Mutiny on the Bounty
Today in Labor History April 28, 1789: Fletcher Christian led a successful mutiny against the brutal Captain Bligh on the HMS Bounty. Christian began the voyage as the captain’s mate, but Bligh appointed him acting Lieutenant during the voyage. The story of the mutiny was later retold in Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall’s “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Bligh had previously served on the Resolution, as Master, under Captain Cook, on his second and third voyages to Hawaii. And he was present when the native Hawaiians killed Cook.
After the mutiny, Christian started a colony on the South Pacific island of Pitcairn. Nine other English mutineers, six Tahitian men and eleven Tahitian women joined him. However, the Tahitians rebelled when the mutineers tried to enslave them and killed most of them. But not until after many of the Tahitian women became pregnant. And the decedents of the mutineers continue to live there today.
April 28, 1896 – Na Hye-sok was born. She was South Korea’s first female professional painter and first feminist writer.
Today in Labor History April 28, 1896 – Tristan Tzara was born. Tzara was a Romanian-French poet, journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, and film director. He co-founded the anti-establishment Dada movement. During Hitler’s rise to power, he participated in the anti-fascist movement and the French Communist Party. In 1934, Tzara organized a mock trial of Salvador Dalí because of his fawning over Hitler and Franco. The surrealists Andre Breton, Paul Éluard and René Crevel helped run the trial.
In the 1940s, Tzara lived in Marseilles with a group of anti-fascist artists and writers, under the protection of American diplomat Varian Fry. These included Victor Serge, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Andre Breton and Max Ernst. Later he joined the French Resistance, writing propaganda and running their pirate radio station. After the Liberation of Paris, he wrote for L’Éternelle Revue, a communist newspaper edited by Jean-Paul Sartre. Other contributors to the newspaper included Louis Aragon, Éluard, Jacques Prévert and Pablo Picasso.
April 28, 1912: French police killed Jules Bonnot in a shootout. Bonnot was the leader of the anarchist Bonnot Gang. They committed robberies to fund their anarchist movement. They were also the first to use getaway cars in robberies. Author Victor Serge was also a member of their gang.
Today in Labor History April 28, 1914: Over 200 workers died in a coal mine collapse in Eccles, West Virginia. It was one of the deadliest mine disaster in U.S. history. The mine was owned by the Guggenheim family.
April 28, 1917: Lumberjacks went on strike in Montana. They were fighting for better living conditions, higher wages, and the eight-hour day. That same day, river-drivers in Spokane joined their strike.
Today in Labor History April 28, 1919: Anarchists mailed out 36 booby-trapped packages. Inside each package was a 6” x 3” block of hollowed wood filled with dynamite. Their targets included U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, because he was imprisoning and deporting anarchists and union activists. Other targets included J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
April 28, 1924: 119 workers died in the Benwood, West Virginia coal mine disaster.
Today in Labor History April 28, 1945: Walter Audisio, a member of the Italian resistance movement, killed Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci.
April 28, 1953: After overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran, the CIA installed the Shah. This led to a 25-year reign of terror against the Persian people.
Today in Labor History April 28, 1953: Roberto Bolaño was born on this day. He was a Chilean novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist. He wrote the “Savage Detectives.” Bolaño died in 2003.
April 28, 1953: Kim Gordon was born on this day. She is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer. She was a founding member of the no-wave band Sonic Youth.
Today in Labor History April 28, 1954: Léon Jouhaux died on this day. He was a French trade union leader. In 1900, he joined a strike against the use of white phosphorus, because it had blinded his father. As a result, his employer fired him. During World War II, the Nazis imprisoned him in Buchenwald. He helped form the International Labor Organization. And in 1951, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
April 28, 1965: 20,000 U.S. Marines invaded the Dominican Republic to prop up the military junta. The U.S. had previously occupied the country from 1916 to 1922.
Today in Labor History April 28, 1967: Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted to fight in Vietnam. Consequently, he was stripped of his boxing title and threatened with jail. His justification for refusing to go: “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
April 28, 1971: Congress approved the creation of OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, they sat idly and did nothing as Reagan and his successors gutted it. The AFL-CIO declared April 28 “Workers Memorial Day” to honor the hundreds of thousands of working people killed and injured on the job every year. However, this is a whitewashing of OSHA’s failures. In 2019, 5,333 Americans died because of their jobs. This was a 2% increase from 2018.
Today in Labor History April 28, 1977: The Mothers of the Disappeared held their first rally at Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires in order to protest the Argentine dictatorship. The dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla murdered or disappeared 20,000 to 30,000 people between 1976 and 1983, with U.S. support.
April 28, 1992: Francis Bacon, the Irish painter died on this day. Bacon was famous for his grotesque, surreal portraits. However, he was also a survivor of transphobia at home as a kid. Once, when his father caught him dressing in drag as a child, he ordered his grooms to horsewhip him. On another occasion, his father kicked him out of the house for dressing in drag.