The Peterloo Massacre published by Richard Carlile in 1819. Photograph: Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives
On the morning of 16 August 1819, an immense crowd poured into Manchester, perhaps the largest the town had ever seen.
They came in an orderly and peaceful fashion. Banners bearing slogans such as “Liberty and Fraternity” and “Taxation without Representation is Unjust and Tyrannical” flapped in the breeze, and bands played patriotic tunes including Rule Britannia and God Save the King. It was a fine and sunny day.
On they came in cheerful mood; organised contingents from Bolton and Bury; 6,000 marching from Rochdale and Middleton; others from Saddleworth and Stalybridge; 200 women dressed in white from Oldham, together with families bringing their children and picnics with them.
If later estimates that 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s Fields that day are correct, it means that practically half the population of Manchester and the surrounding towns (a crowd somewhat larger than that at Manchester City home matches today) had come to attend a meeting calling for parliamentary reform.
Having the vote mattered, they believed; it would change everything and force politicians to listen to their views and needs – and respond.
A young businessman, 25-year-old John Benjamin Smith, was watching with his aunt from a window overlooking the open space on the edge of the town near St Peter’s Church.
He later wrote: “There were crowds of people in all directions, full of good humour, laughing and shouting and making fun … It seemed to be a gala day with the country people who were mostly dressed in their best and brought with them their wives, and when I saw boys and girls taking their father’s hand in the procession, I observed to my aunt: ‘These are the guarantees of their peaceable intentions – we need have no fears.’”
The people were expecting speeches and a good day out. What they were not anticipating was violence, carried out by troops sent in to disperse them, so aggressively that 18 people would be killed and more than 650 injured in the bloodiest political clash in British history.
The Massacre of Peterloo! or a Specimen of English Liberty by JL Marks. Photograph: The Art Archive/Rex/Shutterstock
What happened at St Peter’s Fields would become known as the Peterloo Massacre – a name coined by a local journalist named James Wroe in punning reference to the Battle of Waterloo four years earlier.
Wroe paid for the joke by seeing his radical newspaper, the Manchester Observer, closed down, and was himself sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for seditious libel.
Read on via Source: The bloody clash that changed Britain | News | The Guardian
It was a time of great upheaval in Australia, when the ordinary people said “enough is enough”, and went out into the streets to protest.
The conflict in Vietnam was going poorly because the American and Australian Governments had so badly underestimated the strength and purpose of the North Vietnamese people.
The Vietnam Moratorium held in Melbourne on 5 May, 1970, was huge with veteran Labor Politician Jim Cairns taking centre stage in a stinging rebuff to the Coalition Government for its blind support of the American Government’s policies in South Vietnam.
Leading the Moratorium March Jim Cairns and Tom Uren (Front Row: fourth and third in from the right).
Harry Fain, coal loader. Inland Steel Company, Wheelwright #1 & 2 Mines, Wheelwright, Floyd County, Kentucky. 1946.via Wikimedia Commons
From the Mine Wars to Bloody Harlan, the coal miners of Appalachia have a long and storied history of fighting for the rights and protections often denied to them while mining the region’s rich bituminous coal.
So when men who had worked their whole lives underground began dying in increasing numbers from a chronic respiratory illness, their lungs literally blackened from years of inhaling coal dust, Appalachians did as they have often done.
As labor studies scholar Alan Derickson writes, they organized a grassroots movement to challenge the deadly working conditions in the coal mines.
Coal mining has always been a dangerous job, but by the 1950s, technological advances that automated some of the miner’s tasks, like the continuous miner, had succeeded in reducing the number of deaths and injuries from mechanical accidents.
But the new equipment also significantly increased miner’s exposure to coal dust, leading to a spike in the number of workers afflicted by black lung disease.
Eventually, over 40,000 workers participated in a strike that advocated for better workplace safety measures.
Black lung, also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, is a terminal respiratory condition caused by long-term exposure to coal dust. Particles of dust settle into the lungs, progressively weakening the organs and causing shortness of breath and coughing fits.
Later stages of the disease cause chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Because black lung can lie dormant for years, appearing long after a miner had left the job, coal operators denied the connection between coal mining and black lung for decades.
According to the Department of Labor, more than 76,000 miners have died from the disease.
Read on via Source: The Militant Miners Who Exposed the Horrors of Black Lung | JSTOR Daily