What Happened – October 31

It was on this day in 1913 that street car workers in Indianapolis went out on strike, in a rather unpeaceful manner. They had organized in order to seek better working conditions and pay, but the Terminal and Traction Company (which had been granted a 31 year lease to run the public transportation system) refused to recognize the union. Three days previously the company had turned down an offer from the US Dept of Labor to mediate the tense situation. Things quickly turned violent, with streetcars were being burnt and electric lines cut. The police were overwhelmed and on Nov. 2 over 300 Pinkertons were brought in from Chicago, but their attempts to restore service failed when thousands of workers from other unions joined into the fray. The Governor declared Martial Law on Nov. 5, and the National Guard patrolled the city. At noon the next day a large crowd gathered around the Statehouse, demanding the troops be withdrawn and that they be allowed to speak to Gov Samuel Ralston. He walked out and made a speech to the group, promising to draft new laws that would require better working conditions as well as reform labor laws. He also stated that the Nat’l Guard would be withdrawn if the striking workers returned to their jobs. The next morning Ralston sat down with union leaders and company owners, with a temporary deal quickly being negotiated. Both sides also agreed to submit any further disagreements to the state’s Public Service Commission for arbitration. The workers went back to the streetcars, and after escorting the strikebreakers out of town the Nat’l Guard was demobilized. During the week-long struggle six people were killed and hundreds injured. Over 30 police officers were charged with mutiny for refusing to confront the crowds, but the Mayor ordered that no disciplinary action be taken against them. The Sheriff resigned in protest, and the Mayor also resigned when he was threatened with impeachment by supporters of the Sheriff on the City Council.


The earliest event that Wiki takes note of occuring on this day is “475 – Romulus Augustulus is proclaimed Western Roman Emperor“, while the most recent are three from 2003: “A bankruptcy court approves MCI’s reorganization plans, essentially clearing the telecommunications company to exit bankruptcy“, “Mahathir bin Mohamad resigns as Prime Minister of Malaysia and is replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, marking an end to Mahathir’s 22 years in power” & “Bethany Hamilton is attacked by a tiger shark and loses her left arm and three liters of blood.


A couple other things that also happened on this day are:

1517 – Martin Luther posts his theses on a local church, starting the Protestant Reformation.

1990 – Billy Idol dumps 600 dead fish (and possibly some live farm animals) into the dressing room of Faith No More on the final night of their combined tour. In response the band walks onto stage during Idol’s last song (naked except for masks over their faces) while doing a conga line.


Happy birthday to Rogers Stevens, Robert Van Winkle, Adam Horovitz, Rob Schneider, Peter Jackson, Dermot Mulroney, Bob Siebenberg, David Ogden Stiers, Tom Paxton, and Michael Collins.

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