Today in Indigenous History July 19, 1817: Georg Anton Schäffer failed in his attempt to conquer the Kingdom of Hawaii for the Russian-American Company. The attack lasted 2 years, but Native Hawaiians fiercely resisted. Ultimately they forced him to concede defeat and flee Kauai. As a result, the company lost 200,000 rubles.
Today in Women’s History, July 19, 1848: The famous two-day Women’s Rights Convention opened in Seneca Falls, New York. Organizers promoted it as “a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious rights of woman.” Female Quakers organized the meeting with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Many of the attendees opposed the inclusion of women’s suffrage in their Declaration of Sentiments. However, Frederick Douglass, the only African American attendee, argued strongly for its inclusion. As a result, attendees ultimately voted to retain the suffrage resolution.
“Seneca Falls Inheritance,” by Miriam Grace Monfredo, is a historical novel that takes place at the time of the convention. Lisa Tetrault argues in her book, “The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898,” that Stanton and Anthony pushed the idea that Seneca Falls was the birthplace of the movement in order to maintain their centralized control of the movement. She further argues that this myth downplays the role of African American activists and abolitionists in the early women’s movement.
Today in Writing History, July 19, 1875: Alice Dunbar Nelson, American poet and activist was born. She was a prominent part of the Harlem Renaissance. She published her first collection of short stories and poems, “Violets and Other Tales,” in 1895. In the 1910s, she co-founded the Equal Suffrage Study Club and was a field organizer for the woman’s suffrage movement. In the 1920s-1930s, she was active in the movements for African Americans’ and women’s rights. She also campaigned for the passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill and spoke in support of the Scottsboro defendants.”
Today in Labor History July 19, 1877: In the midst of the Great Strike of 1877, Pittsburgh workers drove soldiers out of town. Trainmen took control of the railroads in Pittsburgh to protest wage cuts. Two days later, National Guard moved in, killing 20 people.
Today in Labor History July 19, 1936: The fascists, led by Franco, attempted to overthrow the elected government in Spain. This triggered the start of the Spanish Civil War. The CNT and UGT called a General Strike to mobilize workers’ militias against the Nationalist forces.
Today in Labor History July 19, 1979: The Sandinista rebels overthrow the government of the Somoza family in Nicaragua.