Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey

The list of players involved in the 20th-century social empowerment and civil rights movements for blacks could not be complete without the story of Marcus better conditions. By the time Garvey was a teenager he had become cognizant of the lines dividing blacks and whites.

Garvey supplemented his schooling with time spent reading from his father's library, fueling his own curiosities about the outside world. At 15 he began to learn the printer's trade, and in 1905 he moved to Kingston, Jamaica's capital city, where he eventually became a master printer. This knowledge of the printing business proved invaluable when he started his own newspapers and journals as a part of the organizations he founded.

By 1909 when he was 22, Garvey had learned that residents of Kingston liked to argue the sociopolitical ideas of the time. He found himself getting involved in these political and intellectual debates that dealt with the betterment of blacks in Jamaica and addressed the problems associated with imperialistic colonial rule.

Seeking other work in 1910, Garvey traveled to Costa Rica to work for the giant American-owned United Fruit Company. He was arrested for agitating for better working conditions, left Costa Rica, and began traveling around Latin America, noticing the generally oppressed state of black workers.

In 1912 Garvey went to England hoping to address Britain's colonial rule and its promotion of disparity between blacks and whites in the Caribbean and Central America. In London he got a job working for the Africa Times and Orient Review, one of the foremost Pan-African publications of the day.

Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1914 and immediately began the UNIA. His intent was to develop a separatist, nationalistic movement of international scope, meaning that it would allow the blacks of the world to eventually achieve a unified culture separate from the whites, including a separate country that would become a sovereign central nation for the world's blacks. These goals were the hallmark of "Garveyism."

Garvey came to America in 1916 to solicit the support of American blacks. In 1917 New York City's Harlem district was virtually the world's capital of black culture, and Garvey chose this as his temporary base. By 1918 Garvey was publishing Negro World, the internationally distributed paper that would be the voice of the UNIA, and he decided to stay in Harlem and run the UNIA headquarters from there.

Garvey's promotion of totally separate cultural spheres through his separatist ideals went so far as the conducting of (unsuccessful) negotiations between the UNIA and the African country of Liberia between 1922 and 1924 to allow establishment of settlements of black Americans. This caused considerable consternation among both blacks and whites in America and abroad.

Other prominent black-rights groups such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), led by the widely respected W. E. B. DuBois, increasingly criticized Garvey for hurting the cause of black unity and advancement. Garvey had his followers but was also criticized for his pursuit of racial separation, which was deemed counterproductive to the racial cooperation being sought by the NAACP.

Almost since his arrival in America, Garvey had been the object of scrutiny by governmental and corporate agencies that viewed his ideologies as subversive. Garvey was accused of fraud on several occasions because he attempted to start new businesses that would allegedly benefit the members of the UNIA but that proved to be financial fiascos.

The bestknown one was the 1919 venture known as the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation, which involved the purchase of obsolete ships using hopeful investors' money to start international freight and passenger shipping lines.

The end of Garvey's hopes for operating his organization from America came in 1922 when he and the top officials of the Black Star Line were indicted for mail fraud concerning the Black Star Line's business practices. Garvey's trial ended with a conviction in 1923, which he appealed. The appeal was rejected in 1925, and Garvey was sent to prison in Atlanta until 1927, when his five-year sentence was commuted. Upon his release, Garvey was deported back to Jamaica.

Garvey went back to England in 1928, where he unsuccessfully attempted to revive interest in the UNIA's goals. He died in London of complications from a stroke on June 10, 1940.

Geneva Conventions

The signing of the first-ever Geneva Convention by some of the major European powers in 1864
The signing of the first Geneva Convention in 1864

The Geneva Conventions and their subsequent protocols are a series of four treaties regarding the fundamental rules of humanitarian concerns of soldiers and noncombatants during warfare. They were first established in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1864. In addition, there are three protocols added to the Geneva Conventions that prohibit certain methods of warfare and deal with issues regarding civil wars.

The first Geneva Convention dealt exclusively with the care of wounded soldiers on the battlefield and was later amended to cover warfare at sea and prisoners of war. The Red Cross, an international philanthropic organization, was formed because of the First Geneva Convention. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was instrumental in campaigning for the ratification of the first Geneva Convention by the United States, which signed it in 1882.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), under the first Geneva Convention, chapter 1, article 3, was recognized as an impartial humanitarian body permitted to offer its services during conflicts, and its emblem would be recognized as a neutral organization to parties to the conflict. This was later amended to include the emblems of the International Red Crescent and the Red Lion and Sun humanitarian organizations.

In brief the seven fundamental rules that form the tenets of the Geneva Conventions and protocols are:
  1. Civilians not taking part in the conflict are entitled to respect for their lives and their moral and physical integrity; and shall in all instances be treated humanely.
  2. It is forbidden to kill or injure an enemy who surrenders.
  3. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for by the party to the conflict that has them in their power. Protection also covers medical personnel, establishments, transports, and equipment. The Red Cross and Red Crescent are two signs of such protection and must be respected.
  4. Captured combatants and civilians are entitled to respect for their lives, dignity, personal rights, and convictions. They shall be protected against acts of violence and have the right to correspond with their families and to receive relief.
  5. Everyone shall have the right to fundamental judicial guarantees. No one shall be subjected to physical or mental torture, corporal punishment, or cruel or degrading treatment.
  6. It is prohibited to employ weapons that would produce unnecessary or extreme losses or excessive suffering.
  7. Civilians shall be protected from attack and not the subject of attack. Attacks shall be directed solely against military objectives.

In 1949 each convention was revised and ratified after the horrific loss of human life in World War II. These revisions had their basis in part in the 1899 and 1907 Hague Peace Conferences, which were initiated by Russian czar Nicholas II to discuss peace and disarmament during the Japanese-Russian conflicts. The original Hague Peace Conferences led to the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the precursor to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

Tanaka Giichi

Tanaka Giichi
Tanaka Giichi

Tanaka Giichi was a Japanese soldier, politician, and prime minister of Japan from April 20, 1927, to July 2, 1929. He was born on June 22, 1863. Tanaka served in the Japanese military in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and quickly parlayed a successful combat campaign into a rapid ascent to positions of greater power. In 1915 Tanaka took the position of subchief of Central Major State and in 1920 the rank of general.

Prime Ministers Hara Takashi (1918–21) and Yamamoto Gonnohyoe (1923–24) appointed him war minister. During his tenure, Tanaka supported the Siberian Expedition, sending Japanese troops to Russia. He officially retired from military service in 1921 in order to work with and later lead the Seiyukai political party.

Tanaka, like many of his contemporaries, emerged as a significant military voice after Japan's decisive victory over Russia and when Japan dealt with the fallout of its own modernization program. Thus, Tanaka in many ways symbolized the new and modern Japanese military mind.

By 1927 Giichi successfully gained the position of prime minister and served concurrently as foreign affairs minister. His foreign policy was both aggressive and interventionist. Most notably, Giichi intervened militarily in Shandong (Shantung), China, in 1927 in order to prevent Chiang Kai-shek from uniting the country. Domestically, he worked to suppress opposition and has been accused of manipulating elections in order to extend his rule.

He is the reputed author of the "Tanaka Memorial"—the Imperial Conquest Plan for the taking of Manchuria, Mongolia, the whole of China, and then the Soviet Far East and Central Asia. Japan claimed the plan was a forgery. What cannot be denied, however, is that the so-called Tanaka plan reflected much of the foreign policy of Japan during the 1930s and 1940s and ultimately led to World War II.

His fall came from within his own administration. His supporter Kaku Mori, with ties to two secret Japanese societies, the zaibatsu and radical groups, was able to influence him and his policies as prime minister—the implementation of interventionist policies toward both Manchuria and Mongolia.

Thus, Japan backed in 1928 the successful assassination of Manchurian warlord Zhang Zolin (Chang Tso-lin) in an attempt to seize Manchuria. Due to quick Chinese response, the plotters failed to seize Manchuria until 1931 as a result of the Manchurian incident. Giichi's political career came to an end with his signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Opponents criticized him for exceeding his power and failing to take into account the sovereignty of the emperor. The failure in Manchuria and KelloggBriand led to his resignation and the succession of Hamaguchi Osachi as prime minister. He died on September 29, 1929.

Gold Coast (Ghana)

Gold Coast (Ghana)
Gold Coast (Ghana)

The modern West African nation of Ghana was called the Gold Coast until 1957. This small African country is nestled just under the continent as it juts out into the Atlantic Ocean a few miles above the equator. Ancient in its history and traditional in its ethos, the Gold Coast garnered its name from the Portuguese in the 15th century.

Calling the area "da Mina" or "El Mina," denoting the mines, the Portuguese were astounded at the vast deposits of easily accessible gold. By 1472 the Portuguese had built a fort at El Mina to facilitate the emerging Atlantic trade system in gold, ivory, salt, slaves, and timber.

Both historic and contemporary ties made Ghana a major cultural and symbolic icon in the consciousness of African Americans. Although the Gold Coast had several European nations as its primary trading partners, it is its British heritage that defines the contemporary nation.

Envious of Portugal's success and wealth, other European nations began to explore West Africa. By 1600 the Dutch had built several forts along the coastal inlets of the Gold Coast at Komenda and Kormantsil.

In 1637 the Dutch eclipsed the Portuguese as Ghana's major trading partner when they seized Elmina Castle, and in 1642 they confirmed their regional hegemony by forcing the Portuguese to retreat from Fort St. Anthony at Axim. Dutch success gave strength to the ambitions of other European powers.

Thus, the British, Danes, and Swedes started to engage in regular trade as they built their own forts along the Gold Coast. In these areas they exchanged alcohol, cloth, guns, and ammunition for African commercial and human commodities.

Having ruled the area and exploited its wealth for almost 300 years, the Dutch ceded their position in the Gold Coast to the British in 1872. Rushing to confirm the hegemony of the British Empire, England annexed the Gold Coast as a Crown Colony in 1878. But after fighting several wars with local chiefs, the British still only controlled part of the area.

Gold coast map

Despite the superior weapons and cohesion of the British military, it was not able to conquer the Gold Coast easily. Many different groups fought the British, who attempted to exploit local ethnic and regional divisions. By allying themselves with the Fante on the coast, the British became the enemies of the Ashanti.

This early and pragmatic decision cost the British thousands of lives over many decades. The Ashanti, foremost among the local groups who fought the British, proved England's most capable foe. From the time that the British sent ambassadors to Kumasi between 1817 and 1821 to discuss peace with King Osei Bonsu (the Asantehene) to their defeat in 1900, the Ashanti rejected British claims.

The Ashanti people were victorious during the 1823–24 Ashanti-Denkyira War, despite a British-Fante alliance that supported the Denkyiras. With superior armaments the British defeated the Ashanti at the Battle of Kantamanto near Dodowa, and in 1831 George MacLean signed a treaty with the Ashanti. Although this did not ensure the pacification of the region, by 1876 the British confirmed their mastery over the region by moving the capital to present-day Accra.

The last war in Ashanti history was led by Nana Yaa Asantewaa, the queen mother. She led an attack on the British fort in Kumasi in 1900 in response to the arrogant demand by Arnold Frederick Hodgson that the king deliver "the golden stool" to the British governor as a sign of surrender. The queen mother, having enormous power in a matrilineal society, led her people to war.

Despite courageous and skillful fighting, the Ashanti were defeated; however, refusing to violate the sanctity of the customary institutions, the elders provided a fake stool to the British as they sued for peace to end the bloodshed and save their nation. The ancient golden stool, the national symbol of sovereignty and power, remained hidden and has never been occupied by a European.

As part of the British Empire, confirmed and carved up at the Conference of Berlin in 1885, Ghana began to emerge as a modern nation-state. The British sent some of the most able African students to study in the United States and Europe. In addition, participation in two world wars allowed many soldiers from the Gold Coast to experience the Western world.

After World War II African soldiers and students returned home; students, members of the privileged elite, had not been indoctrinated as the British had assumed, but returned to begin the process of decolonization.

These educated men and women rejected their comfortable and safe lives as members of the colonial bureaucracy and established a series of political organizations designed to raise the political consciousness of the people.

Many realized that colonization was a form of economic exploitation and that the system was economically unfair to Africans and structured to the advantage of the British. Moreover, having been treated with dignity in Europe and America, these educated and sophisticated Africans chafed under the humiliations they often endured at the hands of local colonial administrators.

Kwame Nkrumah

In particular, Kwame Nkrumah, who had attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and read positive messages about being black written by Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Dubois, began to organize a nationalist movement. He was also influenced by the speeches and rhetoric of the Pan-African Conference held in Manchester, England, in 1945.

From this conference forward, Africans in particular and people of color in general began to question European notions of racial superiority, the administration of colonial justice, and the negative effects of imperial financial systems.

The agitation and anticolonial struggles in the Gold Coast forced the British to grant some local selfgovernment. Finally, despite false imprisonment, violent repression, and the manipulation of ethnic and religious hostilities, Britain had to concede to demands for independence. In 1957 the Gold Coast became an independent nation, the first independent nation in Africa south of the Sahara.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Mohandas K. Gandhi

The Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who dominated the Indian political scene for three decades, became an internationally acclaimed person for his nonviolent path of struggle to achieve Indian independence from British colonial rule.

Through ahimsa (nonviolence) and satyagraha (true force, nonviolent protest), he led one of the largest mass movements in world history. Gandhi dedicated his life to the quest for truth and justice. He was called the mahatma (noble soul).

In his varied career he led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, conducted passive resistance against the British, and dedicated his life to the uplift of millions of Indians. Gandhi had been criticized and vilified but remained true to his convictions and led a life of austerity and simplicity. He was born in Porbandar, Gujarat, India, on October 2, 1869, to Karamchand and Putlibai.

Gandhi was greatly influenced by the honesty and integrity of his father, who served as prime minister in the state of Rajkot. Putlibai's religious nature created a lasting impression on Gandhi. He married at the age of 13 to Kasturbai, a noble lady of high moral character.

Gandhi was also deeply moved by the saga of honesty, sacrifice, and dedication in Hindu mythology. After finishing his schooling he went to the Inner Temple in London in November 1888. He came back to India after three years and left for South Africa in 1893 to take up a legal career.

Gandhi's 20-year stay in South Africa was instrumental in the blossoming of his philosophy and his course of action against injustice. Humiliating experiences and the racial arrogance of the whites there made him determined to fight against apartheid. The official discrimination against nonwhites caused him to help the minority community of Indians. His creed was one of peaceful coexistence of all communities, regardless of color or religion.

Gandhi charted out a course of action of passive resistance against the government by demonstrations. He was deeply influenced by the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita, Jainism, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the literature of U.S. author Henry David Thoreau (1817–62), English writer John Ruskin (1819–1900), and Russian Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910).

In a campaign of passive resistance, nonviolence was the driving force, and noncooperation was the action itself. Gandhi organized campaigns and demonstrations against humiliating laws applied to nonwhites. He set up the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 to redress the grievances of Indian immigrants.

Gandhi became a prominent figure and was engaged in civil rights issues. He was in India twice for short visits and acquainted the editors of newspapers and Indian National Congress (INC) leaders with the conditions in South Africa. Gandhi journeyed on trains and was appalled by the condition of common Indians.

On his return to South Africa he changed his lifestyle to one of utter simplicity and also undertook to fast. Gandhi did not see the British as the enemy and was prepared to help them in case of need. At the time of the Boer War, he organized the Indian ambulance corps.

Gandhi was a prolific writer, and he wrote Hind Sawraj (Self-government of India) and published a journal, Indian Opinion, in 1904. He began to experiment with many novel ideas in the community firm that he set up in Phoenix. In 1910 he established another cooperative colony (Tolstoy Farm) for Indians near Durban.

Gandhi organized a satyagraha against the obnoxious laws of the Transvaal government, which required the registration of Indians. Gandhi was jailed several times during the agitation. General Jan Christiaan Smuts at last conceded to many of Gandhi's demands and brought about reforms. Gandhi decided to return to India.

Great Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, two days before Gandhi reached London. He organized a medical corps in August 1914. After his return to India the next year, he urged the people to support the British in their time of crisis. The colonial government rewarded him with a medal, and he earned the sobriquet "recruiting agent of the government."

Gandhi traveled the length and breadth of India. He took up the cause of indigo cultivators in Champaran and workers in Ahmedabad mills. He was emerging as a mass leader and gave a new direction to the Indian freedom movement under the congress. It became an umbrella organization that drew support from all classes of the population.

The Congress Party underwent a thorough revamping due to Gandhi's organizational skill. The Gandhian era in the Indian nationalist struggle began in 1919. After the draconian Rowlatt Act, which empowered the authorities to arrest and detain without trial, was passed, Gandhi called for a general strike in April 1919.

The government suppressed the agitation, and the brutality of colonial masters was evident after the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre of April 13. A large number of Muslims joined the congress after Gandhi's support of the Khilafat movement, which fought to preserve the authority of the Ottoman sultan.

With the noncooperation movement under Gandhi's leadership, a new phase of struggle against the British Raj began. A special session of the AICC met in Calcutta in September 1920 to start the movement with a boycott of educational institutions, law courts, elections, and legislatures.

There was to be the promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity, along with use of homespun garments of khaddar. The goal was the attainment of swaraj, or self-government. The December annual session held in Nagpur endorsed the idea. A large number of students, women, peasants, and workers from different parts of the country participated.

Demonstrations and strikes greeted the November 1921 visit of the prince of Wales. Noncooperation and Khilafat went hand in hand under Gandhi, who had renounced the title of kaiser-i-hind that had been conferred on him by the British. Following a policy of repression, the government banned the Khilafat and congress.

After police fired on demonstrations on February 5, 1922, at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh, the police station was attacked, resulting in the death of 22 police personnel. Gandhi was stunned by this path of violence and suspended the noncooperation movement. He was steadfast in his commitment to nonviolent methods. Freedom through violence was not on his agenda.

People in general and INC leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964) and Subhas Chandra Bose (1897–1945) were annoyed by the decision, and some congressmen, like Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), launched a program of council entry through the newly formed Swaraj Party of 1923. Gandhi was arrested in March 1922 and given six years' imprisonment for treason in an Ahmedabad court.

Gandhi was not only interested in swaraj, but also in the social and economic emancipation of the people. He was a crusader for economic and social reforms. His emphasis on swadeshi meant the use of hand-made goods from his home country rather than foreign machine-made goods.

People were mobilized to boycott foreign goods. Handicraft was emphasized in education also. The hand weaving of dresses and the development of handicrafts, Gandhi hoped, would be a panacea for India's poverty, economic backwardness, and unemployment.

Gandhi's economic philosophy was also part of his strategy against colonial rule, as the boycott of foreign goods would adversely affect British industry. Gandhi was not opposed to industrial revolution per se, but he desired to create a framework, keeping in mind the economic condition of India under alien rule.

Gandhi was back on the political scene in 1930 with his movement of civil disobedience. He launched the salt satyagraha with his famous Dandi March in March 1930. He and his followers covered a distance of 241 miles to the Arabian Sea to make salt.

These civil disobedience movements witnessed participation in large numbers by tribal people, peasants, and women. Gandhi was arrested in May, but the British government agreed to negotiations. The movement was suspended by the pact signed between Gandhi and Viceroy of India Lord Irwin (1881–1959) in March 1931.

He also was the INC delegate to the Second Round Table held in London, but the British government refused to grant self-government to the Indians. Gandhi was jailed again, and the civil disobedience movement was withdrawn by him in May 1934.

Gandhi devoted himself to social and economic reconstruction work. Indian politics began to change at the time of World War II. Gandhi had a difference of opinion with Subhas Bose, who parted from the congress. The British were not in a mood to give independence, and Gandhi launched another movement.

With the call of "Do or Die," the Quit India Movement was launched on August 8, 1942, and spread throughout the country. The British could not hold to the empire after the war due to domestic difficulties and offered India independence. India experienced unprecedented communal violence, and Gandhi toured the riot-affected area in support of Hindu-Muslim unity.

The demand for the creation of Pakistan had been raised, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1948) was relentless in his pursuit of the two-nation theory. Talks between Jinnah and Gandhi failed. Partition was inevitable.

Gandhi's insistence that Pakistan should get its due share of monetary assets angered Hindu fundamentalists. A fanatic named Nathuram Godse (1910–49) assassinated him on January 30, 1948, while he was on his way to evening prayers.

Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman, also known as "Red Emma," was born to Jewish parents on June 27, 1869, in Kaunas, Lithuania (Kovno, Russia) in a climate of mounting czarist repression marked by periodic pogroms. In order to avoid such threats her family moved when she was 13 to St. Petersburg. Economic circumstances, however, ended her formal schooling and forced her to take up work as a corset maker in a factory.

In an effort to improve family prospects, Goldman and her half sister immigrated to America, where they joined another sister in Rochester, New York. There Goldman gained employment at $2.50 a week as a seamstress in a clothing factory. Events surrounding the Chicago Haymarket Square riots of 1886 and the subsequent trial, conviction, and hanging of the accused agitators drew her into the anarchist cause.

Following a short marriage to Jacob Kershner, Goldman, now age 20, headed east, first to New Haven, Connecticut, and eventually to New York City, where she soon fell under the influence of Johann Most (1846–1906), a revolutionary editor of a German paper.

Goldman's political development also saw her embrace the anarchist teachings of Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921) with their emphasis on individualism and revolution. She accepted the concept of "propaganda by deed" and supported friend, sometime lover, and fellow anarchist Alexander Berkman's 1892 plot to assassinate Carnegie Steel industrialist Henry Clay Frick. The attack only injured Frick but nevertheless brought Berkman a 22-year prison sentence.

Although Goldman was not convicted, she did receive a year in New York's Blackwell Island Prison on a separate charge of encouraging the unemployed to use force to achieve their demands. A further arrest came in 1901 following Leon Czolgosz's (1873–1901) assassination of President William McKinley; however, Goldman was ultimately not charged.

In 1906 following Berkman's parole from prison, Goldman joined him and began editing the monthly journal Mother Earth, which ran until 1917. Mother Earth became a forum for her writing and anarchist feminist political ideas. Her radical propaganda was winning her more enemies than friends, though, and in 1908 her citizenship was revoked.

In 1914 she was again accused of involvement in bombing plots, this time supposedly against the oil baron J. D. Rockefeller, and in 1916 she was imprisoned for distributing birth control leaflets. Berkman at this stage had moved to San Francisco and was contributing to another anarchist journal, the Blast.

The coming of World War I prompted Goldman to campaign against U.S. participation, and she, along with Berkman, led No Conscription League protests, which conflicted with the 1917 Espionage Act. Searches of her offices produced incriminating documents and information on fellow revolutionaries. The material and correspondence would later aid investigators in their roundup of radicals.

Her antiwar activities and agitation brought her further legal attention and another jail sentence, this time of two years. While in prison she developed a friendship with Gabriella Segata Antolini, a fellow anarchist and an associate of the radical anarchist editor Luigi Galleani (1861–1931).

The immediate aftermath of World War I, coming on the heels of the 1917 communist revolution in Russia, produced heightened U.S. fears of radical subversion. The U.S. attorney general, A. Mitchell Palmer, supported by eager federal investigative agents such as the young J. Edgar Hoover, instituted a campaign, subsequently labeled the Red Scare of 1919–20, to deport immigrant radicals as undesirable aliens.

Goldman and Berkman found themselves in this group, and on December 1, 1919, they and 247 other radicals were put on the U.S.S. Buford for transport to Russia. This journey took them to the heartland of the unfolding Bolshevik Revolution. Communist actions soon undercut their initial enthusiasm for this socialist experiment.

Leaving Russia in 1921, Goldman divided her time between England and France and eventually acquired a house in Saint Tropez. In 1931 while living in the south of France, she completed her autobiographical volume, Living My Life. Now in possession of a British passport, she was able to travel and lecture, even returning to the United States for a lecture tour in 1934.

The rise of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s gave Goldman new opponents for her political campaigns, and the coming of the Spanish civil war in 1936 provided her with a new cause to champion. However, shortly before the outbreak of the war in 1936 she suffered the loss of her longtime companion and anarchist associate, Alexander Berkman, who after suffering from serious pain and chronic illness committed suicide. Visits to Spain in 1937 and 1938 convinced Goldman that more action was needed, and she joined with others to help the Committee to Aid Homeless Spanish Women and Children.

While on a visit to Toronto, Canada, Goldman suffered a stroke and died on May 14, 1940. U.S. authorities permitted her burial in what is now the Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, close to the burial plots of the executed Haymarket Riot anarchists.

Juan Vicente Gómez

Juan Vicente Gómez
Juan Vicente Gómez

The dictator who controlled Venezuela from 1909 until 1935, Juan Vicente Gómez was officially president on four occasions, from 1909 until 1910, from 1910 until 1914, from 1922 until 1929, and from 1931 until 1935. As a result of the brutal manner in which he ran the country, he was either known as El Brujo ("the sorcerer") or simply El Bagre ("the catfish").

It is not known for certain when Juan Vicente Gómez was born, although it was probably on July 24, 1857. He was of Indian ancestry, and he was born at San Antonio del Táchira in the northwest of Venezuela, close to the border with Colombia.

Despite having no formal education—he was barely literate—he rose to prominence around his hometown and joined the private army of Cipriano Castro in 1899. When Castro captured Caracas in October 1899, he became president and appointed Gómez his vice president. In this capacity Gómez was able to crush attempts to oust Castro.

However, on December 20, 1908, when Castro was in Europe recuperating from an illness, Gómez seized power, and in February 1909 he took the opportunity of appointing himself provisional president, becoming president when Castro was formally deposed on August 11. From then until his death, he controlled the country either directly or through "puppet" presidents.

On April 19, 1910, Gómez formally stood down as president, appointing Emilio Constantino Guerrero acting president. However, Guerrero was replaced 10 days later by Jesús Ramón Ayala, who lasted just over a month, until June 3, when Gómez became president for the second time.

On April 19, 1914, he was replaced by Victorino Márquez Bustillos, who remained in office as provisional president for eight years until Gómez reassumed the presidency again on June 24, 1922.

For most of that time, all important decisions were still made by Gómez from his home at Maracay. He then relinquished the position to two successive acting presidents, Juan Bautista Pérez and Pedro Itriago Chacín. On July 13, 1931, Gómez began his fourth term, which ended with his death.

During his time running Venezuela, Gómez ensured that the country achieved a degree of economic independence but with rampant corruption managed to make himself reputedly the wealthiest man in South America.

Much of the wealth of the country came from oil, which in 1918 was found near Lake Maracaibo. Gómez drove a hard bargain with the British, Dutch, and U.S. oil companies, using the newly found wealth to pay off Venezuela's national debt as well as enrich himself.

By the late 1920s Venezuela was the world's largest exporter of oil. Gómez was ruthless to political opponents, who were jailed by the thousands. Many were put in huge leg irons, crippling them for life, and others were hung by meat hooks until they were dead.

At the same time Gómez started acquiring companies, farms, and industrial concerns for himself. He had spies and agents keeping a constant watch on the population, and his army was always one of the best equipped in South America.

Gómez destroyed much of the power of the local political caudillos and also the Roman Catholic Church. He protected his own herds of cattle from disease but allowed those of others to suffer.

Although he personally did not like coffee, he owned many coffee plantations as well as sugarcane plantations and ranches. Gómez himself lived in the governor's palace in Maracay, which was equipped with escape passages. It was said that the reason why the town had such good roads was in case he had to flee.

He never drank or smoked but had affairs with many women and boasted that he had fathered between 80 and 90 children. Many of these were given jobs in the public administration, giving rise to charges of nepotism. Even when he was dying, Gómez was still searching for a woman to marry so that he might have at least one legitimate child.

He died on December 17, 1935, at Maracay and was buried in a massive mausoleum he had built some years earlier in the town's cemetery. As soon as news reached Caracas and other places, people rushed into the streets to cheer and celebrate for two days.

In an orgy of pent-up rage, they looted or burned down houses of his relatives and supporters and even attacked the oil installations at Lake Maracaibo. His political opponents and some allies turned on his family. His property, valued at $200 million at his death, was seized by the state, and most of his children were forced into exile.

Samuel Gompers

Samuel Gompers
Samuel Gompers

Samuel Gompers, who ushered in a new era of organized labor in the United States, was born on January 27, 1850, in London. At the age of 13 he emigrated and settled on Houston Street, New York. He was interested in trade union activities and joined the local United Cigar Makers in 1864.

He became the president of the Cigar Makers' International Union (CMIU) in New York City at the age of 25. Gompers was very much concerned with the plight of labor at a time when labor unions were not very strong.

A man of conservative outlook, he preferred to work within the capitalist system. He was not in favor of independent political action and radicalism, was opposed to violence, advocated a moderate approach, and hesitated to call strikes. His agenda was provision of basic needs for workers: shorter work hours, more wages, safe working environments, and union protection.

He became one of the founding members of the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions (ATLU), which was established in 1881. Gompers was the chairperson and remained the vice president for five years. In 1886 it changed its name to the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and Gompers was its president for 40 years.

The governing philosophy behind the AFL was similar to that of the ATLU. Gompers was convinced that craft unions were far better organizations for extracting maximum concessions than industrial unions. The former were restricted to skilled workers in one particular trade, whereas the latter could organize workers of any skill in a particular industry.

For Gompers, economic organization was essential. Persons were employed to recruit new members from nonunion shops. An emergency fund was created for the workers in case of a strike. Under the leadership of Gompers, the AFL swelled in membership. From a membership of 250,000 in 1890, the AFL increased to 1.7 million by 1904. Gompers also helped to establish the Women's Trade Union League in 1903.

Although Gompers was not aligned with any political party, under his stewardship the AFL supported prolabor candidates in elections. The AFL also was instrumental in enacting measures in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures that were favorable to labor.

President Woodrow Wilson appointed Gompers a member of the advisory committee to the Council of National Defense, which was created by Wilson to outline areas of the economy vital in a time of war. Gompers was instrumental in mobilizing labor support for the war effort. He also joined the National War Labor Board, created in April 1918, which gave the workers an eight-hour day, equal pay for women doing equal work, and a minimal living standard.

Gompers was at the Paris Peace Conference after the end of World War I as a member of the Commission on International Labor Legislation for creating an organization with international dimensions under the League of Nations. As chairperson, he was responsible in a substantial way for the creation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Gompers helped various labor federations in Latin American countries. In 1921 he attended the congress of the Pan-American Federation of Labor in Mexico City despite deteriorating health. He had to be taken to the hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where he died on December 13, 1924.

Gompers's efforts had resulted in a definite wartime labor policy of the U.S. government, and this policy was the foundation of the labor rights stipulated in the New Deal. Gompers had left a lasting impression not only in the history of the AFL, but also on the whole of the U.S. labor moment.

David Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion

Born as David Josef Gruen in Plonsk, Russia, David Ben-Gurion studied the "Lovers of Zion" movement at a school established by his father. At an early age he met and greatly admired Theodore Herzl, the founder of the International Zionist Movement, who died when Ben-Gurion was 18.

It was from then on that he was determined to carry through with what Herzl had only dreamed of—the establishment of a Jewish state. Because of his determination and in fear of the widespread anti-Semitism that plagued eastern Europe, Ben Gurion moved to Palestine in 1906.

He initially worked as a laborer and remained active in the Poalei Tzion movement, which he joined at 17. In 1910 he was elected a member of the editorial board of the Achdut (unity) newspaper and shortly thereafter adopted the Hebrew name David Ben-Gurion.

In hopes of changing the anti-Zionist Ottoman policies in Palestine he went to Constantinople, Turkey, in 1912 to study law and government. At the outbreak of World War I Ben-Gurion returned to Palestine but was arrested as a known member of Poalei Tzion and was deported.

He moved to New York City and began Hehaulutz, the American wing of Labor Zionism, and in 1917 married Paula Munweis, with whom he had three children. Certain that the Ottoman authorities would never support Zionism, he strategically altered his plans and joined Ze'ev Jabotinsky's call to form Jewish battalions within the British Army to liberate Palestine from the Ottoman Empire.

Ben-Gurion and his family returned to Palestine in late 1918. Ben-Gurion formed the Histadrut, the Federation of Laborers in Israel, in 1920 and was elected secretary-general in 1921. He also established the Haganah, the paramilitary force of the Labor Zionist movement, which facilitated underground Jewish immigration and provided the backbone of the future Israel Defense Force (IDF).

In 1930 Ben-Gurion formed the Israel's Workers Party, Mapai, which became the government during the first three decades of Israel's existence. He was elected chairman of the Zionism Executive and chairman of Histadrut, was regarded by the British as the official representative for the Jews in Palestine, and was instrumental in purchasing arms from Europe.

Ben-Gurion was elected the leader of the World Zionist Organization's Department of Defense in 1946. From this and his other positions he pressured the British to either grant the Jews a state in Palestine or to quit the mandate. In 1947 Britain chose the latter.

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion announced Israel's declaration of independence and became leader of its provisional government. The surrounding Arab nations invaded Israel, and violence increased between the Arabs in Israel and the Jews.

Ben-Gurion recognized the rationale of Arab objections to Zionism early on and was aware of the nature of the clash between two genuine claims to the same land; however, he and others believed that the establishment of a Jewish homeland was crucial for the survival of Judaism.

Equipped with a stronger military force, Israel defeated the Arabs, and Ben-Gurion became the prime minister on February 26, 1949, a post he held until 1963 except for a period of two years (1953–55). In 1970 he resigned from politics altogether and worked on his autobiography at Kibbutz Sde-Boker until his death in 1973.