On this day on 30th October

On this day in 1650 George Fox was arrested for interrupting a church service in Derby. After eight hours of close questioning he was sent to jail for a term of six months for blaspheming. Jails in the 17th century were extremely unpleasant. Jailers charged prisoners fees for better accommodations and food. Jailers were not subject to rules and treated people like Fox who did not share their religious views, very badly. Derby jail was sited over a branch of the River Derwent, exposing its prisoners to damp and filth.

During this period George Fox called his followers "Children of the Light", "People of God", "Royal Seed of God" or "Friends of the Truth". However, one of his critics, Gervase Bennett, described Fox and his followers as Quakers. This was a derisive term and was based on the fact that Fox's followers quaked and trembled during their worship. Fox defended his followers by pointing out that there were numerous biblical figures who were said to have also trembled before the Lord. Later they became known as the "Religious Society of Friends".

George Fox
George Fox

On this day in 1831 Nat Turner is arrested for leading a slave rebellion. He was the property of Benjamin Turner, a prosperous plantation owner. Nat's mother and grandmother had been brought to America from Africa and had a deep hatred of slavery. Nat grew up sharing his mother's view of slavery. Taught to read by his master's son, Nat developed deep religious beliefs and encouraged by his parents, gradually began to believe that God had chosen him to lead his people out of slavery. In 1831 Turner was sold to Joseph Travis. In February of that year an eclipse of the sun convinced Turner that this was a supernatural sign from God to start an insurrection. However, it wasn't until August 21st that Turner and about seven other slaves killed Travis and his family to launch his rebellion. In all, about 50 whites were killed. Turner had hoped this his action would cause a massive slave uprising but only 75 joined his rebellion. Over 3,000 members of the state militia were sent to deal with Turner's rebellion, and they were soon defeated. In retaliation, more than a hundred innocent slaves were killed. Turner went into hiding but was captured six weeks later. Nat Turner was executed on 11th November, 1831.

Nat Turner Rebellion
Nat Turner Rebellion

On this day in 1885 Ezra Pound, American poet was born In 1908 Pound travelled to Europe and after arriving in London he became friends with W. B. Yeats, Ford Madox Ford, Percy Wyndham Lewis, and James Joyce. His first collection of poems, With Tapers Quenched, was published in 1908. This was followed by Personae and Exultations (1909) and a book of critical essays, The Spirit of Romance (1910).

!n 1924 Pound moved to Rapallo in Italy where he worked on the Cantos. The first collection, Draft of XVI Cantos appeared in 1925. This was followed by Draft of XXX Cantos (1930), Eleven New Cantos (1937), The Fifth Decade of Cantos (1937) and Cantos LII-LXXI (1940).

A supporter of Benito Mussolini he advocated fascist ideas and during the Second World War made radio broadcasts in Rome attacking the Allies. Pound was arrested by partisans in April 1945 and taken back to the United States to be tried for treason. Judged to be insane he was confined in an asylum.

Ezra Pound,
Ezra Pound,

On this day in 1893 Roland Freisler, Nazi Party judge, was born. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 Freisler was appointed chief personnel officer in the Prussian Ministry of Justice. The following year he became state secretary in the Prussian and then the federal Ministry of Justice.

In July 1942, Freisler joined Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Muller and at Adolf Eichmann the Wannsee Conference where they discussed the issue of the large number of inmates in Germany's concentration camps. At the meeting it was decided to make the extermination of the Jews a systematically organized operation. Eichmann was then placed in charge of what became known as the Final Solution. After this date extermination camps were established in the east that had the capacity to kill large numbers of inmates.

Freisler was appointed as president of the People's Court in August 1942. The court had been set up to judge "political crimes" and presided over the trial of those involved in the July Plot and the White Rose Group, Freisler was killed during an Allied air raid when he was hit on the head by falling masonary in February, 1945.

Roland Freisler
Roland Freisler

On this day in 1938 Orson Welles broadcasts a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds. Welles's broadcast become famous for tricking some of its listeners into believing that a Martian invasion was actually taking place due to the "breaking news" style of storytelling employed in the first half of the show. The illusion of realism was furthered because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining program without commercial interruptions; the first break in the drama came after Martian war machines were described as devastating New York City. In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program's news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for regulation by the FCC.

Orson Welles explaining to reporters that he had no idea the show would cause panic.
Orson Welles explaining to reporters that he had no idea the show would cause panic.

On this day in 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt approves $1 billion in Lend-Lease aid to the Allied nations. The legislation gave President Roosevelt the powers to sell, transfer, exchange, lend equipment to any country to help it defend itself against the Axis powers. A sum of $50 billion was appropriated by Congress for Lend-Lease. The money went to 38 different countries with Britain receiving over $31 billion.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt

On this day in 1941, around 1500 Jews from Pidhaytsi are sent by Nazis to Belzec extermination camp. At the Wannsee Conference held in January 1942 it was decided to make the extermination of the Jews a systematically organized operation. After this date extermination camps were established in the east that had the capacity to kill large numbers including Belzec (15,000 a day), Sobibor (20,000), Treblinka (25,000) and Majdanek (25,000). It has been estimated that between 1933 and 1945 a total of 1,600,000 were sent to concentration work camps. Of these, over a million died of a variety of different causes. During this period around 18 million were sent to extermination camps. Of these, historians have estimated that between five and eleven million were killed.

Jews being escorted to the Bełżec extermination camp
Jews being escorted to the Bełżec extermination camp

On this day in 1944 Anne Frank is deported from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne Frank and her sister both died of typhus in March, 1945.

Anne Frank
Anne Frank

On this day in 1957 the government revealed plans to allow women to sit in the House of Lords. The Labour Party had always said it wants to abolish the Lords but never acted upon it. Martin Pugh, the author of Speak for Britain: A New History of the Labour Party (2011) points out: "In 1922 the party had almost no representation in the House of Lords and was officially committed to abolishing the hereditary peerage." Arthur Ponsonby introduced a bill to abolish hereditary titles altogether but there were already signs of compromise.

"While Tory propaganda strove to depict Labour as subversive and anti-Establishment, leading politicians were busy defusing the charge." Leading Labour politicians such as Ramsay MacDonald, John R. Clynes, George Barnes, Jimmy Thomas, Philip Snowden and Arthur Henderson attended royal weddings and Buckingham Palace garden parties. The idea of abolishing the House of Lords was quietly dropped and after the 1929 General Election MacDonald appointed a member of the upper chamber, Earl De La Warr, to his government, even though he admitted he was not a party member.

Attempts were made to reintroduce this policy. At the 1933 Labour Party Conference Stafford Cripps advocated that the next Labour government would immediately abolish the House of Lords, and pass an Emergency Act "to take over or regulate the financial machine, and put into force any measure that the situation may require for the immediate control or socialisation of industry and for safeguarding the supply of food and other necessaries." Cripps pointed out that it was completely unacceptable to continue a system that allows the rich to veto laws that they do not like. However, this important motion was never voted on.

Clement Attlee became the new leader of the Labour Party in 1935 and showed no interest in abolishing the House of Lords. Harold Laski continued to denounce it as "an indefensible anarchronism" and that its existence was not "compatible with the objective of Socialism". Attlee was unimpressed with this argument and when he became prime minister following the 1945 General Election he created no fewer than eighty-two hereditary peerages. He symbolised Labour's new stance by accepting an earldom when he retired in 1955.

Labour Party poster (1910)
Labour Party poster (1910)

On this day in 1979 Barnes Wallis died. Wallis designed the bouncing bombs that were used by Guy Gibson and the 617 Squadron to successfully breach the Mohne and Eder dams in the Ruhr during the Dambusters Raid on 16th May 1943. The rotating bouncing bomb skipped over the water and exploded while sinking to the base of the retaining wall of the dam. It produced heavy floods and badly damaged German production in the Ruhr. When the decision was taken to concentrate on area bombing Wallis began looking at the design of bombers that could drop heavy bombs. The adapted Avro Lancaster was able to drop two bombs developed by Wallis, Tallboy (1944) and Grand Slam (1945).

Barnes Wallis
Barnes Wallis