Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today in Labor History—January 17

January 17, 1536 – Francois Rabelais was absolved of apostasy by Pope Paul III and allowed to resume his medical practice. “Pantagruel” was published in 1532, which later became part of his larger work, “Gargantua and Pantagruel,” which satirized the nobility, the Church, the legal system, explorers, machismo and pretty much all that was sacred to the French ruling elite. Consequently, he was persecuted much of his life. Rabelais was said to have left a one sentence will: “I have nothing. I owe a great deal. The rest I leave to the poor.” (From the Daily Bleed and Wikipedia)

The Furred Law-Cats, From Gargantua and Pantagruel
THE FURRED Law-Cats are most terrible and dreadful monsters; they devour little children, and trample over marble stones. Pray tell me, noble topers, do they not deserve to have their snouts slit? The hair of their hides doesn’t lie outward, but inwards, and every mother’s son of them for his device wears a gaping pouch, but not all in the same manner; for some wear it tied to their neck scarfwise, others upon the breech, some on the side, and all for a cause, with reason and mystery. They have claws so very strong, long, and sharp that nothing can get from ’em what is once fast between their clutches. Sometimes they cover their heads with mortar-like caps, at other times with mortified caparisons.  Examine well the countenance of these stout props and pillars of this catch-coin law and iniquity; and pray observe, that if you live but six olympiads, and the age of two dogs more, you’ll see these Furred Law-cats lords of all Europe, and in peaceful possession of all the estates and domains belonging to it; unless, by divine providence, what’s got over the devil’s back is spent under his belly, or the goods which they unjustly get perish with their prodigal heirs. Take this from an honest beggar!  Among ’em reigns the sixth essence; by the means of which they gripe all, devour all, conskite all, burn all, draw all, hang all, quarter all, behead all, murder all, imprison all, waste all, and ruin all, without the least notice of right and wrong; for among them vice is called virtue; wickedness, piety; treason, loyalty; robbery, justice. Plunder is their motto, and when acted by them is approved by all men, except the heretics; and all this they do because they dare; their authority is sovereign and irrefragable. Should all their villany be once displayed in its true colours and exposed to the people, there never was, is, nor will be any spokesman could save ’em; nor any magistrate so powerful as to hinder their being burnt alive in their coney-burrows without mercy. Even their own furred kittlings, friends and relations would abominate ’em.

January 17, 1863 – The flush toilet was patented by Mr Thomas Crapper. (From the Daily Bleed)
Thomas Crapper Toilet at the Victor Horta Museum, Brussels (Image by Oxyman)
 January 17, 1873 – Four hundred federal troops were routed by Modoc Indians in the Tule Lake area of Northern California. (From the Daily Bleed)

January 17, 1898 – A two-day General Strike occurred in Ancône, Italy, following an increase in bread prices. Bread riots occurred in 50 other Italian towns, as well. The army occupied the city. Errico Malatesta and several other anarchists were charged with a "criminal conspiracy" against public security & property. During the trial 3,000 anarchists signed a declaration confessing to be guilty of the same crime. (From the Daily Bleed)
Lucy Parsons, 1920
 January 17, 1915 – Anarchist and organizer Lucy Parsons led hunger march in Chicago. (From the Daily Bleed)

Solidarity Forever (Weaver’s Version)

January 17, 1915 – Wobbly (IWW) Ralph Chapin published the famous labor song, "Solidarity Forever." (From Workday Minnesota and the IWW)
When the union's inspiration through worker's blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
For the union makes us strong.
Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite
Who would lash us into serfdom & would crush us with his might?
is there anything left to us but to organize & fight?
For the union makes us strong
In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand fold;
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old,
For the union makes us strong.
[Chorus]: Solidarity forever, Solidarity forever, Solidarity forever,
For the union makes us strong
Words by Ralph Chaplin

January 17, 1961 – Patrice Lumumba, anti-colonial fighter and former premier of the newly independent Republic of the Congo (Zaire), was assassinated by the CIA. (From the Daily Bleed)

January 17, 1997 – Holt Labor Library (San Francisco), which specializes in labor and radical history, fired both of its workers, Ali Bruce and Kurt Biddle. Both were involved in a union organizing effort at New College and the Holt Labor Library. (From the Daily Bleed)

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