History of Events Contributing to Revolutions, Human Rights and Democracy

Year Event
18thC BC Hammurabi establishes first legal code
16-13thC BC Moses The Ten Commandments
539  BC Cyrus The Great conquers Babylon
– freed the slaves, gave freedom of religion
~30 Persecution of Jesus for enticing Israel
 40-64 Christians’ refusal to participate in public religion was as problematic to the populace as it was to the elites, and contributed to the general hostility toward Christians.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians_in_the_Roman_Empire#History_of_the_imperial_persecutions
~60  Paul the Apostle, when imprisoned and on trial, claimed his right as a Roman citizen to be tried before Caesar, and the judicial process had to be suspended until he was brought to Rome
 64 Christian Movement   In 64 AD, a great fire broke out in Rome, destroying portions of the city and economically devastating the Roman population. In his Annals, Tacitus , stated that “to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace“.  Suetonius, later to the period, does not mention any persecution after the fire, but in a previous paragraph unrelated to the fire, mentions punishments inflicted on Christians, defined as men following a new and malefic superstition. Suetonius however does not specify the reasons for the punishment, he just listed the fact together with other abuses put down by Nero.
 212 ??  citizenship is given to freeborn
subjects in Roma Empire
1215 Magna Carta was the first document imposed upon a King of England by a group of his subjects,

221 Han Dynasty in China includes official, but diverse news
600 Book printing is invented in China
701 Codification of Japanese political law
790 Golden period of Arabic learning
802 Germanic tribal laws codified by order of Charlemagne
970s Fatimids build al-Azhar University in Cairo, the world’s first
1119 Bologna University founded in Italy; Paris University, in
France, is founded in 1150
1215 King John seals Magna Carta at Runnymede
1455 Gutenberg invents movable-type printing press
1492 Christopher Columbus lands in the Caribbean (beginning
of European expansion)
1517 Martin Luther publishes 95 theses, launching the
Reformation in Europe
1619 First representative colonial assembly in America
1625 Hugo Grotius publishes De Jure Belli ac Pacis, which
becomes the basis of international law
1646 Treaty of Westphalia: End of the Thirty Years’ War in
Europe; Ushers in modern concept of the nation-state
1679 Habeas Corpus Act in England ensures no imprisonment
without court appearance first
1689 Act of Toleration and Bill of Rights is passed in England
18thC Age of Enlightenment begins in Europe
1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau writes The Social Contract. He
asserts that if a government fails to serve its subjects
well, they should have the right to overthrow it and create
a new one
1775 Beginning of the American Revolution
1776 Adam Smith writes Wealth of Nations
1776 The United States declares independence
1787 The American Constitution and Bill of Rights established
1789 The beginning of the French Revolution
1790s A revolt in Haiti against French rule, led by Toussaint
L’Ouverture, marks the first independence movement in
Latin America
19thC Apex of the Industrial Revolution
1816 Bolivar defeats Spanish in Venezuela; independence
confirmed in 1821
1829 The practice of suttee (widow burning) made illegal in India
1833 Slavery is abolished in British Empire
1848 “Year of Revolution” throughout Europe
1859 John Stuart Mill publishes On Liberty
1885 Conference in Berlin initiates the “Scramble for Africa”
1885 Indian National Congress is founded, beginning the
campaign for home rule
1893 New Zealand becomes the first nation to fully establish system of universal suffrage
Inter-war Extension of female vote; Great emergence of mass
period parties in Europe
1925 Mussolini becomes dictator in Italy
1927 Rise of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union
1933 Rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany
1944 First free presidential elections in Guatemala
1945 Defeat of the Axis Powers; Ushers in the process of
democratization in Europe and Japan
1947 India and Pakistan gain independence
1948 The Marshal Plan helps rebuild war-torn Europe
1948 The UN approves the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
guaranteeing all people in all countries their basic rights
1951 Libya declares independence (beginning of post-war
decolonization of Africa)
1956 Hungarian Revolution
1964 US Civil Rights Act bans racial discrimination in federal
funding and employment
1968 The Prague Spring
1972 US Congress passes Equal Opportunity Act in response growing women’s movement
1976 Helsinki convention on human rights is adopted _
1987 Mikhail Gorbachev introduces glasnost, or openness
1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall
1989 Popular pro-democracy protests take place in Beijing’s
Tiananmen Square
1991 The Soviet Union disintegrates as the Communist Party
loses power; Democratic elections are held in Russia and
throughout Eastern Europe
1990s Use of the internet becomes widespread
1999 Nigeria and Indonesia elect democratic governments




Swift, R. (2002). The No-nonsense Guide to Democracy. Verso.