494 B.C. The plebians of Rome withdrew from the city and refused to work for days in order to correct grievances they had against the Roman consuls.
1765–1775 A.D. The American colonists mounted three major resistance campaigns against British rule (the Stamp Acts of 1765, the Townshend Acts of 1767, and the Coercive Acts of 1774), resulting in de facto independence for nine colonies by 1775.
1880s Laborers from County Mayo, Ireland led a successful "boycott" movement against Charles C. Boycott, a brutal British land agent who often used armed force to collect outrageous rents from local residents.
1900s Anti-imperialist protests in China erupted followed by an economic boycott of American-made goods protesting the Chinese Exclusion Act and calling for an end to immigration laws that discriminated against Chinese who wanted to enter the United States (during the 1870s and 1880s scores of Chinese immigrants were murdered in the Western United States during anti-Chinese riots). In 1919, a new round of anti-imperialist protest broke out, known as the May 4th Movement, which also relied on a boycott. This time, however, the boycott was not aimed at American imperialism, but rather at Japan which had gained control of Chinese territory formally held by Germany under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
1905–1906 Russian peasants, workers, students, and the intelligentsia engaged in major strikes and other forms of economic action, forcing the Czar to accept the creation of an elected legislature.
1910 French railway workers on strike destroyed the wooden shoes called "sabots" that held the train tracks in place, thereby bringing to a halt all rail traffic. Hence the word "sabotage."
1919–1920 A series of labor strikes in Egypt and a boycott campaign against Lord Milner and his fellow commissioners, who were perceived as the embodiment of British colonialism, led to Egypt's complete independence from British rule.
1920 An attempted coup d'etat, led by the ultra right-wing leader Wolfgang Kapp against the Weimar Republic of Germany, failed when the population went on a general strike, refusing to give its consent and cooperation to the new government.
1920s–1947 Mahatma Gandhi's organized campaign of non-cooperation with the British raj included a complete boycott of British goods; the idea for which came from Gandhi studying China's boycott of American goods in the early 1900s. The campaign known as swadeshi (reliance on indigenous products) seriously damaged textile manufacturing in Britain, and was contributory to British granting Indian independence in 1947.
1955–1968 Using a variety of methods, including bus boycotts, economic boycotts, massive demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, and freedom rides, the U.S. civil rights movement won passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which for the first time legally sanctioned equal rights for African-Americans.
1959–1994 The anti-apartheid movement was launched via a boycott led by South Africans that mobilized millions around the world, particularly students, through mass action. A series of boycotts, demonstrations, hunger strikes, divestment campaigns, economic sanctions, and other activities eventually led to the dismantling of apartheid and Nelson Mandela's inauguration as the first democratically elected State President of a multiracial South Africa, on 10 May 1994.
1968–1984 American farm workers, led by Cesar Chavez, organized a worldwide boycott of California grapes, and later Chiquita bananas and non-union lettuce, which successfully led to union contracts between the United Farm Workers Association (UFW) and the growers.
1977–1984 One of the largest non-union boycotts was against Nestle, whose aggressive and deceptive marketing practices of its infant formula contributed to a worldwide decline in breastfeeding and the concurrent increase in "bottle baby deaths." The boycott caused Nestle a loss of over a billion dollars in profits, and forced the company to change its practices.
1981–1987 Poland’s suppressed labor movement, led by Lech Walesa, benefited greatly from international economic sanctions and boycotts, when the USA led the way in imposing economic penalties on Poland after the Communist government in 1981 banned the Solidarity movement and arrested about 30,000 Solidarity members. The liberalization in Poland that brought about an end to the Communist regime was prompted in significant part by the desire of Poland’s Communist government to get rid of the sanctions. The collapse of the Communist regime in Poland precipitated the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the break up of the Soviet Union.
1990s–2002 With the blessing of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s jailed pro-democracy leader, a coalition of activist groups in the West started a boycott movement in the early nineties. Their initial efforts were modest, with calls for "Boycott Made in Burma", "Boycott Made in Myanmar", "No Tourism in Burma", and "Anti-Slave Labour" campaigns. The persistence and focus of the Burmese activists and their single-minded pursuit of economic action persuaded President Clinton to ban all new American investment in Burma, and pushed Europe to place economic sanctions on that nation. Since 1995, at least 50 foreign companies have pulled out of the country. Mynamar's financial desperation led it to begin secret talks with the opposition in October 2001 facilitated by a United Nations special envoy, Razali Ismail. This further led to Aung San Suu Kyi’s release in May 2002.
1995–present Prior to his execution by hanging, Ken Saro-Wiwa called for a boycott of Shell Oil Company from his prison cell in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Saro-Wiwa was jailed by Nigeria's brutal military junta for leading a series of protests against Royal Dutch Shell. Ogoni leaders and their supporters continue to engage in direct action against Shell.
2002 December 7th In honor of Human Rights Day (December 10th) the Boycott Made in China campaign is launched worldwide by Tibetans, Chinese, Uyghurs and their supporters.
2004 Reporters without Borders launches a Boycott Beijing Olympics 2008 campaign arguing that giving China the honor of hosting the 2008 Olympics has not improved the human rights situation there but rather represssion has intensified, especially against Tibetans and Uighers.