October 23: Triumph and Tragedy

October 23 is marked by the first national women’s right convention, the largest sea battle in history in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War II, the birth of the short-lived free Hungarian Republic, the Beirut Marine bombing and Chechen rebels seizing a Moscow theater holding 900 hostages.

1850 – First National Woman’s Rights Convention

The first National Woman’s Right’s Convention was held on October 23-24 in Brinley Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts.   Some 900 people showed up for the first session, men forming the majority, with several newspapers reporting over a thousand attendees by the afternoon of the first day, and more turned away outside. Delegates came from eleven states, including one delegate from California – a state only a few weeks old.

Paulina Wright Davis was chosen to preside and in her opening address called for “the emancipation of a class, the redemption of half the world, and a conforming re-organization of all social, political, and industrial interests and institutions.”

1944 – The Battle of Leyte Gulf

The largest sea battle in history begins, as the Japanese Navy would fail in their attempt to repel the American onslaught.  It was the first battle in which the Japanese carried out organized kamikaze attacks, but by the end of the battle, the Japanese had fewer aircraft than the Allies had sea vessels.

1956 – Hungarian Uprising Begins

Student pro-democracy protests in Budapest swelled from 20,000 to more than 200,000, as crowds removed the Communist coat of arms from Hungary’s flag and toppled the 30-foot-high bronze statue of Stalin.  The protest led to the collapse of the Hungarian government, with a new reform-minded leader Imre Nagy taking over as Prime Minister, as the protests and resulting armed clashes with Hungarian and Soviet troops.  A cease-fire was reached on October 28th, after which Prime Minister Nagy announced reforms and Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact.  By November 4th, Soviet troops entered Hungary to brutally crush the rebellion.

The Hungarians who had received great encouragement from Radio Free Europe and were led to believe NATO or the UN would intervene, turned to the West for help that never came.  Part of the problem was the British and French intervention along Egypt’s Suez Canal on November 5th following an Israeli invasion of Sinai.    As Vice President Richard Nixon later explained,

We couldn’t on one hand, complain about the Soviets intervening in Hungary and, on the other hand, approve of the British and the French picking that particular time to intervene against [Gamel Abdel] Nasser

On this day in 1989, however, the Hungarian Republic was proclaimed bringing an end to the communist Hungarian People’s Republic.

1983 – Beirut Marine Base Bombing

The single most deadly day for the Marines since World War II, as a suicide bomb attack killed 241 American soldiers, 58 French soldiers and 6 civilians.

1993 – Joe Carter’s Walk-Off Home Run Wins World Series

2002 – Moscow Theater Seige

Chechen rebels seize a Moscow theater taking 900 hostages that ultimately led to 129 hostages being killed in the rescue.


3 thoughts on “October 23: Triumph and Tragedy

  1. My father was on board the USS White Plains during this battle. I will always remember this day with reverence for what these men faced against over whelming odds.

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