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What is the History of Mass Protests in the United States

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[[File:detail1.png|thumb|left|300px|The Knowles riot resulted from an attempt to force Bostonians into naval service. ]]__NOTOC__
Mass protests have long been part of American culture, even before there was the United States. When the United States formed, it was recognized that the First Amendment protects citizens' rights to protest. In many cases, these mass movements based on organized and sometimes not so organized protests have led to major social and political change. This is not always the case, but these movements have been both a positive and sometimes destructive part of US history.
====Early Mass Protests====
The largest US history protests have all occurred since 2016; however, early in US history, mass protests were vital to social and political change. Class discontent has often been the main reason for mass movements and protests. Culpeper's Rebellion was one of the first large-scale, at least based on the population's movements, movements in Carolina Colony in 1677. John Culpeper led this in a protest movement and armed rebellion against the British authorities over taxes in the Navigation Act. At the time, the British had begun to create a series of duties on cotton and other exports from their American colonies, such as tobacco exports. The movement was ultimately suppressed, but for a time, the rebellion and protests worked in getting the British to exempt taxes, demonstrating some effectiveness of mass mobilization and a mix of violence. John Culpeper even successfully defended himself while he was on trial in Britain. This also helped him become a prominent citizen in North Carolina.  Ultimately, his descendants continued to even be influential in North Carolina politics long after establishing the United States. The Knowles Riot of 1747 was a major disturbance in Boston that occurred after Admiral Charles Knowles attempted to impress poor Bostonians into naval service, leading to protests and armed rioting (Figure 1). This represented one of the largest class-based protests and riots, as it was mostly working-class and poor affected, on civil rights in the 18th century, that is what rights do individuals have in refusing military service. While this was put down, it did lead to more cautious approaches by the British in recruiting colonists for their armed forces.
The theme of taxes continued to be a strong one in North America and ultimately sparked the Revolutionary War. The Stamp Act in 1765 proved very unpopular in the US Colonies, which raised taxes and required printed paper to be produced in Britain. A series of increased protests occurred in the Colonies after this tax was imposed. Among different acts, the Townshend Acts, which led to a series of new taxes, created tensions that ultimately led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the subsequent American Revolution sparked by mass movements in reaction to this and other events. The main disputes centered on whether Parliament had the right to tax in the Colonies rather than local representatives.
====Modern Period Protests====
[[File:6-1.jpeg|thumbnail|left|300px|Figure 2. The suffrage protests helped give an example to other protest movements. ]]
The suffrage protests peaked in the 1910s with several large marches in the United States and globally (Figure 2). In the United States, Alice Paul led a large protest in Washington and became a key strategist in helping the 19th Amendment to be ratified. She continued to protest well after her younger years, and even in the 1960s, she was active in the civil rights and women's rights movements. In fact, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women Paul's organization and campaigning.
The anti-Vietnam war and civil rights movements helped to inspire and shape other non-violent protests in the 1960s and 1970s, such as the American Indian Movement. Still, violence often persisted and accompanied more peaceful protests, including against the war in Vietnam and civil rights. More recently, similar strategies for gay, lesbian, and bisexual movements were used to gain increasing rights. One of the largest protests in United States history in Washington occurred on April 25, 1993, where over 800,000 marched in support of lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights.<ref>For more on protest movements in the 20th century, see: Sullivan, James. <i>Which Side Are You on? 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs</i>. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019.</ref>
In recent decades, riots often formed when racial injustice became evident. The Los Angeles riots in 1992 was a well-known example, which occurred after white police officers were acquitted in the beating of motorist Rodney King. Anti-globalization protests sometimes turned violent such as the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization meeting that led to clashes between police and protesters. The largest anti-war protests arguably occurred on February 15, 2003, in the lead up to the Iraq War, when cities across the United States and many countries organized a day of protests against the impending war. The largest marches in United States history (both over 1.5 million people) occurred in the 2017 and 2018, with the Women's Rights marchs marches occurring and initially sparked by President Trump's statements that were seen as anti-women and offensive.
The March of Our Lives in 2018 was another large-scale (over 1.2 million) demonstration against gun violence. However, racial-related protests and riots continued to persist, including the Ferguson Unrest in 2014 that led to protests and rioting in Ferguson, Missouri. The most recent example is the George Floyd killing, which has led to mostly peaceful protests globally with some more violent incidents. These events highlight that while many protests and movements have shifted, often because of great success, race continues to be an issue leading to peaceful and violent protest movements in the United States.<ref>For more on recent protest and riots that shaped the United States, see: Stoltman, Joan. <i>Protests and Riots That Changed America</i>. American History. New York: Lucent Press, 2019.</ref>

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