PDF Colorados war on militant unionism: James H. Peabody and the Western Federation of Miners

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In September , local mine employees went on strike to get an eight-hour day for mill workers. The Mine Operators Association called on Governor James Peabody for assistance, and Peabody obliged by sending in National Guard troops to allow the mine owners to operate their mines with nonunion labor. In January , Smuggler-Union manager Wells became a captain in the National Guard, and he gained command of the district in late February. The winter was not snowy enough to block the high passes connecting Telluride to the union strongholds of Ouray and San Juan Counties, so Wells ordered the construction of a sentry post at Imogene Pass.

Located at 13, feet on the ridge slightly southeast of the actual pass, the installation consisted of a small wooden guardhouse protected by stone walls, a stone flag mount that may have briefly housed a rapid-fire Colt machine gun, and another small stone enclosure that could have protected a sniper.

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Named Fort Peabody after the governor, the post also had phone service to Telluride so the sentries could alert Wells if anyone made it over the pass. By that time the mine owners were fully in control, their mines and mills back to business as usual. In November the union called off its strike, signaling that its strength had been broken. After , Fort Peabody was no longer occupied, and by it had become an attraction for tourists who made their way to the top of Imogene Pass.

Over the twentieth century, the fort was battered by high winds and heavy snows but never received any stabilization or restoration, because of its remote location. The next year the fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and by local officials were starting to discuss whether and how to restore the structure. Some thought the fort should remain a ruin, some thought it should be stabilized to prevent further deterioration, and others wanted to see it fully restored.

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  7. The restoration crew found many artifacts at the site, including ammunition shells, pieces of leather, glass fragments, a hair pin, a piece of old newspaper, coal, and a fire poker. The restored fort is accessible to visitors via a short trail from Imogene Pass. Two non-union men were killed and five others on both sides were wounded in the melee. WFM members took refuge in their hall, but Company L of the National Guard surrounded the hall and laid siege, firing into the building from nearby rooftops.

    Forty union members eventually surrendered, with four of them sporting fresh wounds. The Citizen's Alliance entered the building and trashed it.

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    Vigilantes subsequently destroyed every union hall in the area, while General Bell used the National Guard to deport hundreds of strikers. Although the courts eventually acquitted all union members charged with the bombing of the railroad station during the —04 strike and awarded damages to those who had been deported, the strike and the union were broken in Cripple Creek; similar measures were resorted to in Telluride, Colorado. The actions effectively drove the WFM out of many of the mining camps in Colorado.

    On 18 September , about 4, miners struck Utah Copper Company "and all the principal mines, mills, and smelters of Bingham camp.

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    The company enlisted an army of 5, besides having the protection of the Utah National Guard. The strike ended in October and at the end of the month, Daniel C. Jackling raised wages. It also saw an end to the Padrone system. The strike was called without approval by the national WFM, which was extremely low on funds after the recent strikes in the west. The union supported the strike, but faced great difficulties providing pay and supplies to the strikers.

    Hundreds of strikers surrounded the mine shafts to prevent others from reporting to work. Almost all mines shut down, although the workers were said to be sharply divided on the strike question. The mines reopened under National Guard protection, and many went back to work. The hall was packed with between and people when someone shouted "fire. This became known as the Italian Hall Disaster.

    Shortly after the disaster, WFM president Charles Moyer was shot and then forcibly placed on a train headed for Chicago. The strikers held out until April , but then gave up the strike.

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    The WFM was left with almost no funds to run its operations or future strikes. In , the copper miners at Butte, Montana, split between those loyal to the WFM, and those supporting more militancy, many of whom sympathized with the more radical IWW. The dissidents established their own rival union, but neither the WFM or the new militant union was able to keep peace among the miners, so the mine owners recognized neither union.

    The result was that at Butte, for many years a WFM stronghold, the mine owners did not recognize any miners union from until The WFM's defeat led it to look for allies in the battle with employers in the Rockies, a struggle the union didn't want to concede. The WFM now sought to join with other advocates of industrial unionism and socialism to found a national union federation, the Industrial Workers of the World , in The WFM had adopted a socialist program in Haywood was the first chairman of the IWW; he defined its work as "socialism with its working clothes on".

    When Frank Steunenberg , a former governor of Idaho , was murdered on December 30, , the authorities arrested Charles Moyer , president of the union, Bill Haywood , its secretary, and George Pettibone , a former member, in Colorado and put them on trial for Steunenberg's murder. The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of Harry Orchard , who claimed that the union had directed him to plant the bombs that killed supervisors and strikebreakers during the second Cripple Creek strike and that Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone had hired him to assassinate Governor Steunenberg.

    The prosecution had depended heavily on the investigative work of James McParland who, acting as an operative for the Pinkerton Detective Agency , had helped convict the Molly Maguires three decades earlier, and felt confident that it would convict all three. McParland persuaded Orchard that he could avoid the gallows if he testified that an "inner circle" of Western Federation of Miners leaders had ordered the crime. The prosecution of that "inner circle" of the union was then funded, in part, by direct contributions from the Ceour d'Alene District Mine Owners' Association to prosecuting attorneys who were, ostensibly, working for the state rather than for private interests.

    If the Governor or the other officials of Idaho accept a cent from the operators or from any other capitalist with any reference, direct or indirect, to this prosecution, they would forfeit the respect of every good citizen and I should personally feel that they had committed a real crime.


    Roosevelt's strong words came in spite of the fact that he had already concluded the WFM leaders were guilty. Gooding then:. In addition to Idaho mine owners, powerful and wealthy industrialists outside of Idaho were also tapped in an effort to destroy the Western Federation of Miners.

    The defense hired Clarence Darrow , the most renowned lawyer of the day, who had represented Eugene V. Debs several years earlier. In spite of the combined efforts of state and local governments in Idaho and Colorado, the Mine Owners' Associations, the Pinkerton and Thiel Detective Agencies, and other interested industrialists, the jury acquitted Bill Haywood.

    Pettibone was also acquitted early the next year, and all charges against Moyer were dropped. His sentence was commuted, and he spent the rest of his life in an Idaho prison. Orchard died in prison in The failure of later strikes and the depression of brought about a sharp decline in the WFM's membership. The union had become largely ineffective, riddled with members who passed information on to their employers, and unable to win substantial gains for its members for most of the next two decades. Things changed, however, in when miners and smeltermen revitalized the union.

    Returning to its militant roots, the union spread throughout the west from its base in Butte, and then into the South and Canada. Metals Company. The union was one of the original members of the Committee for Industrial Organizing, which later transformed itself into the Congress of Industrial Organizations. The union also returned to its radical political traditions, as members of the Communist Party USA came to hold the presidency of the union in the late s.

    That, however, sparked further disagreements over leadership and expenditures and, as the postwar red scare picked up momentum, prompted raids by the United Steelworkers of America , the United Auto Workers and other unions, particularly in mining in the South, where the CIO encouraged predominantly white miners' locals to defect. Soft cover book with dust jacket. DJ edges are lightly rubbed..

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    Top text block edge has a small tan stain near spine that just barely penetrates top margins of a few pages.. Ann Arbor Press, Rear cover has some light scratches..

    The Relevance of Trade Unions

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