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 18, 1566  
Death of Bartolome de las Casas, Spanish historian and priest. Las Casas is one of the early Spanish colonizers in the Americas, arriving in Hispanolia in 1502, where he owns a plantation using slave labour. In 1513 he participates in the Spanish conquest of Cuba, in the course of which the Spanish commit many atrocities against the indigenous Ciboney and Guanahatabey peoples.
The following year, Las Casas has a radical change of heart. He concludes that the actions of the Spanish in the American colonies constitute a great injustice. He gives up his plantation and frees his slaves, and begins to preach that the other colonists should do the same. He returns to Spain to plead the cause of the native peoples in the Americas, and is made bishop of Chiapas. In Chiapas, Las Casas refuses absolution to slave owners, even on their death beds, unless they first free their slaves.
He writes an account, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, which relates the mistreatment of the indigenous population, which he sends to the king in the hopes the king will end the injustices being perpetrated, as well as a three-volume History of the Indies.
Related Topics: ColonialismSlaverySpanish Empire
July 18, 1906  
Birth of Clifford Odets (1906-1963), American playwright, screenwriter, and left-wing activist. His plays Waiting for Lefty and Till the Day I Die, are agit-prop classics which cast a critical light on the failures of the capitalist economic system.
Related Topics: Playwrights
July 18, 1918  
Birth of Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid leader, political prisoner, first President of post-apartheid South Africa.
Related Topics: ApartheidSouth Africa
July 18 - September 4, 1940
Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese vice-consul in Lithuania, issues thousands of visas to Jews seeking to escape the Nazis.
Related Topics: HolocaustJewish HistoryLithuania

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