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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September 19, 1819  
A beautiful day in the English countryside. John Keats, twenty-three years old, ill with tuberculosis, goes walking in the country near Winchester, and then, “While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;” he returns home and writes To Autumn. It is the last poem he will write before tuberculosis kills him.
Related Topics: Poets
September 19, 1856
The United States invades Panama in order to ‘safeguard’ the Panama Canal, as it claims to have the right to do if it decides that the local government is ‘unfit’. More than 150 years later, the U.S. continues to claim the ‘right’ to intervene militarily any time, anywhere, it sees fit.
September 19, 1905  
Apostrophes lead to a revolutionary upheaval. On September 19, typesetters at a Moscow printing plant go out on strike. The strike arises out of a demand by the typesetters, who are paid on a piecework basis according to how many letters they set, to be paid for apostrophes. They also ask for a shorter working day. The employer refuses. The strike spreads: by September 24, fifty print works are out on strike. On the 25th, police attempt to crush the strike. They fail: other workers, including bakers, and then railway workers, go out on solidarity strikes. By October 7, Russia’s entire railway system is shut down by the strike, by October 12, a Russia-wide general strike is underway. Revolutionary soviets (councils) form in St. Petersburg and other cities. The government offers concessions while attempting to regain control; by 1906, it has succeeded in defeating the revolution – for the time being.
Related Topics: Revolutionary MomentsStrikesTypesetting
September 19, 1921
Birth of Paulo Freire (1921-1997), Brazilian educator and proponent of critical pedagogy.
Freire in conversation with Myles Horton: “It is a time of confrontation, this transition, the time of transition of the old society to a new one that does not exist yet, but it's being created with the confrontation of the ghosts. There are many ghosts in society fighting against the dream of a much more open society. Generally revolutions have this in common. We cannot decide this period cannot exist. We have to understand that it exists historically, culturally, socially. We must fight also. The struggle does not stop when the revolution is in power. It starts a new kind of struggle, new kind of fighting that all societies knew and are knowing.”
September 19, 1940
Witold Pilecki, a member of an underground Polish resistance group, deliberately sets out to be caught in a Nazi roundup, so that he will be sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The only person to voluntarily become an inmate in Auschwitz, his goal is to gather intelligence in Auschwitz and attempt to organize inmate resistance. Pilecki is able to smuggle out reports on what is happening in Auschwitz, providing evidence that it is a death camp. In 1943, he is able to escape and subsequently takes part in the Warsaw Uprising.

January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
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For more information about people and events in Seeds of Fire, explore these pages: