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 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.
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.
October 1, 2012 Death of Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012), Marxist historian.
Industry and Empire
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.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, by Marek Edelman
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, 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.
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, 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.
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.
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, 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.
Fannie Lou Hamer’s speech to the Democratic Convention's credentials committee, 1964.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 7, 2006 Assassination of Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006) Russian journalist and human rights activist.
Related Topics: Political Murders
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.
Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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, 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.
October 12, 1909 Birth of Dorothy Livesay (1909-1996), Canadian poet and radical journalist.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Black Panthers Reconsidered
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.
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, 1854 Birth of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), playwright, poet, epigramist, and socialist.
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.”
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, 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
October 19, 1871 Birth of William Coaker (1871-1938), Newfoundland trade unionist known for organizing co-operatives.
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.
October 19, 1895 Birth of Lewis Mumford (1895-1990), writer on technology, cities, history, architecture, and literature.
The City in 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 22-29, 1922 Mussolini’s March on Rome, the fascist seizure of power in Italy.
October 22, 1960 Founding of the Committee of 100, a British anti-war group.
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.
October 22-27, 1996 The Days of Action, a series of demonstrations against the extreme-right Ontario government led by Premier Mike Harris.
Alien Invasion: How the Harris Tories Mismanaged Ontario
October 23, 1874 Birth of Otto Rühle (1874-1943), German Marxist revolutionary.
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.
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.
October 23, 1998 Dr. Barnett Slepian is shot to death at his home in Amherst, New York, by an anti-abortion terrorist.
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.
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.
October 26, 1888 Birth of Nestor Makhno (1888-1934), Ukrainian anarcho-communist and guerrilla leader.
Related Topics: Agricultural Practices – Agriculture/Land Trusts – Alternative Lifestyles – Decentralism – Family Farms – Human Scale – Land Trusts – Rural Economic Issues – Self-Sufficiency – Simple Living – Sustainable Agriculture
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.
The 1810 West Florida Annexation Scheme
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.
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.
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.
Related Topics: Cuban Missile Crisis
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 29-30, 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.
October 29, 1923 Socialist/Communist coalition governments in the German states of Saxony and Thuringia are overthrown by the military.
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.
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.
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.
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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