This Week In History: October 1-7


This week in history: Mao Zedong proclaimed People’s Republic of China and Hurricane Flora devastates Haiti. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

October 1, 1949 – Mao Zedong proclaimed People’s Republic of China (PRC)

1946 Mao in Yan’an.

China has a lengthy, 2000 plus year history. In the last half century, it’s gone through many transitions in power. The early 1950’s brought Mao Zedong and the People’s Republic of China. This came about after years of conflict between Mao’s communist forces and the regime of Nationalist Chinese leader, Chaing Kai-Shek (whom the American government was supporting). As this was the age of the “Red Scare,” this loss to democracy was perceived as a huge blow to the United States. The Truman administration was lambasted by Republicans and even accused to “have gone soft on communism,” as Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), would say.

Learn more about the PRC and the global landscape of the time in Foundations of Eastern Civilization

October 2, 1963 – Hurricane Flora devastates Haiti

With a death toll of over 7000, Hurricane Flora is one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes in recorded history. Brewing southwest of the Cape Verde islands for a week, the tropical storm quickly strengthened to a Category 3 before hitting the Winward Islands and Tobago. At this point it had sustained winds of 145 mph (233 km/h). As the storm hit southwestern Haiti, it produced winds up to 120 mph (190 km/h)  and dropped over 75 inches (1900 mm) of rain in three days. The storm surge was estimated to have exceeded 12 feet (3.7m). 

Storm total rainfall for Hurricane Flora of September/October 1963

Entire plantations were washed away, crops destroyed, and even future crop yields were ruined as well by the torrential rain. Besides the infrastructure, the human loss was much greater than any crop yield. An estimated 3,500 people were confirmed dead at the time and thousands reported missing. The estimated death count is 5000 people and $125-180 million in damage (1963 USD).

Learn more about the intensity of weather in The Science of Extreme Weather