411 BCE: Arguably the oldest boycott is to be found in Aristophanes’ story of Lysistrata, who sought to end the Peloponnesian War by persuading the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace.
Late 1700s: on the eve of Passover, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, Ukraine declared the local matzoh factory treif (not kosher) because “the women in this factory work from early morning until late at night. They are laboring too long and too hard. They are not being paid fairly for their labors.” In so doing, he triggered a boycott of the factory’s matzoh by Jews in the community.
1773: Boston Tea Party – the dumping of British Tea into the Boston Harbor as part of a movement resisting taxation by the British of the colonists without representation.
1774: Continental Congress vote to boycott British goods and refuse to export goods to Britain.
1790: Supporters of abolition of the slave trade in Britain urge a boycott of sugar produced with slave labor.
1902: Chinese boycott of American products to protest the extension of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1902.
1902: Jewish women on the Lower East Side of New York boycott local butchers in order to bring down a rise in the regulated price of beef.
1903: Mohandas Gandhi and other anti-colonial leaders in India call for a boycott of British goods, launching the “Swadeshi” (self-sufficiency) movement.
1915, 1919, 1928, 1972, and 2005: Boycotts of Japanese products by the Chinese in response to Japanese aggression toward China.
1933: Anti-Nazi boycott of German goods in the US, Lithuania, Britain, Poland and Palestine on account of the Nazi’s growing anti-semitism.
1934: Nazi counter-boycott of Jewish-owned businesses in Germany. 1936: Boycott by 26 countries of Olympics held in Berlin.
1945: Arab League boycott of Israel.
1955: Montgomery Bus Boycott to protest racial segregation in public transportation.
1959: Call by Anti-Apartheid movement in South African for British subjects to boycott South African goods. This boycott grew in deliberate steps to include a world-wide boycott, sanctions and divestment movement.
1965: Call by Anti-Apartheid movement in South African for an academic boycott of South African universities.
1965: United Farm Workers call for a national boycott of table grapes to protest the deplorable working conditions of farm workers.
1973: LGBT groups call for boycott of Coors beer products on account of the company's anti-gay hiring policies.
1977: Global boycott of Nestlé products in response to unethical marketing of Nestlé infant formula as a substitute for breast milk in global south.
1977: Boycott of Florida oranges called by LGBT community to protest Anita Bryant's successful campaign to repeal Dade County ordinance granting non- discrimination protections to LGBT people.
1980: US-led boycott by 65 countries of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow in protest of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
1984: Soviet-led boycott by 16 countries of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
1986: Call to boycott state of Arizona when its legislature refused to join other states in recognizing Martin Luther King's birthday as an official state holiday.
The timeline is available for download here.
In 2012 the law firm Milbank LLP made a gift to Harvard Law School ($200,000 annually for five years) to establish the “Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund” (the Fund). The Fund was set up to subsidize student events at Harvard, yet it informed HLS that it desired to discontinue the Fund after it learned about an event sponsored by the student group Justice in Palestine that had received $500 in funding from the “Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund” to cover catering expenses, and the students had acknowledged the Fund’s support in their announcements for the event – something required by law school policy.