On This Day, May 18,1989 – 1,000,000 Protesters March Through Beijing

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1989 – A crowd of protesters, estimated to number more than one million, marches through the streets of Beijing calling for a more democratic political system. Just a few weeks later, the Chinese government moved to crush the protests.

Protests in China had been brewing since the mid-1980s when the communist government announced that it was loosening some of the restrictions on the economy, allowing for a freer market to develop. Encouraged by this action, a number of Chinese (particularly students) began to call for similar action on the political front. By early 1989, peaceful protests began to take place in some of China’s largest urban areas. The largest of these protests took place around Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing. By the middle of May 1989, enormous crowds took to the streets with songs, slogans, and banners calling for greater democracy and the ouster of some hard-line Chinese officials. The Chinese government responded with increasingly harsh measures, including arrests and beatings of some protesters. On June 3, 1989, Chinese armed forces stormed into Tiananmen Square and swept the protesters away. Thousands were killed and over 10,000 were arrested in what came to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

The protests attracted worldwide attention. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev applauded the protesters and publicly declared that reform was necessary in communist China. In the United States, the Chinese students were treated like heroes by the American press. Following the Tiananmen Square Massacre, a shocked U.S. government suspended arms sales to China and imposed economic sanctions. The Chinese government, however, refused to bend, referring to the protesters as “lawless elements” of Chinese society.


1642 – Montreal, Canada, was founded.

1643 – Queen Anne, the widow of Louis XIII, was granted sole and absolute power as regent by the Paris parliament, overriding the late king’s will.

1652 – In Rhode Island, a law was passed that made slavery illegal in North America. It was the first law of its kind.

1798 – The first Secretary of the U.S. Navy was appointed. He was Benjamin Stoddert.

1802 – Great Britain declared war on Napoleon’s France.

1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed emperor by the French Senate.

1896 – The U.S. Supreme court upheld the “separate but equal” policy in the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision. The ruling was overturned 58 years later with Brown vs. Board of Education.

1897 – A public reading of Bram Stoker’s new novel, “Dracula, or, The Un-dead,” was performed in London.

1917 – The U.S. Congress passed the Selective Service act, which called up soldiers to fight in World War I.

1926 – Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanished while visiting a beach in Venice, CA. She reappeared a month later with the claim that she had been kidnapped.


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1933 – The Tennessee Valley Authority was created.


1934 – The U.S. Congress approved an act, known as the “Lindberg Act,” that called for the death penalty in interstate kidnapping cases.

1942 – New York ended night baseball games for the duration of World War II.

1951 – The United Nations moved its headquarters to New York City.

1953 – The first woman to fly faster than the speed of sound, Jacqueline Cochran, piloted an F-86 Sabrejet over California at an average speed of 652.337 miles-per-hour.

1974 – India became the sixth nation to explode an atomic bomb.

1980 – Mt. Saint Helens erupted in Washington state. 57 people were killed and 3 billion in damage was done.

1983 – The U.S. Senate revised immigration laws and gave millions of illegal aliens legal status under an amnesty program.

1994 – Israel’s three decades of occupation in the Gaza Strip ended as Israeli troops completed their withdrawal and Palestinian authorities took over.

1998 – The U.S. federal government and 20 states filed a sweeping antitrust case against Microsoft Corp., saying the computer software company had a “choke hold” on competitors which denied consumer choices by controlling 90% of the software market.

2014 – Russian President Putin signed a bill to absorb Crimea into the Russian Federation.

Source: On-This-Day.Com; History.com

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