Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Miners Strike On Western Wednesday...!

Let's get away from the gunfights and such for a moment, and consider what the miners of the wild west had to go through for a time.

They had the beginnings of a union, but getting it recognized was no easy matter. Violence was as likely to start around the mines due to labor unrest as it was when it came to something like cattle rustling.

Colorado governor sends militia to Cripple Creek

Determined to crush the union of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), Colorado Governor James Peabody sends the state militia into the mining town of Cripple Creek.

The strike in the gold mines of Cripple Creek began that summer. William “Big Bill” Haywood’s Western Federation of Miners called for a sympathy strike among the underground miners to support a smelter workers’ strike for an eight-hour day. The WFM, which was founded in 1893 in Montana, had already been involved in several violent strikes in Colorado and Idaho. By the end of October, the call for action at Cripple Creek had worked, and a majority of mine and smelter workers were idle; Cripple Creek operations ground to a halt. Eager to resume mining and break the union, the mine owners turned to Governor Peabody, who agreed to provide state militia protection for replacement workers.

Outraged, the miners barricaded roads and railways, but by the end of September more than a thousand armed men were in Cripple Creek to undermine the strike. Soldiers began to round up union members and their sympathizers-including the entire staff of a pro-union newspaper-and imprison them without any charges or evidence of wrongdoing. When miners complained that the imprisonment was a violation of their constitutional rights, one anti-union judge replied, “To hell with the Constitution; we’re not following the Constitution!”

Such tyrannical tactics swung control of the strike to the more radical elements in the WFM, and in June 1904, Harry Orchard, a professional terrorist employed by the union, blew up a railroad station, which killed 13 strikebreakers. This recourse to terrorism proved a serious tactical mistake. The bombing turned public opinion against the union, and the mine owners were able to freely arrest and deport the majority of the WFM leaders. By midsummer, the strike was over and the WFM never again regained the power it had previously enjoyed in the Colorado mining districts.

As you can see, the fight for equal rights and justice has never been an easy one. One thing rings true in all cases, though. Violence is never the best way to sway public opinion, back then or in the present day!

Coffee out on the patio after the rain showers are through passing by.


linda m said...

Violence only breeds more violence. Sure wish there were more peaceful ways to settles disagreements. Seems to me people just don't have the patience anymore to settle disagreements in a peaceful manor. Also corporations need to be more respectful of their employees rights. Now I can get down off my soapbox and have some coffee. I'll bring a pumpkin pie the we all can share.

HermitJim said...

Always ready to share some pumpkin pie! Actually, any pie is fine by me!
Thanks for coming by today!

JO said...

This also happened in Bisbee, AZ I have a little book The Bisbee Deportation, by Gary Dillard which gives a quick account of the fighting.

It sure is cold out had to run to Walmart to buy a turkey, got a call last night from the person that was bringing it that they weren't coming grrrrr

HermitJim said...

Hey Jo...
I hate it when that happens! Last minute cancellations are bad enough, but when they are supposed to bring the main course...
Thanks, sweetie, for dropping by today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

My first real job required that I join the union. I had no choice. I always hated to be forced to do something.

HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
I know what you mean. Never liked to be forced into doing something either. Get's my dander up, for sure.
Thanks for coming over today!