laing (1927-1989), radical psychiatrist.

October 7, 1931
Birth of Desmond Tutu, South African cleric and anti-apartheid leader.

Related Topics: Apartheid

October 7, 1944
Jewish Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz (inmates used as slave labourers in the gas chambers and crematoria, and kept separate from the main camp) stage an uprising. They manage to kill more than 70 SS officers before being defeated and killed.

Related Topics: AuschwitzConcentration CampsHolocaust

October 7, 1952
In British East Africa (now Kenya), the first attack in the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule takes place. The rebellion continues until 1960. It sets the stage for eventual independence, and inspires movements against colonial rule in other African colonies.

Related Topics: Anti-ColonialismKenyaNational Liberation Movements

October 7, 2006
Assassination of Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006) Russian journalist and human rights activist.

Related Topics: Political Murders

October 8

October 8, 1923
West Coast Longshore Strike: 1400 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) in Vancouver go on strike for higher wages. The strike is eventually defeated through the use of strikebreakers and armed thugs.

Related Topics: Strikes/Canadian

October 8-11, 1969
The Weatherman group engages in three “Days of Rage” in Chicago in an effort to “Bring the War Home”. The action succeeds in inflicting property damage (breaking windows, wrecking cars) but dozens of Weather members are injured, 287 are arrested, including most of the leaders, and the organization has to find a quarter of a million dollars for bail money to get people out of jail. Afterwards, members of the group go underground and become the Weather Underground.

Further Reading:
Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity.
Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen.
The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground.

October 9

October 9, 1823
Birth of Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893), a key figure in the Underground Railroad which smuggles escaped slaves to freedom. During the American Civil War, she serves as a recruiting officer to enlist black volunteers for the Union Army. At the age of 60, she earns a law degree, becoming the second black woman in the U.S. to graduate as a lawyer.

Related Topics: Anti-Slavery

October 9, 1913
Start of the Great Strike of 1913 in New Zealand, a waterfront dispute that develops into a near-General Strike.

Related Topics: New ZealandStrikes

October 10

October 10, 1970
Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte is kidnapped by a cell of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). This is five days after the kidnapping of British trade commissioner James Cross by another FLQ cell. The kidnappers murder Laporte a few days later.

Further Reading:
October Crisis

October 10, 1985
American planes intercept an Egyptian passenger plane, in violation of international law, and force it to land in Sicily. The Eygptian plane is carrying men who the U.S. claim hijacked an Italian cruise ship.

October 11

October 11, 1865
The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica. Although slavery has been abolished in Jamaica, most blacks are desperately poor, landless, and denied the vote. When a black man is arrested and imprisoned for ‘trespassing’ on a long-abandoned plantation, protesters march to the courthouse in Morant Bay. Militia fire on them, killing seven. The protesters retaliate by killing 18 militia and officials and taking control of the town. The Governor of Jamaica, Edward Eyre, then dispatches troops to engage in brutal reprisals. Hundreds of blacks are killed in the following days, many of them people who had had nothing to do with the events, shot down in cold blood as troops maraude through the countryside.

Related Topics: Black HistoryColonialismJamaicaMilitary Violence against CiviliansRevoltsState TerrorismState Violence

October 11, 1869
Louis Riel and other Métis disrupt a survey ordered in the Red River Colony. The survey is widely (and correctly) seen as a precursor to depriving the Métis of their land.

Related Topics: MétisMétis History

October 11, 1961
U.S. President John F. Kennedy orders an Air Force squadron of planes specially equipped for counter-insurgency warfare to South Vietnam, the first step in directly involving the United States Air Force in combat operations.

October 11, 1962
Pope John XXIII opens the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II). The council initiates a number of modernizing reforms in the Roman Catholic Church.

October 12

October 12, 1492
Natives of a Caribbean island discover a group of confused Europeans wandering on the shore. The leader of the group, Christopher Columbus, is searching for a water route to India. The members of his group may not know where they are, but they are armed and ruthless. They immediately claim “ownership” of the island they have just landed on. In the following years, they and those who follow them will kill or enslave most of the people living on these islands, and on the mainland.

Further Reading:
Christopher Who? Discovering the Americas
Debunking Columbus
Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest

Related Topics: ColonialismSpanish Empire

October 12, 1909
Birth of Dorothy Livesay (1909-1996), Canadian poet and radical journalist.

Further Reading:
Ballad of the Peace Pushers, by Dorothy Livesay
Interview with Dorothy Livesay

October 12-25, 1925
American forces intervene in Panama to ‘protect American interests.’

October 12, 1954
Hurricane Hazel strikes Haiti; an estimated 1,000 people die.

October 12, 1958
A Reform Jewish synagogue in Atlanta is firebombed in retaliation for Jewish support of civil rights for blacks.

Related Topics: Anti-SemitismBombingsDe-segregationJim CrowTerrorism

October 13

October 13, 1307
In France, members of the Knights Templar are arrested, tortured, and murdered on orders of the king, who sees them as a threat.

October 13, 1812
At Queenston Heights, British troops, Canadian militia, and Iroquois defeat an invading American force.

October 13, 1821
Birth of Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902), physician, pathologist, archaeologist, and politician. Virchow is one of the founders of social medicine, arguing that disease is not purely biological, but often related to or spread by social circumstances.
Sent to investigate a typhus outbreak in Silesia in 1848, he concludes that the outbreak could not be solved by treating individual patients with drugs or with minor changes in living conditions, but only through radical action to promote the advancement of an entire population, which could only be achieved by “full and unlimited democracy” and “education, freedom and prosperity.”

October 13, 1904
Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams is published.

Related Topics: FreudPsychoanalysis

October 14

October 14, 1906
Birth of Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), German-American author and political theorist.

October 14, 1907
Start of the Panic of 1907 in the United States, one of a series of periodic capitalist crises to hit the United States and other capitalist countries. Other financial crises in the U.S. occur in 1797, 1819, 1837, 1857, 1873, 1884, 1893, 1896, 1901, 1907, The Great Depression 1929-1940, 1973-74, 1987, 1989-91, 2007 – 2013 (still continuing).

Related Topics: Capitalism/HistoryCapitalist CrisesEconomic CrisesFinance CapitalFinancial BailoutsFinancial CrisesInternational Debt CrisisStock Markets

October 14, 1943
As the result of an uprising at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, about 300 Jewish prisoners escape, though only about 50 survive until the end of the war. Following the escape, the remaining inmates are killed and the camp is closed by the Germans.

Related Topics: Anti-Nazi ResistanceConcentration CampsHolocaust

October 14, 1954
Birth of Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear technician who in 1986 reveals details of Israel’s illegal nuclear weapons program to the media. He is subsequently abducted by the Mossad in Italy, shipped to Israel, and, after a secret ‘trial’, imprisoned for 18 years, more than 11 of which are in solitary confinement.

Related Topics: KidnappingIsraeli Legal SystemIsraeli Nuclear WeaponsNuclear WeaponsPolitical PrisonersSolitary ConfinementWeapons of Mass Destruction

October 14 - 28, 1962
The Cuban Missile Crisis, a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union which brings the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Further Reading:
The Week the World Stood Still: Cuban Missile Crisis and Ownership of the World

Related Topics: Cuban Missile Crisis

October 14, 1982
A group calling itself “Direct Action” (later, after their arrest, known as the Squamish Five) bombs a Litton Industries factory near Toronto. The factory manufactures guidance systems for American cruise missiles. Ten workers are injured in the explosion.

Further Reading:
Arms Maker, Union Buster: Litton Industries - A Corporate Profile
A Case For Non-violent Resistance
You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship

Related Topics: BombingsCruise Missiles

October 15

October 15, 1880
Birth of Marie Stopes (1880-1958), campaigner for birth control and women’s rights.

October 15, 1923
Birth of Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian writer, author of The Baron in the Trees, Cosmicomics, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Invisible Cities, If on a winter's night a traveler, and other works.

October 15, 1954
Hurricane Hazel strikes Ontario. The hurricane causes widespread flooding: 83 people die, mostly in and around Toronto. In the aftermath, governments take steps to protect and conserve watersheds and prevent building in floodplains.

October 15, 1966
The Black Panthers are formed in Oakland. The Panthers are a militant left-wing group which sets out to fight police brutality against blacks. The Black Panther Party goes on to actively involve itself with many issues important to blacks in the United States. They organize free breakfast programs for children, free medical clinics, transportation to prisons for family members of inmates, and classes on politics and economics. Law enforcement agencies see the Panthers as a threat because of their militancy and black nationalism and target the Panthers with a variety of repressive tactics. Some Black Panthers die at the hands of police, others are imprisoned. By the late 1970s the Black Panther Party ceases to function.

Further Reading:
The Black Panthers Reconsidered

Related Topics: Black LiberationBlack OrganizationsBlack PanthersBlack PowerCOINTELPRO

October 15, 1969
The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam: large demonstrations against the U.S. war against Vietnam are held in many cities in the United States and other countries, with millions of people participating.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementVietnam War

October 15, 1976
The Toronto Clarion, launched with the goal of establishing a progressive Toronto newspaper with a wide readership, starts publishing.

October 15, 1987
Thomas Sankara (1949-1987), President of Burkina Faso, is assassinated. Sankara had attracted the enmity of the major capitalist powers and their local clients because of his policies. Sankara had nationalized foreign companies, redistributed land from feudal landlords to peasants, rejected foreign aid, and called for a united front of African nations to repudiate their foreign debt. He argued that the poor and exploited did not have an obligation to repay money to the rich and exploiting. After he is assassinated, he is replaced by a compliant leader who reverses the nationalizations and overturns nearly all of Sankara’s achievements.

October 15, 2011
Global protests take place in 950 cities in 82 countries against corporate rule.

October 16

October 16, 1854
Birth of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), playwright, poet, epigramist, and socialist.

Further Reading:
Oscar Wilde: The Soul of Man under Socialism

October 16, 1859
John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry begins. Brown and his group, all deeply committed to the anti-slavery cause, have planned the raid in the hope of obtaining guns, freeing slaves, and triggering an armed revolt against slavery. By October 18, the raid has failed; some of Brown’s men are dead, and Brown and six other raiders are subsequently executed. The events inspire the song John Brown’s Body, frequently sung by Union soldiers as they march into battle in the Civil War which breaks out less than two years later. The song proclaims: “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave, His soul is marching on.”

Further Reading:
John Brown, Abolitionist

Related Topics: Anti-Slavery

October 16, 1970
Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declares a state of apprehended insurrection and invokes the War Measures Act in the wake of two kidnappings – those of James Cross and Pierre Laporte – by members of the FLQ. Under the War Measures Act, habeas corpus is suspended, allowing police to arrest and detain people without charge. Soldiers are sent to patrol the streets of Montreal. While the War Measures Act is in force, hundreds of people are arrested and held without charge.

Related Topics: October Crisis (Quebec October 1970)

October 17

October 17, 1760
Birth of Henri Saint-Simon (1760-1825), utopian socialist.

Related Topics: Utopian Socialism

October 17, 1883
Birth of A.S. Neill (1883-1973), progressive educator, advocate of freedom for children, author, and founder of the free school Summerhill.

Further Reading:

Related Topics: ChildrenProgressive Schools

October 17, 1920
Death of John Reed (1887-1920), radical journalist, communist, author of Ten Days That Shook the World, an account of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Reed dies in Moscow of typhus at the age of 32.

Further Reading:
Ten Days That Shook the World
Six Red Months in Russia

October 17, 1961
Paris police massacre people taking part in a demonstration in favour of Algerian independence. The number of dead is never accurately tallied, but is believed to exceed 200. Many demonstrators are beaten unconscious and then thrown into the River Seine. Others are gunned down in the courtyard of police headquarters after being arrested and brought there on police buses.

October 17, 1967
In Madison, Wisconsin, a large demonstration takes place against university complicity in the Vietnam War in allowing Dow recruiters on campus. The demonstrations culminate in a sit-in that is violently dispersed by police, resulting in many injuries and arrests. A mass rally and a student strike then close the university for several days.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementVietnam War

October 17, 1970
The body of Pierre Laporte, the Quebec labour minister kidnapped and murdered by the FLQ, is found.

Related Topics: October Crisis (Quebec October 1970)

October 18

October 18, 1803
Haitian forces defeat the French army at Vertières in the last major battle of the Haitian war of independence. The battle ends French attempts to put down the Haitian Revolution and re-institute slavery. France subsequently turns to economic warfare to punish the Haitians for daring to throw off their chains. Haiti is forced to pay ‘reparations’ to French slave-owners and bondholders for the loss of their ‘property’ (i.e. slaves and land); the reparations continue until 1947 and plunge Haiti into extreme poverty.

Further Reading:
The Black Jacobins
Documents of the Haitian Independence Struggle

Related Topics: ColonialismHaitiHaitian RevolutionSlave Revolts

October 18, 1860
Invading British and French forces under the command of ‘Lord’ Elgin and General Grant deliberately burn and destroy the Old Summer Palace in Beijing in a calculated display of contempt for Chinese culture and history. The destruction occurs during the Second Opium War, in which Britain and France wage war on China in order to force it to legalize the opium trade, which is monopolized by hugely profitable British companies, and to make other concessions to the imperial powers.

Further Reading:
Articles on China 1853-1860 by Marx and Engels
The Rape of China

Related Topics: British EmpireChinese HistoryDrug TraffickingDrugs and Organized CrimeDrugs and TerrorismImperialismInternational Drug Traffic

October 19

October 19, 1871
Birth of William Coaker (1871-1938), Newfoundland trade unionist known for organizing co-operatives.

Related Topics: Co-operative DevelopmentCo-operativesFisheries/FishermanNewfoundland History

October 19, 1878
The German government, headed by Bismarck, passes the first in a series Anti-Socialist Laws. While the legislation does not ban the socialist Social-Democratic Party (SPD) outright, it bans any meetings whose aim is to spread socialist ideas, it outlaws trade unions, and it closes down socialist newspapers. The SPD works to circumvent the legislation with some success by relocating publications outside of Germany and running candidates as ostensible independents; support for the party actually increases during the period of the Anti-Socialist Laws. The laws are allowed to lapse after Bismarck leaves office in 1890.

Related Topics: Anti-SocialismGerman HistoryGerman Social Democratic Party (SPD)Political Repression

October 19, 1895
Birth of Lewis Mumford (1895-1990), writer on technology, cities, history, architecture, and literature.

Further Reading:
The City in History
The Story of Utopias
Technics and Civilization
Green Memories
The Myth of the Machine
The Highway and the City
Lewis Mumford obituary in Connexions Digest

Related Topics: Culture and TechnologyTechnological ChangeTechnology and SocietyUrban History

October 19, 1987
The United States attacks two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. On November 6, 2003, the International Court of Justice rules that “the actions of the United States of America against Iranian oil platforms on 19 October 1987 (Operation Nimble Archer) and 18 April 1988 (Operation Praying Mantis) cannot be justified as measures necessary to protect the essential security interests of the United States of America.”

October 20

October 20, 1904
Birth of T.C. (Tommy) Douglas (1904-1986), Canadian social democrat. Douglas becomes premier in the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) government which is elected in Saskatchewan in 1944, and which becomes the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce medicare. In 1961, Douglas is chosen the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party (the successor to the CCF). In 1970, he is the strongest voice in Parliament speaking out against Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s imposition of the War Measures Act.

Further Reading:
Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth in Saskatchewan
The Regina Manifesto: Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Programme 1933

Related Topics: Co-operative Commonwealth FederationMedicareNew Democratic PartySocial Democracy

October 21

October 21, 1837
The United States Army, which has been trying to seize Florida for white settlers, as stipulated by the Indian Removal Act of 1830, offers a truce to the fiercely resistant Seminoles and invites them to a peace conference. When 20 Seminoles, led by Osceola, arrive to negotiate, the Army seizes and imprisons them – standard U.S. practice in dealing with people who dare to resist. Osceola dies in prison shortly afterwards.

Related Topics: Aboriginal HistoryEthnic CleansingMilitary DeceptionMilitary HistoryUnited States Military

October 21, 1967
100,000 people demonstrate in Washington against the Vietnam War. Later in the day, some 30,000 march to the Pentagon for another rally and an all-night vigil. 647 are arrested, among them novelist Norman Mailer, who describes the events surrounding the protest (including his time sharing a jail cell with Noam Chomsky) in his book The Armies of the Night.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementVietnam War

October 22

October 22, 1844
Birth of Louis Riel (1844-1885), Métis leader, fighter for Métis land rights and self-determination, founder of Manitoba, leader of the Red River Rebellion and the Northwest Rebellion.

Related Topics: Aboriginal HistoryHistory/CanadianMétisMétis HistoryNative Peoples

October 22 - December 6, 1856
U.S. forces invade China in order to ‘protect American interests’ and to take revenge for an assault on a boat displaying the American flag.

October 22, 1887
Birth of John Reed (1887-1920), radical journalist, communist, author of Ten Days That Shook the World, an account of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Further Reading:
Ten Days That Shook the World
Six Red Months in Russia

October 22-29, 1922
Mussolini’s March on Rome, the fascist seizure of power in Italy.

Related Topics: FascismFascism in Italy

October 22, 1960
Founding of the Committee of 100, a British anti-war group.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementPeace Movement

October 22, 1977
In the largest mass arrest in Canada since War Measures Act, Montreal police raid the Truxx gay bar and charge 146 men with being found-ins in a common bawdy house.

Related Topics: Gay & Lesbian HistoryPolice Raids

October 22-27, 1996
The Days of Action, a series of demonstrations against the extreme-right Ontario government led by Premier Mike Harris.

Further Reading:
Alien Invasion: How the Harris Tories Mismanaged Ontario

Related Topics: Demonstrations, Marches, ProtestsNeoconservatismPolitical Demonstrations

October 23

October 23, 1874
Birth of Otto Rühle (1874-1943), German Marxist revolutionary.

Further Reading:
Karl Marx: His Life and Works
Karl Marx’s Capital
The Revolution is Not a Party Affair

October 23 – November 4, 1942
In the Second Battle of El Alamein, British and German armies clash in North Africa. The battle results in the defeat of Rommel’s Afrika Korps, and puts an end to the threatened German conquest of Egypt, the Suez Canal, and the Middle Eastern oil fields.

October 23, 1956
Outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution. Demonstrations of students and workers march through Budapest. In the evening, police fire on unarmed demonstrators; demonstrators start seizing weapons, and fighting breaks out. The result is a revolution which overthrows the Hungarian government but is eventually crushed by the Soviet Union.

Further Reading:
Hungary 56
Hungary 1956: A workers’ revolt crushed by the “workers’ state“

Related Topics: Hungarian Revolution 1956Revolutionary MomentsWorkers’ Councils

October 23, 1958
A massive ‘bump’ in a coal mine in Springhill, Nova Scotia kills 74 miners, while another 100 are trapped underground but eventually rescued. Folk singers Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl compose “The Ballad of Springhill” to commemorate the disaster.

Related Topics: Coal MiningMining Safety

October 23, 1998
Dr. Barnett Slepian is shot to death at his home in Amherst, New York, by an anti-abortion terrorist.

Related Topics: Anti-Abortion MovementAnti-Abortion ViolenceTerrorism

October 24

October 24-29, 1929
The Wall Street Crash, comprised of successive stock market crashes on October 24, 28, and 29, triggers a massive financial crisis which leads to a world Great Depression that ends only when World War II stimulates the major capitalist economies.

Related Topics: Capitalism/HistoryCapitalist CrisesEconomic CrisesFinance CapitalFinancial BailoutsFinancial CrisesInternational Debt CrisisStock Markets

October 25

October 25, 1917
The date of the outbreak of the October Revolution in Russia according to the old Russian calendar in use at the time. This is equivalent to November 7 on the modern calendar in use in most of the world, which Russia also adopts after the Revolution. The events of the ‘October Revolution’ appear in Seeds of Fire in November.

Related Topics: Russian Revolution

October 25, 1983
The United States invades Grenada and overthrows its leftist government. It claims the invasion is necessary because Grenada, a 341-square-kilometre island with a mostly rural population of 90,000, possessing no air force, no navy, no missiles, and no standing army, poses a grave military threat to the United States.

Related Topics: InterventionU.S. Imperialism

October 26

October 26, 1888
Birth of Nestor Makhno (1888-1934), Ukrainian anarcho-communist and guerrilla leader.

Further Reading:
Manifesto of the Makhnovists
History of the Makhnovist Movement 1918 - 1921

Related Topics: Anarchist CommunismPeasant UprisingsRussian Revolution

October 26, 1977
Death of Ralph Borsodi (1886-1977), thinker and practical experimenter concerned with self-sufficiency and alternative ways of living, founder of the School of Living.

Further Reading:
A Decentralist Manifesto
Major Universal Problems of Living: A New Approach to Information

Related Topics: Agricultural PracticesAgriculture/Land TrustsAlternative LifestylesDecentralismFamily FarmsHuman ScaleLand TrustsRural Economic IssuesSelf-SufficiencySimple LivingSustainable Agriculture

October 27

October 27, 1810
U.S. President James Madison issues a proclamation annexing the Spanish colony of West Florida, which the United States has been seeking to take over for the past decade. The move opens the way for American settlers to take possession of the land they want and to institute slavery, which is illegal in Spanish territory.

Further Reading:
The 1810 West Florida Annexation Scheme

Related Topics: Colonies/SpanishColonies/U.S.U.S. HistoryU.S. Imperialism

October 27, 1864
The founding convention of the International Workingmen’s Association (the First International) adopts its “General Rules” which will express the basic orientation of the International and guide its actions. Written by Karl Marx, they begin with the unequivocal statement “the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves” – an insistence that liberation can only be self-liberation, that it cannot be imposed or bestowed by an outside organization or leader.

Further Reading:
The Principle of Self-Emancipation in Marx and Engels
The Two Souls of Socialism
Karl Marx: Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association

Related Topics: First InternationalMarxism OverviewsSelf-Emancipation

October 27, 1900
Some 4000 Quebec shoe workers are locked out by their employers, who want to break the workers’ union. The lockout continues until December 10, and is eventually settled by arbitration. The settlement recognizes workers’ rights to unionize, but subjects their union’s constitution to oversight by the Roman Catholic Church to quell radical tendencies.

Related Topics: Footwear IndustryLockouts

October 27, 1962
The world comes to the very brink of nuclear war. It escapes only by a hair’s breadth, thanks to a life-and-death decision by a Soviet naval officer.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, which has been building since October 14, is in danger of spiralling out of control because of the illegal and high-risk U.S. naval blockade of Cuba. On this day, reckless U.S. Navy commanders decide to drop depth charges on a Soviet submarine (B-59) present in the area. The targeted submarine is armed with a nuclear torpedo which it is authorized to launch if it is directly attacked. The three senior officers on the submarine are required to agree before a nuclear weapon is launched. Two of them want to launch, but the third, Vasili Arkhipov, refuses to agree, and so the launch is averted. Had the submarine fired its nuclear weapon, it is a virtual certainty that the United States and the Soviet Union would have been plunged into all-out nuclear war.
On the next day, U.S. President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev agree to an end to the crisis.

Further Reading:
The Week the World Stood Still: Cuban Missile Crisis and Ownership of the World

Related Topics: Cuban Missile Crisis

October 28

October 28, 1830
Josiah Henson reaches Canada with his family after escaping from slavery in Kentucky. Henson joins the anti-slavery movement and speaks publicly about his experiences, helping to build the growing movement against slavery.

October 28 - 31, 1918
Uprising in Hungary. Mass demonstrations in Budapest on October 28 demand independence for Hungary, then part of the Austrian empire. On October 30, the demonstrations turn into an uprising of workers, soldiers, sailors, and students. By the evening of the 31st, the insurgents have seized control of key positions and freed all political prisoners. Lacking organization and a plan of action, they then allow the initiative to slip from their hands. Liberal politicians led by Mihaly Karolyi take advantage of the opportunity to declare a ‘Hungarian Democratic Republic’ and form a government which promises reforms but accomplishes little.

October 29

October 29-30, 1918
German sailors in Wilhelmshaven mutiny against the Imperial Navy, whose commanders are planning to send them to their deaths, in a final ‘glorious’ battle, even though they know the war is lost.
The sailors’ revolt spreads quickly, and a larger mutiny takes place in Kiel on November 3. Sailors, soldiers and workers elect councils. In a few days, the monarchy is swept aside and on November 11 the war ends.

Related Topics: German HistoryMutiniesRevolts

October 29, 1923
Socialist/Communist coalition governments in the German states of Saxony and Thuringia are overthrown by the military.

October 30

October 30, 1899
Birth of Nadezhda Yakovlevna Mandelstam (1899-1980), Russian writer and memoirist. The wife of the poet Osip Mandelstam, who died in the Stalinist camps, Nadezhda memorized Osip’s poetry, which could not be published, in the hope that one day it would be possible to publish it. Many years later, after the death of Stalin, she was able to arrange for publication. She also wrote two volumes of memoirs, Hope Against Hope, and Hope Abandoned, which paint a vivid picture of the persecution and fear of the Stalinist Years. (The titles of the books encompass a word-play: ‘Nadezhda’ means ‘Hope’ in Russian.)

October 30, 1922
Benito Mussolini’s fascist Black Shirts march into Rome and seize power. The next day, Mussolini takes the office of prime minister and assumes dictatorial powers.

Related Topics: FascismFascism in ItalyItalian History

October 31

October 31, 1517
Martin Luther publishes his 95 theses by posting them on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The theses are a protest against clerical abuses, especially the sale of indulgences. They are rejected by the Church hierarchy but spread quickly throughout Europe, aided in part by the recent adoption of the printing press. Luther’s protest becomes the spark for the Protestant Reformation, which begins as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church but then becomes a schism resulting in the creation of new forms of Christianity, which become known as Protestant.

Further Reading:
A Marxist History of the World: The Reformation

Related Topics: Reformation

October 31, 1833
U.S. forces land in Buenos Aires to ‘protect American interests’ during an insurrection.

Related Topics: InterventionU.S. Imperialism

October 31, 1908
Birth of Muriel Duckworth (1908-2009), Canadian pacifist and social justice activist.

October 31 – November 7, 1913
The Indianapolis streetcar strike starts as a walkout by transportation workers. It leads to confrontations and riots, which end when the government promises concessions. In the aftermath, Indiana institutes its first minimum wage laws, regular working hours, a major increase in workplace regulations, and funds projects aimed at improving the city's tenement slums.

Related Topics: Strikes/U.S.

October 31, 1935
Birth of David Harvey, Marxist geographer and social critic.

October 31, 1978
30,000 Iranian oil workers go on strike against the brutally repressive rule of the U.S.-installed Shah.

Related Topics: IranStrikes



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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