October 31, 1829: George Henry Evans published the first issue of the Working Man’s Advocate, “edited by a Mechanic” for the “useful and industrious classes” in New York City. He focused on the inequities between the “portion of society living in luxury and idleness” and those “groaning under the oppressions and miseries imposed on them.” October 31, 1891: during the spring of 1891, free miners working for the Tennessee Coal Mining Company went on strike in Briceville, Tennessee, after the company demanded that all miners sign an iron-clad contract with draconian terms. In response to the strike, the company evicted the miners from their homes, built a stockade, and leased dozens of state prisoners to replace the free workers. Using convict labor, the mine reopened on July 5, 1891. Two weeks later, on July 14, three hundred armed miners stormed the stockade and marched the convicts out of the valley, shutting down the mine once more. In response, Governor John P. Buchanan marched the state militia into the valley and, on July 16, met the miners just north of Briceville to plead for peace. The miners refused to accept the mining company’s treatment, and instead demanded that the governor enforce the state’s laws against iron-clad contracts. When the miners seized control of the Briceville mine again, on July 20, Governor Buchanan requested a 60-day truce so that he could present the miners’ claims to the Tennessee legislature. The legislature subsequently rejected the miners’ demands, and tensions flared once more. On October 31, 1891, the miners stormed the Briceville mine and burned the stockades to the ground, freeing more than 500 leased convicts and placing them on trains headed out of the Coal Creek Valley. Free miners in other towns soon followed suit; the conflict spread across the Cumberland Plateau and lasted several months until the militia launched a crackdown in the summer of 1892, leading to the arrests of hundreds of miners. Known as the “Coal Creek War,” this clash ultimately brought about the miners’ goal: the Tennessee legislature abolished convict leasing to private companies on January 1, 1894. While the free miners no longer had to compete with convict labor, the Coal Creek War did not end the practice of forcing state convicts – mostly “able bodied young colored men” – to labor in mines. Instead, convicts were now shipped to Brushy Mountain and forced to mine coal for the state of Tennessee. By 1904, the state claimed $200,000 per year in profits from convict labor. October 31, 1961, Cold War & Nuclear News: Soviet Union above-ground nuclear test. 5 megaton
October 31 – November 6, 1960: Frank Sinatra’s Nice ‘n’ Easy Billboard #1 album.
The Beatles before their US appearance
October 31, 1959: Quarrymen auditioned for Carrol Levis Show in Liverpool. During this audition period, the band would change its name from "Quarry Men" to "Johnny and the Moondogs" by November 15. On that day, they lose out for the Carrol Levis finals.
Five years later…
October 31, 1963: The Beatles were trying to walk through Heathrow Airport, London, where they'd just returned from a successful tour of Sweden. Also at Heathrow that particular day, after a talent-scouting tour of Europe, was the American television impresario Ed Sullivan. The pandemonium that Sullivan witnessed as he attempted to catch his flight to New York would play a pivotal role in making the British Invasion possible. Sullivan had his staff make inquiries about the Beatles following his return to the United States, and Brian Epstein arranged to travel to New York to open negotiations.
Cold War & Nuclear News
October 31, 1961, : Soviet Union above-ground nuclear test. 5 megaton. (click >>> NYT article)
October 31, 1963, ADA: The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 (CMHA) (also known as the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, Mental Retardation Facilities and Construction Act, Public Law 88-164, or the Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963) was an act to provide federal funding for community mental health centers. This legislation was passed as part of John F. Kennedy's New Frontier. It led to considerable deinstitutionalization. In 1984 it was renamed the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.
October 31 - November 27, 1964: “Baby Love” by the Supremes #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. October 31 – December 4, 1964: Barbara Streisand’s People is the Billboard #1 album.
Vietnam & LBJ
October 31, 1968: President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a halt to all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, saying he hoped for fruitful peace negotiations. (click >>> NYT article)
Race Riots, the Pledge, Native Americans
October 31, 1969: Race riot in Jacksonville, FL. The trouble started when a white truck driver accused a 20-year-old black man of stealing from his truck. The white man shot the black man, triggering two hours of violence and looting. Windows were smashed and TV sets, furniture and appliances were stolen, with losses estimated at $125,000. Three vehicles were burned. Two people were injured by gunfire and a policeman was struck by a brick. The police arrested 11 people - 10 of them were charged not with vandalism or looting but with using profanity and failing to obey police officers. A teenager was charged with looting, but rather than calming matters, that arrest led to the gathering of an angry crowd that didn't disperse until four squad cars arrived. (click >>> NYT article)
October 31, 1969, FREE SPEECH & Pledge of Allegiance: two 12-year-old girls in Brooklyn went to court on this day to assert their right to remain seated in class while other students recited the Pledge of Allegiance. One of the students, Mary, said she refused to recite the pledge because she doesn’t believe that “the actions of this country at this time warrant my respect.” (The Vietnam War was still raging at this time.) The seventh graders had been suspended four weeks earlier in what the school board’s attorney described as a simple matter of school discipline and not one of First Amendment law. Allowing the girls to remain seated, he claimed, would be “disruptive.” The girls were represented by lawyers for the New York Civil Liberties Union, who cited the famous Supreme Court case of West Virginia v. Barnette, decided on June 14, 1943, in which the Court upheld the right of Jehovah’s Witness’s children not to salute the American flag as required by their school. October 31, 1972, Native Americans: The Trail of Broken Treaties was a twenty-point manifesto adopted by Native American activists at a meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on this day. The twenty points/demands included a Commission to Review Treaty Commitments & Violations, and that All Indians to be Governed by Treaty Relations. (link to manifesto: http://www.aimovement.org/ggc/trailofbrokentreaties.html)
October 31, 1978: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, making it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
October 31, 2013, Stop and Frisk Policy & Fourth Amendment: the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Judge Scheindlin “ran afoul” of the judiciary’s code of conduct by showing an “appearance of partiality surrounding this litigation.” The panel criticized how she had steered the lawsuit to her courtroom when it was filed in early 2008. The ruling effectively puts off a battery of changes that Judge Scheindlin, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, had ordered for the Police Department. Those changes include postponing the operations of the monitor who was given the task to oversee reforms to the department’s stop-and-frisk practices, which Judge Scheindlin found violated the Fourth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.