On this day on 2nd November

On this day in 1470 Edward V of England is born. He was the eldest son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, was born in 1471. Edward was trained to become king but was only a child when his father died in 1483. It was therefore decided that Richard, Edward IV's brother, should became Protector of England, until Edward was old enough to become king.

Elizabeth Woodville did not trust Richard and called for a Regency Council to run the country. Richard reacted by persuading Parliament that Edward IV had not been legally married to Elizabeth Woodville, and therefore Prince Edward was not the true heir to the throne. As Edward IV's only surviving brother, Richard claimed the throne for himself. Richard had Edward and his younger brother, Richard, taken into custody. Soon rumours began to circulate that Richard had arranged for his two nephews to be murdered.

Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower of London by Paul Delaroche (1831)
Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower of London by Paul Delaroche (1831)

On this day in 1734 Daniel Boone, American explorer ?was born. His family migrated to North Carolina in 1750 and established a farm by the Yadkin Valley. As soon as he was old enough he became an animal hunter. Boone joined the expedition led by Major General Edward Braddock as a blacksmith and teamster. He was with Braddock when he was killed on 13th July, 1755.

In 1767 Boone and two companions explored Kentucky. Impressed with what he found he led a party of migrant families from North Carolina to Kentucky in September, 1773. Working for Richard Henderson and his Transylvania Company, Boone helped lay out the Wilderness Road. He also explored the Cumberland Gap of the Appalachian Mountains. He was also involved in the establishment of the Boonesborough Fort on the Kentucky River.

Boone was captured by Shawnees in 1778 and was taken to Detroit but managed to escape. He returned to Boonesborough where he organized the settlers in defending the town from an Indian attack. Over the next few years Boone served as a sheriff of Boonesborough. He also worked as a surveyor.

In 1799 Boone moved to Missouri and in 1814 Congress granted him 850 acres in the area. Boone was forced to sell the land in order to pay his considerable debts incurred while he was in Kentucky. Boone continued to hunt and trap animals until his early eighties. Daniel Boone died in St. Charles County, Missouri, on 26th September, 1820.

Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone

On this day in 1795 James K. Polk, was born in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. When Polk was a child the family moved to Tennessee. Although he suffered from poor health, Polk managed to attend and graduate from the University of North Carolina. Polk was admitted to the bar in 1820 and practiced law in Nashville. A member of the Democratic Party, Polk was elected to Congress in 1825 and became house speaker ten years later. In 1839 Polk was elected governor of Tennessee.

In 1843 Martin Van Buren was expected to become the Democratic Party candidate in the presidential election. However, Polk won the nomination and beat Henry Clay (Whig Party) and James Birney (Liberty Party) in the election.

In December, 1845, Polk announced the annexation of Texas. This marked the beginning of the Mexican War and Zachary Taylor and a 4,000 man army, was ordered into the Rio Grande. Taylor defeated the Mexicans at Palo Alto on 8th May, 1846 and in September captured Monterrey. Taylor upset Polk when he granted the Mexican Army an eight-week armistice. Polk took away Taylor's best troops and ordered him to fight a defensive war. Taylor disobeyed these orders and in February, 1847, marched south and although outnumbered four to one, defeated the Mexican Army at Buena Vista.

In 1848 the Whig Party selected Zachary Taylor as its candidate for president. Polk decided not to stand and the Democratic Party candidate, Lewis Cass (1,220,544), was defeated by Taylor. James Polk died soon afterwards in Nashville, Tennessee, on 15th June, 1849.

James K. Polk
James K. Polk

On this day in 1874 Rudolf Breitscheild, the son of a bookseller, was born in Cologne, Germany, was born. After studying political economy at the University of Munich and the University of Marburg he entered journalism and eventually became editor of a left-wing newspaper in Hamburg. Breitscheild joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and was elected to the Berlin town council in 1904. Over the next few years he emerged as one of the leaders of the party.

Karl Liebknecht was the only member of the Reichstag who voted against Germany's participation in the First World War. He argued: "This war, which none of the peoples involved desired, was not started for the benefit of the German or of any other people. It is an Imperialist war, a war for capitalist domination of the world markets and for the political domination of the important countries in the interest of industrial and financial capitalism. Arising out of the armament race, it is a preventative war provoked by the German and Austrian war parties in the obscurity of semi-absolutism and of secret diplomacy."

Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, initially opposed to the idea of the country going to war. However, once the First World War had started, he ordered the SDP members in the Reichstag to support the war effort. Ebert called for a defensive, rather than an offensive war. With the formation of the Third Supreme Command, in August, 1916, Ebert's political power was undermined.

Breitscheild began questioning the policies of Ebert and in April 1917, along with other left-wing figures in the party formed the Independent Socialist Party. Other members of the ISP included Kurt Eisner, Karl Kautsky, Eduard Bernstein, Julius Leber and Rudolf Hilferding. After the German Revolution in Prussia in 1918 he briefly became Minister of the Interior in the new government. Raymond Gram Swing of the Chicago Daily News, commented: "My best friend among the new leaders was Rudolph Breitscheid, head of the Independent Socialists, a tall, narrow-shouldered man, a little stooped, who to me personified the hopes and virtues latent in the Weimar Republic."

In 1922 Breitscheild returned to the Social Democratic Party and supported the government of Hermann Muller between 1928 and 1930. With the growth of the Nazi Party Breitscheild argued for a protective alliance between the SDP and the German Communist Party (KPD).

When Adolf Hitler gained power Breitscheild was forced to flee to France and in 1938 helped to form the Central Union of German Emigrants. When the German Army invaded France in 1940 Breitscheild fled to Marseilles. However, in 1941 he was arrested by the Vichy government and handed over to the Gestapo.

Rudolf Breitscheild was sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. According to the Völkischer Beobachter, Breitscheid, along with Ernst Thälmann, was killed during an Allied air raid on 28th August, 1944. However, it is believed that Breitscheild was executed with Thälmann on 24th of that month.

Rudolf Breitscheild
Rudolf Breitscheild

On this day in 1903 Hope Hale Davis was born. On 18th February 1932 Hope Hale married the British journalist, Claud Cockburn. At the time he was working for The Times. However, the Great Depression had a dramatic impact on Cockburn's political opinions. He now considered himself a Marxist. Hope later wrote of Cockburn: "I wanted what a woman has traditionally asked of a lover going off to war - his qualities and his heritage." She was attracted to him for his "charm, gaiety, mischief and wit" and the way he made people laugh. But privately with her, she added, he would talk seriously about how "we could sweep away all these disgraces at once and build a new society that would rule them out forever". (6) Hope gave birth to Claudia Cockburn but the marriage did not last.

In 1934 Hope Hale divorced Claud Cockburn and married Karl Hermann Brunck. The same year, they both joined the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA). They were invited to the home of Charles Kramer, for their first meeting. Also in attendance were Mildred Kramer, Victor Perlo and Marion Bachrach. Kramer explained that the CPUSA was organized in units. "Charles... explained that... we would try to limit our knowledge of other members, in case of interrogation, possible torture. Such an idea, he admitted, might seem rather remote in the radical Washington climate, but climates could change fast. In most places members of units knew each other only by their Party pseudonyms, so as not to be able to give real names if questioned."

Kramer also told the group that in future they should obtain their copies of the Daily Worker and the New Masses from him instead of newsstands. "We must keep away from any place where leftists might gather. We must avoid, as far as possible, associating with radicals, difficult as that would be in Washington." Even outspoken liberals such as Jerome Frank and Gardner Jackson "were out of bounds". Kramer added "we couldn't go near any public protests or rallies."

Hope Hale met Harold Ware who was a consultant to the AAA. She described Ware as having a voice that was "always easy sounding, unlike the staccato of most Party men" and was reassured by Ware's "tanned lean face, his rolled-up blue shirt sleeves showing the muscles in his forearms". Hope joined Ware's "discussion group" that included Charles Kramer, Alger Hiss, Nathaniel Weyl, John Abt, Laurence Duggan, Harry Dexter White, Abraham George Silverman, Nathan Witt, Marion Bachrach, Julian Wadleigh, Henry H. Collins, Lee Pressman, Charles Kramer and Victor Perlo. Ware was working very close with Joszef Peter, the "head of the underground section of the American Communist Party." It was claimed that Peter's design for the group of government agencies, to "influence policy at several levels" as their careers progressed". Weyl later recalled that every member of the Ware Group was also a member of the CPUSA: "No outsider or fellow traveller was ever admitted... I found the secrecy uncomfortable and disquieting."

Hope Hale returned to New York City in 1939 where she worked as a free-lance writer. She married literary critic Robert Gorham Davis later that year. They both left the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) after the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. "We who were self-blinded suffer the further pain of shame. Not shame that we joined in the fight, which indeed must be renewed and renewed, as long as people are still ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and brutally tortured. My shame is in the terms of my joining: I forfeited my most essential freedom, to think for myself. Instead of keeping my wits about me, I gave them over to others, believing big lies and rejecting truths as big as millions starving. No excuse can lighten the knowledge that I used my brain and talents in defense of Stalin."

Hope Hale Davis with her daughter Claudia.
Hope Hale Davis with her daughter Claudia.

On this day in 1950 George Bernard Shaw died. In 1882 Shaw heard Henry George lecture on land nationalization. This had a profound effect on Shaw and helped to develop his ideas on socialism. Shaw now joined the Social Democratic Federation and its leader, H. H. Hyndman, introduced him to the works of Karl Marx. Shaw was convinced by the economic theories in Das Kapital but was aware that it would have little impact on the working class. He later wrote that although the book had been written for the working man, "Marx never got hold of him for a moment. It was the revolting sons of the bourgeois itself - Lassalle, Marx, Liebknecht, Morris, Hyndman, Bax, all like myself, crossed with squirearchy - that painted the flag red. The middle and upper classes are the revolutionary element in society; the proletariat is the conservative element."

Shaw became an active member of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), and became friends with others in the movement including William Morris, Eleanor Marx, Annie Besant, Walter Crane, Edward Aveling and Belfort Bax. In May 1884 Shaw joined the Fabian Society and the following year, the Socialist League, an organisation that had been formed by Morris and Marx after a dispute with H. H. Hyndman, the leader of the SDF. Shaw gave lectures on socialism on street corners and helped distribute political literature. On 13th November he took part in a demonstration in London that resulted in the Bloody Sunday Riot. However, he always felt uncomfortable with trade union members and preferred debate to action.

By 1886, Shaw tended to concentrate his efforts on the work that he did with the Fabian Society. The society that included Edward Carpenter, Annie Besant, Walter Crane, Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb believed that capitalism had created an unjust and inefficient society. They agreed that the ultimate aim of the group should be to reconstruct "society in accordance with the highest moral possibilities". As Shaw pointed out: "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."

George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw

On this day in 1957, the New Statesman published an article by J. B. Priestley that attacked the decision by Aneurin Bevan to abandon his policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. The article resulted in a large number of people writing letters to the journal supporting Priestley's views. As Canon John Collins pointed out: "Whether other events may have contributed to the emergence of CND, J. B. Priestley's article exposing the utter folly and wickedness of the whole nuclear strategy was the real catalyst."

Kingsley Martin, the editor of the New Statesman, organised a meeting of people inspired by Priestley and as result they formed the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Early members of this group included J. B. Priestley, Bertrand Russell, Fenner Brockway, Wilfred Wellock, Ernest Bader, Frank Allaun, Donald Soper, Vera Brittain, E. P. Thompson, Sydney Silverman, James Cameron, Jennie Lee, Victor Gollancz, Konni Zilliacus, Richard Acland, Stuart Hall, Ralph Miliband, Frank Cousins, A. J. P. Taylor, Canon John Collins and Michael Foot.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

On this day in 1960 Penguin Books is found not guilty of obscenity in the trial against Lady Chatterley's Lover. In 1926 D. H. Lawrence visited Nottingham. This inspired him to begin a new novel. Lawrence's biographer, John Worthen, has argued: "His sympathy was now far more with his father (who had died in 1924) than with his mother, and the novel's central character was thoroughly working-class. The second version, started in November 1926, made the novel sexually explicit; it became a hymn to the love-making of the couple, to the body of the man and the woman, for sexuality as it could potentially be between an independent working-class man and an independent upper-class woman. It was a final fictional reworking of a theme which he had always written about for the chance it gave him to concentrate on sexual attraction (and to some extent had enacted in his own life and relationships), but which he now returned to both polemically and nostalgically."

The highly explicit sex passages in the book meant that Lawrence was unable to find a publisher for the novel. With the help of the Italian bookseller Pino Orioli, Lawrence arranged for Lady Chatterley's Lover to be printed in and distributed from Florence. The book made him so much money that he could now afford to live in expensive hotels. Later he moved to Bandol on the south coast of France.

The Evening Standard (2nd November, 1960)
The Evening Standard (2nd November, 1960)

On this day in 1965 Norman Morrison, a 31-year-old Quaker, sets himself on fire below Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's Pentagon office, to protest the use of napalm in the Vietnam War. That morning Morrison left home with his baby daughter Emily, drove 40 miles to Washington DC, and just yards from the Pentagon, poured kerosene over himself before striking a match.

Coming home after collecting their two older children from school, his wife, Anne, had no idea what Norman had done. But as night fell, she wondered where he had taken Emily. Then the phone rang. It was a journalist. Realising she had no idea what had happened, he suggested she phone the hospital.

The day after his death, a letter arrived addressed to Anne in Norman's handwriting. "Dearest Anne," it began, "please don't condemn me. For weeks, even months, I have been praying only that I be shown what I must do. This morning with no warning I was shown."

Morrison was following the example of the Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Due, and publically burnt himself to death. In the weeks that were to follow, two other pacifists, Roger La Porte and Alice Herz, also immolated themselves in protest against the war.

Norman Morrison
Norman Morrison