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 13, 1846
The United States declares war on Mexico. Support for the war comes from those, like President Polk, who see territorial expansion as America’s “Manifest Destiny,” and from southern slaveowners who want to add more slave-owning territory to the U.S.
Abraham Lincoln, then a member of Congress, speaks against the war, which he describes as an expression of President Polk’s desire for “military glory – that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood.”
The war ends in 1848 when Mexico is forced to accept a treaty giving the U.S. possession of all or most of the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming.
Related Topics: MexicoU.S. Imperialism
May 13, 1888
Brazil, which has imported more African slaves than any other country (nearly 40% of the 11 million Africans shipped to the western hemisphere), finally abolishes slavery.
Related Topics: BrazilSlavery
May 13, 1901
Birth of Witold Pilecki (1901-1948), Polish resistance leader. A member of the resistance in Nazi-occupied Poland, in 1940 Pilecki deliberately allows himself to be swept up in a Nazi raid in order to be sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. His plan, approved by the resistance organization, is to go to Auschwitz in order to document the atrocities taking place there and inform the world what is taking place. He remains in Auschwitz until 1943, smuggling out regular reports. His reports provide the Polish government in exile with the information it needs to convince the Allies that the Holocaust is taking place.
In April 1943, he and two comrades escape, taking with them stolen documents.
In 1944, he takes part in the Warsaw Uprising, is captured by the Germans, and imprisoned until the end of the war.
After the war, and the Stalinist takeover of Poland, Pilecki documents crimes being committed by the new regime. The regime imprisons him, and executes him on May 25, 1948.
May 13, 1932
“We Want Beer” marches are held in cities all over the United States as opposition to Prohibition continues to grow. Prohibition is repealed the next year.
May 13, 1968
Workers join students in Paris in a one-day general strike. More than a million people march.
Related Topics: Mass Strikes1968Strikes
May 13, 1969  
In Tucumán, Argentina, former workers of a sugar mill take the factory and its manager as hostage, demanding to be paid their unpaid wages.
Related Topics: ArgentinaFactory Occupations
May 13, 1985  
Philadelphia police drop two bombs on the home of a black political group called MOVE, killing 11 people, including five children. The resulting fire also destroys 65 homes in the surrounding neighbourhood.
May 13, 2000  
An explosion destroys a fireworks factory located in the middle of a working-class neighbourhood in Enschede, Netherlands. At least 20 people die and 600 are injured. 400 homes are utterly destroyed and more than 1000 severely damaged.
Related Topics: Disasters

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