Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology

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

Compiled by Ulli Diemer

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July 14, 1789
Storming of the Bastille. Demonstrators in Paris attack the hated Bastille prison, symbol of royal authority in Paris, which is known to store a large quantity of arms and ammunition. A crowd numbering perhaps one thousand people surrounds the Bastille in the morning, demanding the surrender of the prison and the release of the arms stored inside. In the afternoon, negotiations break down and fighting begins. By late afternoon, the garrison surrenders and the people take possession. The successful insurrection becomes the flashpoint of the revolution that spreads across France.

The King, Louis XVI, meanwhile, has spent the day hunting, oblivious to events. He returns to Versailles towards evening, and writes a brief entry in his diary: “July 14: Nothing.”
Then a senior courtier, the Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, approaches him and tells him of the storming of the Bastille.
Shocked, the king exclaims: “Why – this is a revolt!”
“No, Sire.” La Rochefoucauld replies. “It is a revolution.”
Related Topics: French Revolution
July 14, 1877
Start of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. The strike is in response to the cutting of wages for the second time in a year by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O). Striking workers refuse to allow any of the stock to roll until this second wage cut is revoked. The governor sends in state militia units to restore train service, but the soldiers refuse to use force against the strikers and the governor calls for federal troops.
Related Topics: Strikes: United States
July 14 - 18, 1882
American forces intervene in Egypt.
Related Topics: EgyptInterventionU.S. Imperialism
July 14, 1889  
Founding of the Second International, an international organization of socialist and labour parties.
Related Topics: Second International
July 14, 1902
Death of William Still, who worked as a ‘conductor’ on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves in the U.S. South escape to freedom.
Related Topics: Anti-Slavery
July 14, 1912
Birth of Woody Guthrie, American songwriter and folk musician.
Related Topics: Songwriters
July 14, 1976  
Canadian Members of Parliament vote to abolish capital punishment.
Related Topics: Capital Punishment
July 14, 2011
People set up tents in a square in Tel Aviv to protest a lack of affordable housing. Others quickly join in to express their concern about a variety of social justice issues. On July 23 tens of thousands demonstrate in Tel Aviv. The protests continue into the fall, and push the government to promise action on housing and other issues.
Related Topics: Affordable HousingProtestTel Aviv

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For more information about people and events in Seeds of Fire, explore these pages: