Monday, August 20, 2012

Today in Labor History—August 20

August 20, 1619 – The first group of 20 Africans slaves landed at Jamestown, Virginia. (From the Daily Bleed)
(Ship Ahoy, the Ojays, 1973)
William Sylvis, 1828-1869
August 20, 1830 – The first Negro convention was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

August 20, 1866 – The short-lived National Labor Union (U.S.) was formed on this date and called for the 8-hour workday. The union, led by William H. Sylvis, was the first American labor union to unite skilled and unskilled workers (preceding the Industrial Workers of the World by nearly 40 years). At its height, the union had 640,000 members.

Haymarket Martyrs' Memorial
August 20, 1886 – Sentences were handed down on this date against The Haymarket defendants. All were found guilty despite the obvious innocence of most of them. None were even present at the scene of the bombing at Haymarket Square, Chicago, where activists had been organizing for the 8-hour day. Seven of the eight defendants (George Engel, Samuel Fielden, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg, Albert Parsons, Michael Schwab and August Spies) were condemned to death. Oscar Neebe was sent to prison for 15 years. The hangings occurred on November 11, 1887.

August 20, 1898 – Fourteen weeks after beginning a walkout, the Amalgamated Woodworkers Union of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, ended its strike.

August 20, 1904 – Miners seized the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, and deported officials.

August 20, 1909 – The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was engaged in a free-speech fight in Fresno, California.

August 20, 1914 – An office for the Parrot Mine in Butte, Montana was dynamited on this date. In March 1912, Amalgamated Copper fired 500 miners, accusing them of being Socialists. In December they imposed a blacklist to exclude workers with affiliations to leftist and labor organizations. Pinkerton and Thiel detective agencies infiltrated the union to mark agitators and provoke violence in order to weaken the union.
Image from the Daily Bleed
 August 20, 1968 – The Soviet Army invaded Prague with tanks and more than 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops ultimately crushing the "Prague Spring."

(All above entries based on citations from the Daily Bleed)

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