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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May 7, 1839  
The Chartist campaign in Britain – named after the People’s Charter of 1837, demanding democratic reform – culminates in the presentation of a huge petition to the House of Commons. The petition is perhaps the most comprehensive expression of the popular will seen in Britain to that point: more than 1,280,000 people have signed it.
The goals of the movement are increased democratization of the political system, which has been set up to restrict political rights to a small elite. Demands include universal (male) suffrage; a secret ballot; no property qualifications for members of Parliament; payment for MPs (so the poor can serve); constituencies of equal size, and annual elections.
Members of Parliament, representatives of the very elite whose power the petitioners want to curtail, take their time in responding to the petition. They wait more than two months, and then, on July 12, they overwhelmingly (235 – 46) reject a motion that the petitioners be heard in the House of Commons.
This marks the high point of the first wave of the Chartist movement. The movement continues until the late 1840s, expressing itself in various working-class organizations as well as direct demands for political reform, but never manages to find the power to achieve the change it wants.
The goals of the Chartist movement are eventually achieved, after the movement itself has petered out, but the hoped-for result – democracy – is not.
May 7 - 22, 1873
American forces intervene in Colombia ‘to protect American interests.’
Related Topics: ColombiaInterventionU.S. Imperialism
May 7 - 9, 1898
The Bava-Beccaris massacre. Italian troops, including infantry, cavalry, and artillery, commanded by General Fiorenzo Bava-Beccaris, attack striking workers and their supporters in Milan. They kill 400 people and injure more than 2,000.
After the slaughter, Italy’s King Umberto praises the general and awards him the medal Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine Militare dei Savoia, saying that “You have rendered a great service to the King and to the Country.” The King’s praise of his murderous general costs him his life: shortly thereafter, Umberto is assassinated by an enraged worker.
May 7, 1926
American forces intervene in Colombia ‘to protect American interests.’
Related Topics: InterventionNicaraguaU.S. Imperialism
May 7, 1954
After a two-month battle, Viet Minh resistance forces inflict a decisive defeat on the French army at Dien Bien Phu in central Vietnam. Thousands of French soldiers are killed, more than 10,000 are taken prisoner. The Vietnamese victory marks the end of the French Empire in Indochina.
Related Topics: French EmpireIndochinaVietnam

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