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 31, 1703
British author Daniel Defoe is forced to stand in the pillory prior to commencing a jail sentence after being convicted of seditious libel. Defoe’s pamphlet, The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church, purported to argue for the extermination of dissenters, but was actually a ruthless satire of the religious establishment, who reacted viciously.
July 31, 1811  
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Mexican priest and rebel, is executed by the Spanish colonial regime for his role in the Mexican War of Independence.
Related Topics: ExecutionMexico
July 31, 1859  
US troops land in Shanghai to ‘protect American interests’.
July 31, 1905
Start of the Maji Maji Rebellion in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) against German colonial rule. Germany, determined to extract as much profit as possible from its colony, had instituted a policy of forcing villagers to grow cotton for export, rather than food for their own use. They also conscripted men into forced labour on building roads and other amenities for the occupiers.
The rebellion lasts until 1907, when it is finally crushed, and results in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, many as a result of the German policy of using starvation to defeat the rebellion.
Related Topics: ColonialismEast AfricaGerman EmpireMass Murder
July 31, 1916  
The newly formed Mexican Regional Federation of Labour begins a general strike that starts with the electricians' union in Mexico City, blacking out the Mexican capital.
Related Topics: General StrikesStrikes
July 31, 1917  
Start of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres). By the time it ends on November 10, between 400,000 and 800,000 soldiers will have been killed or wounded.
July 31, 1919  
Birth of Primo Levi (1919-1987), Italian Jewish chemist and writer.
July 31 - August 1, 1922  
In Italy, a general strike against fascism begins. The strike is defeated, and Mussolini’s fascists crush the opposition to their rule.
Related Topics: Anti-FascismFascismFascism in Italy
July 31, 1932  
In the German election, Nazis win 230 Reichstag seats, Socialists 133, Center 97 and Communists 89.
Related Topics: German HistoryGerman Politics
July 31, 1936  
In Puerto Rico, Pedro Albizu Campos, Juan Antonio Corretjer, Clemente Soto Vélez and other independence fighters are sentenced to 6-10 years in federal prison.
July 31, 1941  
Hermann Göring directs Reinhard Heydrich to carry out the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’.
Related Topics: Final SolutionGenocideHolocaustNazi History
July 31, 1958  
Guerrillas form to oppose the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Related Topics: ChinaOccupied TerritoriesTibet
July 31, 1968  
Violent battles take place in Mexico City between students and Granaderos riot police.
Related Topics: Police ViolenceRiotsStudent Activism
July 31, 1977  
In France, 60,000 people demonstrate against the Super-Phoenix nuclear reactor. One person is killed.
July 31, 1992  
In Togo, a general Strike begins over the murder of an opposition leader.
Related Topics: General StrikesMurderTogo

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