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  History from the grass roots . . .

This Week in History is a collection designed to help us appreciate the fact that we are part of a rich history advocating peace and social justice. While the entries often focus on large and dramatic events there are so many smaller things done everyday to promote peace and justice.

To the real peace advocates - YOU!

Publisher, Carl Bunin • Editor, Al FrankDetroit, Michigan
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This week at a glance.

July 7

•First U.S. draft
•Mother Jones leads her children
•Scientists at Pugwash
•Neutron bomb test
•No nukes in Black Hills

July 8
•Vermont first free state
•Glasgow women demand peace
•Omaha Action
•ICJ: Nukes illegal

July 9
•Draft opponents sentenced
•Scientists warn of WMDs

July 10
•Ineptness foils Klan attack
•Greenpeace attacked

July 11
•The Niagara Movement
•American Indian Movement
•Draft opponents cleared
July 12
•White House official convicted

July 13
•Civil War draft riot
•Niagara Declaration of Principles
•Live Aid

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July 7, 1863

The first military draft was instituted in the U.S. to provide troops for the Union army in the American Civil War. Once called, a draftee had the opportunity to either pay a commutation fee of $300 to be exempt from a particular battle, or to hire a replacement that would exempt him from the entire war.

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July 7, 1903

Labor organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones led the "March of the Mill Children" over 100 miles from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt's Long Island summer home in Oyster Bay, New York, to publicize the harsh conditions of child labor and to demand a 55-hour work week. It is during this march, on about the 24th, she delivered her famed "The Wail of the Children" speech. Roosevelt refused to see them.


The March of the Mill Children

continued (info, photos, links). . .

July 7, 1957

Convened at the onset of the Cold War, a group of scientists held their first peace conference in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada. The mission of the Pugwash Conference was to “. . . bring scientific insight and reason to bear on threats to human security arising from science and technology in general, and above all from the catastrophic threat posed to humanity by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction . . . .”

Bertrand Russell

Wealthy industrialist and Pugwash son Cyrus Eaton had invited the world’s greatest minds to his family home in Nova Scotia and address the emerging threat of nuclear war. The Conference became the basis for an ongoing organization that deals with issues of weapons of mass destruction. The 1995 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Joseph Rotblat (one of the original signatories of the Pugwash Manifesto) and to the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.
Albert Einstein

Pugwash home

Fifty years later . . . continued (info, photos, links). . .

Peace quote

"If you are religious, then remember that this bomb is Man's challenge to God. It's worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that You have created.
If you're not religious, then look at it this way. This world of ours is
4,600,000,000 years old. It could end in an afternoon."

- Arundhati Roy, 1998

July 7, 1977

The United States conducted its first test of the neutron bomb. The neutron bomb was a tactical thermonuclear weapon designed to cause very little physical damage through limited blast and heat but was designed to kill troops through localized but intense levels of lethal radiation.

A neutron bomb explosion at a test site

July 7, 1979

2,000 American Indian activists and anti-nuclear demonstrators marched through the Black Hills of western South Dakota to protest the development of uranium mines on sacred native lands.


July 8, 1777

Vermont became the first British colony in America to abolish slavery when adopting its first constitution following its breaking away from New York.

Read more on slavery in Vermont More on slavery in the northern states

There's more peace and justice history to see
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July 8, 1917

The Women's Peace Crusade organized a protest against the first world war in Glasgow, Scotland. Processions from two sides of the city, accompanied by bands and banners, wound their way toward the Glasgow Green where they merged into one demonstration of some 14,000 people.

The WWI peace movement

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July 8, 1958

In an effort called "Omaha Action", part of the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), anti-nuclear activist Don Fortenberry was arrested after climbing a fence to protest against the building of ICBM sites in Nebraska.
Also arrested during these series of actions was Internationally known peace activist A. J. Muste.

"Omaha Action" protestors march from Lincoln to the Mead ICBM construction site in 1959.
Source — NSHS.
More about Omaha Action

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July 8, 1996

The International Court Of Justice declared that, in almost all circumstances, use of nuclear weapons is illegal.


July 9, 1917

During World War I, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, leaders of the No-Conscription League, spoke out against the war and the draft. Both were found guilty in New York City of conspiracy against the draft, fined $10,000 each and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with the possibility of deportation at the end of their terms.

Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman in New York, 1917,
awaiting trial on charges of opposing the draft during World War I.

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July 9, 1955

Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell and nine other scientists warned that the development of weapons of mass destruction had created a choice between war and survival of the human species.

Albert Einstein Bertrand Russell

The Russell-Einstein Manifesto was published in London and became the basis for the Pugwash Conference of scientists two years later.

“Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.
The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations of national sovereignty....”

“We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves ... what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?”

Text of the manifesto

Albert Einstein
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July 10, 1976

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members near Georgetown, Illinois, gathered for an ill-fated cross-burning. The meeting started an hour late. When the Klansmen went to plant their cross, it was too heavy to move. Three hours later, after the cross was chopped down to a portable size, it was planted, but would not light.
Finally, the Klan members gave up and went home.

The ugly history of the KKK

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July 10, 1985

The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior (named after a North American Indian legend), was blown up in Auckland Harbour, New Zealand, killing one and sinking the ship.

The Rainbow Warrior then

The attack had been authorized by French President François Mitterand because the environmental organization had plans to protest France’s nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific.

The Rainbow Warrior today

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July 11, 1905

The Niagara Movement, precursor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was formed in Buffalo, New York. Meeting at the home of Mary Burnett Talbert were W.E.B. DuBois, John Hope and 30 others who rejected the accommodationist approach of Booker T. Washington (“The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly . . . .”)
Founders of The Niagara Movement at Niagara Falls

The Niagara Movement's manifesto was, in the words of DuBois, "We want full manhood suffrage and we want it now . . . We are men! We want to be treated as men. And we shall win."

The Niagara Movement and its founding principles

Peace quote

"We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil and social; and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans."

- W.E.B. Dubois, 1906

July 11, 1968

The American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by George Mitchell, Dennis Banks, Clyde Bellecourt and 200 others. They gathered to organize in order to deal with widespread and persistent poverty among native Americans, and unjust treatment from all levels of government.

American Indian Movement background

Peace quote

"What we did in the 1960s and early 1970s was raise the consciousness of white America that this government has a responsibility to Indian people. That there are treaties; that textbooks in every school in America have a responsibility to tell the truth..."
- Dennis Banks

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July 11, 1969

The federal appeals court in Boston reversed the convictions of Dr. Benjamin Spock and Michael Ferber who had been found guilty of conspiring to counsel evasion of the military draft in 1968. The judges considered their activities opposing the Vietnam War covered under the 1st Amendment right to free speech.
Dr. Benjamin Spock and
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Read "A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority" co-authored by Dr. Spock (1967)


July 12, 1974

John Ehrlichman, former top aide to President Richard Nixon, and three others were convicted of conspiring to violate a citizen’s civil rights. Ehrlichman had approved a recommendation for a covert investigation of Daniel Ellsberg in 1971 by writing on a memo: "If done under your assurance that it is not traceable."Looking for information to discredit Ellsberg, agents of President Nixon’s re-election campaign broke into the office of his psychiatrist.
John Ehrlichman

Ellsberg, a former Defense Deptartment analyst, had been responsible for public release of The Pentagon Papers, a collection of documents outlining the U.S. history and strategy in Vietnam, that had been classified as secret to avoid public scrutiny.

Simple Watergate chronology


July 13, 1863

Massive New York City protests decrying the first-ever wartime draft lottery led to bloody rioting over five days as a mob of 50,000 burned buildings (including looting and torching the Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue, though the 200+ children were unharmed), stores and draft offices, and attacked police. Some clubbed, lynched, and shot large numbers of blacks, whom they blamed for the war.

By the time troops returning from the Battle of Gettysburg finally restored order, 1200 had died over five days.
New Yorkers, spurred on by the Democratic leadership of Tammany Hall and tired of the seemingly endless war, had been angered by Pres
ident Abraham Lincoln’s recent call for 300,000 more troops.

New York City draft riot, 1863

They especially resented the legal provision allowing a cash payment ($300 commutation fee) as a way for those with the means to avoid military service in the Union Army.

continued (info, photos, links). . .

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July 13, 1905

A Declaration of Principles was issued by the Niagara Movement (the precursor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) following their conference in Buffalo, New York. Matters of concern included: realization of suffrage for all black men, as well as other civil liberties; economic opportunities for black Americans, especially in the South; access to education, especially high schools, trade and technical schools, and colleges; fair treatment in the courts and an end to the convict-lease system; fair treatment in employment wherein employers brought in black workers temporarily to keep down wages, and labor unions refused membership to blacks; an end to the color line, particularly in public transporation; fair treatment for black soldiers and access to military training schools; enforcement of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution passed in the wake of the Civil War.

continued (info, photos, links). . .

All great legislation grows out of mass movements organized by people like you and me.

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July 13, 1985

The first Live Aid concert raised $75 million for agricultural and technical assistance to Africa, many times what was expected. Described as the Woodstock of the ‘80s, the world's biggest rock festival (in London, Philadelphia, Moscow and Sydney, Australia, simultaneously and linked by satellite) was organized by Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.
Bob Geldof The Republic of Ireland (Éire) gave the most donations per capita, despite being in the throes of a serious economic depression at the time. The single largest donation (£1m) came from the ruling family of Dubai (Al Maktoum).
More about Live Aid '85

Paul McCartney and the finale at Live Aid

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