Today in Labor History July 25, 1853: Joaquin Murrieta, the famous Californio bandit known as the “Robin Hood of El Dorado”, was supposedly killed. However, many disputed the news of his death. And people continued to claim to have seen him long after his death. According to legend, Murrieta was a 49er gold miner and a vaquero from Sonora. White men falsely accused him and his brother of stealing a mule. Consequently, hey horse-whipped him, hanged his brother and raped his young wife. Swearing revenge, he hunted the men who had violated her. The state of California offered a reward of $5,000 for him, “dead or alive.”
John Rollin Ridge published the novel “The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta: The Celebrated California Bandit” in 1854. In the early 20th-century, Johnston McCulley based his character Don Diego de la Vega (Zorro) on Ridge’s 1854 novel about Murrieta. Pablo Neruda wrote a play about Murietta, “The Splendor and Death of Joaquin Murieta.” And Isabel Allende’s “Daughter of Fortune” (1999), includes a portrayal of Murrieta.
Today in Labor History July 25, 1867: Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” was first published in Germany. In this book, he showed how capitalists pay workers less than the value of their labor and claim the right to this surplus value through property rights and the armed protection of the ruling elite. “Das Kapital,” is now the most-cited book in social studies published prior to 1950.
Today in Labor History July 25, 1890: After striking for seven months, New York garment workers won the right to unionize and secured a closed shop and the firing of all scabs.
U.S. Invasion of Puerto Rico
Today in Labor History July 25, 1898: The U.S. invasion of Spanish-held Puerto Rico began, as U.S. Army troops under General Nelson Miles landed and secured the port at Guánica. The U.S. claimed it was liberating Puerto Ricans from colonialism. However, the U.S. has kept Puerto Rico in a near-colonial non-state status ever since, exploiting its resources and people and granting only nominal rights to its residents.
“The Taste of Sugar,” (2020) by Marisel Vera, is a historical novel about los hambrientos roaming the countryside begging for food, as Puerto Rico prepares for war with the United States. In the wake of the war and a hurricane, a young family of coffee growers is lured to the sugar plantations of Hawaii, another US colony, where, not surprisingly, they continue to struggle to survive.
Today in Labor History July 25, 1902: Danbury Hatters (U.S.) struck at D.E. Loewe & Co.
Today in Labor History July 25, 1904: 25,000 textile workers went on strike in Massachusetts.
Today in History July 25, 1965: Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival, accompanied by Mike Bloomfield and Barry Goldberg, from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It was the first time he had performed with electric instruments and signaled a major change in folk and rock music. Many purists in the audience booed. Pete Seeger said he wanted to take an axe to the cables because it was so loud and distorted. He later claimed that the sound quality was poor and he merely wanted audience members to hear Dylan’s voice. Dylan claimed that Seeger’s response was like a dagger in his heart. In 2013, Dylan’s Newport guitar sold for $965,000.
Today in Labor History July 25, 2010: WikiLeaks published classified documents about the War in Afghanistan, one of the largest leaks in U.S. military history. The leak included 91,000 Afghan War documents, covering the period from January 2004 to December 2009. Prior to the release, WikiLeaks made the logs available to “The Guardian,” “The New York Times” and “Der Spiegel.” The Times said the leak “offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war.” The Guardian called it “one of the biggest leaks in U.S. military history … a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and NATO commanders fear neighboring Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency.” The documents also revealed that U.S. military contractors had hired local male child prostitutes.
As a result of the leaks, the U.S. government launched a criminal investigation into Wikileaks, and its founder, Julian Assange, who is currently under British custody. However, the U.S. has been fighting aggressively to get him extradited to the U.S., where he could face multiple life sentences for espionage