Today in Labor History July 28, 1794: The authorities guillotined Robespierre, architect of the French Reign of Terror. There are too many historical novels set during the French Revolution to name them all. However, here are some of the most famous ones. “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (1905) by Baroness Orczy. “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) by Charles Dickens. “Ninety-Three” (Quatrevingt-treize) by Victor Hugo. It was published in 1874, three years after the bloody upheaval of the Paris Commune.
Today in Writing History July 28, 1866: Beatrix Potter was born. She wrote “The Tales of Peter Rabbit.” She was also a scientist, by training, and a conservationist. She studied mycology and got her start in illustrating by doing field drawings of fungi.
Today in Labor History July 28, 1868: The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is certified, establishing African American citizenship and guaranteeing due process of law.
Today in Labor History July 28, 1907: In Raon-l’Etape, France, police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by strikers, killing two workers. Barricades were raised and the black flag of anarchism was raised.
Today in Writing History July 28, 1909: Malcolm Lowry, English novelist and poet (d. 1957). Wrote “Under the Volcano,” consider by some to be among the top 100 English-language novels.
Haitian Invasion & Occupation
Today in Labor History July 28, 1915: 330 U.S. marines landed in Port-au-Prince, marking the beginning of a 19-year occupation of Haiti. The occupation took place after President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam was assassinated by insurgents. Haitians rose up against the Americans in two major rebellions over the 19-year occupation. As a result, the U.S. forces slaughtered thousands of Haitians. Additionally, the U.S. was guilty of numerous human rights violations, including summary executions, censorship, concentration camps and torture. In 1929, during a peaceful protest in Les Cayes against the U.S. occupation, U.S. marines fired into the crowd, killing 12-22 innocent civilians.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Haiti’s president was just recently assassinated. Again. And, once again, the U.S. is talking seriously about invading and occupying the country, one of the poorest in the western hemisphere. The Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, is demanding “Boots on the Ground” in order to bring peace and stability, and to avoid “anarchy.” This is virtually identical to the reasons given by President Woodrow Wilson, in 1915. The real reason for the occupation then, and now, if Biden presses ahead with it, is to control Haiti’s natural resources and its labor for U.S. businesses.
The Silent Parade
Today in Labor History July 28, 1917: The Silent Parade took place in New York City, in protest against murders, lynchings, and other violence directed towards African Americans. Organizers set up the parade to protest the East Saint Louis race riots (May-July 1917), when whites murdered up to 200 African Americans. Additionally, the pogrom and arson attacks caused 6,000 black Americans to become homeless. While Woodrow Wilson was entering World War I to “make the world safe for democracy,” black Americans were asking when he’d do the same for them.
Today in Labor History July 28, 1932: General Douglas MacArthur, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower and their troops, on orders by Herbert Hoover, burned down a shantytown by unemployed veterans near the U.S. Capitol. They also shot and killed two veterans. 20,000 ex-servicemen had been camped out in the capital demanding a veterans’ bonus the government had promised but never given. Consequently, they called themselves the Bonus Army. Cavalry troops and tanks fired tear gas at veterans and their families and then set the buildings on fire. MacArthur and President Herbert Hoover said they had saved the nation from revolution.
The shootings are depicted in Barbara Kingsolver’s novel “The Lacuna.”
Today in Writing History July 28, 1946: Fahmida Riaz, Pakistani poet and feminist and human rights activist
Today in Writing History July 28, 1959: William T. Vollmann, American novelist, short story writer and journalist was born. The FBI investigated Vollman as a potential suspect in the Unibomber case. Vollman began cross-dressing in 2008 and developed a female alter ego named Dolores. Volmans
Today in Labor History July 28, 1976: The Tangshan earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 moment magnitude destroyed Tangshan, China, killing 242,769 and injuring 164,851. Some believe the true number of deaths is 2-3 times this many, making it one of the top three deadliest quakes ever.
Today in Labor History July 28, 2002: Nine coal miners, trapped in the flooded Quecreek Mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, were rescued after 77 hours underground
Today in Labor History July 28, 2005: The Provisional Irish Republican Army called an end to its thirty-year-long armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland