pages 200 to 219
By GUY E. MILLER.
The Telluride strike was the result of a demand for an eight-hour day for the mill men working in the jurisdiction of that union.
The present strike is so closely connected with the strike of 1901 that a resume of the situation is necessary to an understanding of the conditions in that camp.
On the 1st of May, 1901, a strike was declared on the Smuggler-Union properties for the abolition of the contract system. This system was introduced by Manager Arthur Collins, a man whose hate of unionism seemed innate and who fully believed that corporations had the right to prescribe the conditions under which the workers would be permitted to live without a word of protest on their part.
Under the contract system the miner boarded at the company's boarding house, was furnished powder and tools; at the termination of his contract the expenses incident to his work, board, powder, etc., were deducted from the amount owed him by the company—a stated sum per fathom. Under this system piece work applied to mining, the price per fathom was steadily reduced and the exactions [sic] of the company increased. At its inception the miner was only required to break the ore, but before the strike he had to reduce the ore to a suitable size and throw it into the mill holes.
Some men made fair wages; others quit work in debt to the company.
During the strike the company employed thug deputies, although the union had offered to guard the property and guarantee its protection without expense to the company. Union men were beaten up whenever opportunity offered. The trouble culminated the 3rd of July, 1903, when the deputies opened fire on a band of union men, instantly killing John Barthell. The fire was returned and in the fight which followed two of the scabs were killed and a few men injured; among them Charles Becker, superintendent of the mine.
An agreement was reached between Manager Collins and the union under which the contract system was continued in a modified form. The company or the individual had the right to terminate a contract at any time, but the contractor received at least wages for the time he was employed.
In the campaign of that year Vincent St. John, president of the union and leader of the strike, was the Democratic nominee for sheriff. He was most bitterly opposed by the mine managers who formed a close alliance with the Republicans, who nominated Cal Rutan. Rutan was elected by a small majority, and has obeyed his masters with more than asinine docility.
During the strike and throughout the campaign, the Telluride Journal, long known as an enemy of organized labor, attacked it and St. John with all the malignant hate that base natures can fee' for those who would be free. Assassins and murderers were its favorite terms in characterizing the union men.
On the 1st of January a boycott was put on the Telluride Journal that for more than a month was better kept than the ten commandments. The Journal was tottering to its fall. Mr. Collins succeeded in organizing a Business Men's Association to sustain the sheet. It has since become a Citizens' Alliance—the concrete expression of the Journal's hatred for organized labor. From the day of its birth to the present these twin devils of hate and greed have sown the seeds of discord and now strong men, tender women and helpless infants are reaping the harvest in an exile's camp.
On the 20th of November one of the direct tragedies recorded in the history of metalliferous mining occurred at the Bullion tunnel of the Smuggler-Union mine. The tram house at the entrance to the tunnel caught fire. A carload of baled hay had been dumped at the mouth of the tunnel. On that cold November day the warm air of the tunnel formed a perfect chimney for the smoke and gas. Mr. Edgar Collins, superintendent of the mine, directed fitful efforts to stop the flames, then gave his attention to removing Winchesters and munitions of war from their close proximity to the flames. It is no more than charitable, perhaps only just, to state that he did not understand the significance of his action in attempting to save arms rather than men.
The fire had made great ravages before any attempt was made to warn the men in the mine of their danger. When a messenger was sent he attempted to bring the men out by the same entrance he came in, instead of another, nearly a mile distant, from the flames. All who followed his lead lost their lives, as did many others.
The fire soon attracted the notice of men on the Tom Boy, and a group of them, headed by the foreman, Wm. Hutchison, soon arrived. On viewing the smoke pouring into the tunnel, Hutchison at once gave orders to blow up the mouth of the tunnel. Had that order been given as soon as it was apparent that the fire could not be extinguished, all would have been saved.
As soon as the fire died away a rescue party began the work of removing the debris from the mouth of the tunnel. All that night in the flickering light of a gas jet we worked to bring our brothers to the light. The first rescue party were driven back by the smoke and gas and several narrowly escaped suffocation. Twenty-five men perished; sixteen union men were buried at one funeral.
I have heard the miners accused of being cold-hearted and unfeeling. I have never heard a charge more basely false. The mines were all closed on the day of the funeral and the mining population of the hills with delegations from surrounding camps followed our brothers to the grave. There were but few cries, but gloom sat on the brows and grief clutched at the hearts of those men who saw the interment of a sacrifice. Well they knew that "someone had blundered."
It was a colossal sacrifice to the weakness and inefficiency of a man who should have been wise and efficient. For such blunders—worse than crimes—no one seems to be blamed, least of all the directors who would seem to owe some duty to the men who risk their lives in the creation of dividends. It would seem that they owe the duty of appointing men to places of trust for their efficiency rather than their connections, and the further duty to provide at least all the safety appliances prescribed by law. Neglect of such duties renders them liable, morally, for the consequences resulting therefrom. Place the list of such victims by the list of offences, crimes if you wish, charged against the union, and the latter fade into insignificance.
I might mention here that it is only crimes in which they think there is a possibility of implicating the union or a member of it that are heralded abroad. There are some prominent Citizens' Alliance men that don't care to have Jim Clark's murder investigated. Sam Huston, a union man, was shot under an electric light a few months ago. But little was said or done. The disappearance of men has been charged to the union persistently months after the alleged victim was seen on the streets of Denver. How many alleged union crimes exist in the bloody imaginations of that band of men who have organized vigilant committees to dispose of objectionable men, but who have never had the nerve to call in person?
A year after the Smuggler-Union fire, the community was shocked by the report that Manager Arthur Collins had been shot. He died a short time after. The assassin had stood near a window and fired a load of buck shot into the back of the victim. It was a loathsome, horrible crime. None regretted it more than union men. He had not gotten along well with the union. I should not judge that he was well calculated to make friends with working men anywhere. The old idea of master and servant was too strongly in evidence in his treatment of them. But men do not commit murder for any such reasons. It is not the clash of principles nor the question of manner of an individual that will explain the commission of such a crime. Only a weak, unbalanced mind, smarting under the sense of personal wrong and without the courage to meet the wrongdoer face to face, could have been guilty of such a cowardly crime. Manager Collins had made enemies, but he had the respect of the miners. He always fought in the open. He stood without equivocation. He represented the interests of the company and used the methods he deemed best adapted to serve their interests. It is the camp follower and not the soldier who commits the crimes at which the common instincts of humanity revolt. Such was the murderer. Such deeds are in direct conflict with the spirit of unionism, its principles and its methods.
On the last day of February a snow slide occurred on the property of the Liberty Bell, destroying considerable property and the lives of seventeen men. This was the accident explained by Adjutant General Gardner as an evidence of the '' wrath of God" and a visitation of his justice on the Telluride union. Men acquainted with the general say that his conduct does not evince any close communion with the Almighty. Men who search for natural causes explain it by saying that the trees for a long distance on the mountain side had been cut by the company for mining timbers.
Other accidents might be mentioned, but these are sufficient to show that the lives of working men are subordinate to other considerations with the companies and all have conspired to intensify the bitterness existing between the mining companies and the miners.
The failure of the legislature to pass an eight hour law after the amendment had been passed by such an overwhelming majority, was a great disappointment to organized labor everywhere. It seemed clear to them that neither the solemn sanction of an oath nor the unmistakable mandate of the people could direct legislators under the seductive influence of corporate gold. The lawmakers were against them. If they were to better their conditions they must take by organization that which they should have enjoyed by legislation.
The annual convention of the San Juan District Union met the 1st of August and passed a resolution demanding an eight hour day for the mill and smeltermen in their jurisdiction, to take effect not later than September 1, 1903. A committee from the millmen of the Telluride union was chosen, their demands formulated and presented to the Telluride Mining Association. The association replied that some of the men included in the demands were under a contract that had more than a year to run and that the scale submitted by the committee called for the same wage for an eight-hour day as was formerly paid for ten and twelve hours. A meeting of the union was called and the demands modified. All men under contract were to work as before. There was a general reduction of 50 cents per day in wages. Men working for $4 were to get $3.50, and the $3.50 men were to get $3. $3 to constitute a minimum wage.
The committee from the union met a committee from the association composed of Bulkely Wells [actually, Bulkeley Wells. —webmaster] of the Smuggler-Union, Cooper Anderson of the Nellie and A. C. Koch of the Alta. Mr. Wells acted as spokesman. He stated that he would submit our demands to the association. No reply was ever received and a few days later the San Juan Mining Association was formed.
The mill men under the jurisdiction of the Telluride union were notified to quit work on the 1st of September. They obeyed. The miners were all "laid off" excepting a crew for development work on the Tom Boy and the Smuggler-Union, which continued to operate the mill with the office force and a few scabs, Manager Wells himself donning overalls. A few days later the Federal Labor union ordered out the cooks and waiters on the Smuggler-Union properties. The miners were discharged. The shut down was complete.
The strike had been on some three weeks, when a member of the Socialist Labor party, Philip Veal, was arrested; his place was immediately filled by Frank Jordan, a Socialist, who was also arrested. Arrests followed quick and fast until some six or eight had been made. The defendants were all acquitted or dismissed with the exception of J. C. Barnes, whose case was continued. The Citizens' Alliance, with the mine managers as silent sympathizers and assistants, was very active in the prosecution.
The Tom Boy mine had increased and diminished its working crew several times, and always, it seemed, for the purpose of securing men who considered their job first, the union an afterthought. The force had reached nearly a hundred men, there was an immense ore reserve, the bins being filled. If any employe expressed sentiments favorable to the union, he was promptly "sent down the hill." The mill was put in readiness and the mill men who were willing to accept the company's terms brought in. Men were to be put to the test. The company had decided on a meeting night to talk over the situation with its employes. The union held a meeting and considered it unwise to permit the company to further discriminate against union men or to break ore for scab mill men to treat. The men on the Tom Boy were ordered out on the 21st of October and every man obeyed the call; and later, when the company desired to start up with scabs under military protection, the foreman and nearly all the shift bosses resigned their positions. It was a decisive victory for the union.
Pickets were now placed at Conn's Japan store. This store is practically surrounded by Tom Boy property. Deputy sheriffs tried every means to provoke a quarrel. One night they had been particularly offensive, throwing several volleys of stones at the store and, when one of the pickets stepped outside, fired a shot and called him vile names. They were going to force a fight. The militia was expected daily. The next day four men were sent "up the hill" to change the picket's headquarters to Conn's Smuggler store, where the deputies could not well disturb them without becoming trespassers. The pack horses were loaded with bedding, etc., and the men were proceeding down the hill, when the deputies began making arrests. They pulled one man off his horse and struck him over the head with a revolver and struck another a vicious blow in the back with a Winchester, though he dropped his gun and threw himself on the ground when he was ordered to surrender. That was a lively night in Telluride. Deputies and Citizens' Alliance men were standing on the principal street corners with shot guns and Winchesters ready and expecting to do business. It is also said that each of them carried a revolver. Bulkely Wells came out of the Journal office with a sack of rifles. After all their preparation to commit murder, no excuse was offered them for its commission and they were compelled to glut their vengeance on the prisoners who were arrested that night and the next day. Those at the mine on a charge of trespass and conspiracy, those from the town on the charge of conspiracy alone. The trespass consisted in traveling over a road that had been in constant use for more than twenty years. They were finally released under $750 and $1,000 bonds.
For some time preceding these events the Liberty Bell company had been driving a tunnel, one of their machine men quit and a Tom Boy miner who had been discharged on account of his union sentiments, applied for a job. The foreman stated that he wanted a man, asked his name and stated that if he was not on the list he would give him a situation. He did not get the job, and found that no one who had been discharged by the Tom Boy company, or who had obeyed the union call to quit work, was eligible for employment. This was blacklisting with a vengeance. At the next meeting of the union, it was voted to call out all the men on the Liberty Bell mine.
The calling out of the men on the Liberty Bell and Tom Boy mines was bitterly denounced by the mine managers as a violation of the contract entered into November 28, 1901, expiring three years later. From the standpoint of union men, neither an individual nor an organization is under any obligation to commit suicide. In each case there was discrimination against union men that soon must have led to the disruption of the organization and at the Tom Boy there was a further attempt to use union men to defeat the strike by the production of ore for the scab mill men. Further, the essence of this contract has been violated from its inception by the mine managers. Under the contract the price of board had been raised from 90 cents to $1 per day, the only consideration so far as the miners were concerned was the privilege of boarding where they chose. Some men who were exercising that privilege at the Tom Boy mine were notified by the foreman and shift boss within a month after the contract went into effect that they would have to board at the company's boarding house or quit work.
President St. John protested against this violation. Manager Herron said in reply that all men found it necessary sometimes to make contracts which they knew they could not keep. Violations more or less flagrant were made by all the companies.
About the 1st of October the writer learned that the mine managers were not pledged to refuse an eight-hour day, but simply to grant no concessions that would increase the cost of milling. An interview with Manager Herron soon resulted. A few days later we took the same train to Denver and arrived at a fair understanding. The interviews were continued in Denver with the addition of Messrs. Chase and Wells from the mine managers, and Secretary Haywood and Attorney Murphy for the Federation. Good feeling seemed to prevail—the first essential to a lasting settlement. Attorney Murphy and myself for the Federation, and the mine managers with Mr. Atchison as the representative of Mr. Herron, and Mr. Melville, a personal representative of the governor. The mine managers at this time seemed willing to grant more than we demanded. In broad, general terms eight hours was to constitute a day's work about the mines and mills and $3 a minimum wage. Such a settlement would have given Telluride industrial peace for years. Manager Wells, when asked by Mr. Melville if he were willing to pay the same money to three men working eight hours each that he had paid to two men working twelve hours each, replied that it was not to be considered. "I know that I can't get my old mill men back for less than $3.50 per day.'' Later at a meeting of the Citizens' Alliance, Mr. Wells stated that if the whole matter was left to himself, Chase and Melville for the mine managers; Miller and Murphy for the miners, the whole thing could be settled in an hour. This on Mr. Melville 's authority. It was not to be; the influence of the Citizens' Alliance prevailed. No further negotiations were made. A delegation importuned the governor for troops and they were sent.
Almost immediately after the arrival of the troops thirty-eight men were arrested on the charge of vagrancy, nearly all were found guilty and given two days to go to work or leave. Nine were rounded up and commenced a jail sentence of from twelve to twenty days. One of the boys had $140 on his person at the time of his arrest—it did not save him from doing time. Writs of habeas corpus were served in the vagrancy and conspiracy cases. Judge Wardlaw decided that if there were no legal defect in the papers, the commitment was legal and he would not inquire into the evidence. That you have committed no offense is not a defense—if anyone swears you did and makes no mistake in the complaint or service—you will serve your sentence if you are a striker.
On the 23rd of December, eighteen men, the writer among them, was thrown into jail on a charge of "intent to intimidate." I had been thrown into jail with the "conspirators" for talking to the prisoners from the window of the county judge's office. As I was brought in Sheriff Rutan said, "you must have had your feelings pretty badly hurt," alluding to the damage suits that had been filed against him. At 8 o'clock that night we were brought before Justice Holmes and asked to plead. J. C. Barnes and O. M. Carpenter asked to give bond, $250, the justice was too sleepy to fix the bond. At 4:30 eleven of the men were called out, Barnes and Carpenter among them, taken to the special and thrown into jail at Montrose. When the time for preliminary hearing arrived the prosecuting attorney ordered the cases nollied [sic] — though he had sworn out the information. While the men were going to Montrose they were called one at a time—most of them had been arrested for conspiracy—and offered their liberty and assured that all charges would be dismissed if they would not return. None availed themselves of the opportunity. Some were threatened with death if they returned.
The first Sunday night of 1904, witnessed the proclamation of martial law in Telluride; the censorship of the press, telegraph and telephone, and the deportation of thirty-one men.
The strikers were conducting a literary when a group of soldiers strode, into the hall, set down their guns with a bang, the officer in command stepped under the electric light and read the proclamation in a voice trembling with emotion. Why he should have trembled I could not imagine. Was it fear? A large portion of the audience were women and children. Was it a sense of his own importance in the game being played? Or did the ghost of his dead manhood rise up and protest against the brutality of his act ?
Among the deported were J. C. Williams, vice president of the Western Federation, who had been looking after the finances, and Attorney Engley, who had conducted the striker's defense. We were paraded through the streets under military guard, a squad of cavalry occasionally dashing by; drawn up in front of military headquarters and singly taken before his majesty, Major Zeph T. Hill, where we were asked the following questions: "How long have you been here ? What is your occupation ? Where were you born?
Thirty-one men, in addition to the seven incumbents, taxed the capacity of the jail, but in the opinion of our generous authorities nothing was too good for a striker, so we took our medicine. The following morning we were given a sandwich and cup of coffee, after which the militia guarded us to the train, preventing the Citizens' Alliance renewing their acquaintance with us; cutting short the "good byes" of husbands, fathers and sons.
We were given a military escort to Ridgeway, where we were lined up on the sidewalk and informed that we were taken out of San Miguel county because we were not wanted there. (We had guessed as much before, but this made it certain.) If we returned we would foe thrown into the bull pen and kept there indefinitely. If we showed any signs of disrespect to the militia we would be immediately re-arrested.
We proceeded to Montrose and established headquarters for the deported men. Other deportations followed, one of which is best described by the Denver Post:
SIBERIAN EXILING SCENES.
"Telluride, Colo., Jan. 15.—Tears, curses, maledictions and prayers were heard at the depot this morning when the train pulled out of the station having on board six union miners, who were being deported by the military. The men were given breakfast early, the meal being served from the Sheridan hotel, after which the wife of one of them was reluctantly permitted to visit her husband in jail. At 8 o'clock a bunch of bluecoats, under the command of Captain Scholz, marched to the court house and the prisoners were taken to the county jail and formed into line, ready for the march to the station. A woman with a small child attempted to fall in line with her husband, but was brutally prevented by the soldiers, who forced her back on the sidewalk. With a face drawn with bitter agony and grief she endeavored to keep up with the soldiers as they marched down the streets, but the prisoners had reached the train long before she had gone a block.
"At the depot the men were immediately put aboard the train and two soldiers stationed at the car windows. The relatives of the men were allowed to talk to them, and for a moment the air was filled with tearful good-byes and well wishes. Fifteen minutes before the signal was given to start three women came running down the track. One of them, Mabel Marchinado, a mere girl, hardly 17 years old, weeping bitterly, rushed over the icy platform to the window in which one of the men was sitting, and exclaimed: 'Oh, papa, what are they going to do with you?'
"Her father, Tony Marchinado, endeavored to comfort her, but the girl continued sobbing pitifully. The sympathy of the entire crowd at the depot went out to this girl, and some turned away. Then the soldiers ordered her to move on. The girl suddenly ceased weeping and, turning to those standing, and in a voice loud enough for the military to hear, said: 'I think it's a living shame for men living in this country to be treated in such a manner.' She was not arrested.
"The woman with the small child in the meantime reached the depot almost exhausted. She purchased a ticket and boarded the train on which her husband was about to be sent into exile. She cried bitterly and her baby was blue with cold. 'I am too sick to work and look after our baby alone, and I am going with my husband, if it means the jail,' she moaned. If ever volumes of mute sympathy went out from a crowd, it went out to this woman, whose mental and physical sufferings seemed to grow greater as she bent down her head and fondly kissed the lips of her offspring, in a vain endeavor to hush its cries from the biting cold. It was by far the saddest incident yet recorded in the military occupation of Telluride and the subsequent deportation of striking miners."
The deported men were Tony Marchinado, Tony Sartoris, Leuis Sartoris, F. W. Wells, Matt Lingol and Battiste Monchiando.
My story is done, though the strike still continues and men remain in exile because mine managers feel that it will help them to win the strike. Any comment on the methods used would be superfluous. "The end justifies the means," nay, more, it determines the means. When the rights of the many are to be subserved in the interest of a few, a combination of force and fraud is necessary. The combination has been effected and used, whether successful or not, and if so, how long belongs to the future.
To the future I respectfully dedicate the Telluride strike.
GUY B. MILLER.
In the fifty-eighth Congress, second session, senate document No. eighty-six, the mine owners made, through their secretary, and introduced by Senator Scott, of Virginia, what was called a review of the labor troubles in the metalliferous mines of the Rocky Mountain region. The document commences with the following vituperous language:
"During all these years an alleged labor organization, known as the Western Federation of Miners, has been endeavoring, with considerable success, to obtain a hold on this particular industry through the unionization of these mines, and the history of this campaign, with its record of murder, arson, dynamiting and riot, to say nothing of the more petty crimes, such as assaults, intimidation, threats and personal abuse, all committed for the purpose of intimidating and coercing men engaged in earning a livelihood, is enough to shock humanity.
"No parallel can be found for it in the labor history of the world, unless it be in the Molly Maguire organization, which maintained a reign of terror in the Pennsylvania coal fields prior to 1877. During times of comparative peace the career of this organization has been marked by nocturnal assaults and secret assassinations, while now and again they have broken out into open warfare amounting to insurrection. Whenever a mine owner has assumed to stand against their aggressions or to employ as laborers men not members of this organization, his life and his property have been the forfeit. Criminal, cruel, untiring, militant, political parties have obeyed their behest, honorable judges have been retired to private life for decisions to them, obnoxious courts have yielded to their mandates, and sheriffs and other peace officers, often selected from their own number, have been their willing agents. When an executive has been found big enough and brave enough and patriotic enough to rise above political expediency and take a firm stand in favor of law and order and the preservation of those rights guaranteed by the Constitution, as did Governor Sternberg, [actually, Governor Steunenberg. —webmaster] in Idaho, in 1899, and as Governor Peabody is doing in Colorado today, protests such as that embodied in the resolution under consideration have gone up from certain quarters, either inspired by sympathy with the acts and purposes of this organization or with the hope of obtaining some political advantages through them, or, as we trust is the case with the present resolution, by ignorance of the facts which have engendered the condition.
"On account of the machinations and methods of the Western Federation of Miners, the metalliferous mining industry of the West has been in a chaotic state for a period of years. That a person was operating his property one day under satisfactory conditions was no guaranty that he would be able to do so the next. To make a contract with the Federation has always been a mere form, for this organization knows nothing of the sanctity of such an obligation. Continual aggressions have been supplemented by open outbreaks of alarming frequency."
A careful perusal of the pages of this work—which is true, and which is carefully compiled and with much labor in ascertaining facts, dates, etc.,—will demonstrate to the reader the manner in which an "executive big enough and brave enough to take a firm stand in favor of law and order and the preservation of those rights guaranteed by the constitution" construes law and order and the constitution. I refer you to the arrest of the Record force, the arrest of Dodsworth, the "nocturnal" visits of the "constitution preserving" military to Sherman Parker's home, the arrest of children, the intimidation of courts, the attempted murder of Emil Peterson, the refusal of Chase to abide by the decision of the court, the assault on Mr. Glover, and I might add, the murder of the burro.
As for the charge that "a person was operating his property one day under satisfactory conditions was no guaranty," etc., I refer you to the Portland and the statement of the "biggest" and most honest one of them all—Mr. James F. Burns.
"In 1901 the Smuggler-Union mine, at Telluride, Colo., became involved in trouble with the Western Federation. The mine was using what is known as the contract system, i. e., the miners were paid according to the amount of ground broken, instead of by the day. It was admitted that a man who was willing to do a fair day's work could earn the union scale, which means a minimum of $3.00 per day for eight hours' work, but nevertheless the Federation demanded that system discontinued. The management refused to abandon the contract system and the strike followed. Some non-union men were put at work, and on July 3 an armed body of union men attacked the mine, killed and wounded several persons, dislodged the non-union men, and took possession of the property. The non-union men were driven into the hills, and with their wounded companions were compelled to find their way on foot to places of safety."
As to the truth of the above statement, I refer you to the "Telluride Strike," by Guy E, Miller.
"So that it will be seen that in all these strikes the Western Federation has not only indulged in coercion, picketing, threats and intimidation, but has resorted to riot, arson, bloodshed and general disorder as well, and in all of these localities, in times of outward quiet, assaults, intimidation, and even murder, have been committed for the purpose of forcing men into the union. There can be no individual freedom where this organization gains a foothold.
"During the past few months the Cripple Creek district has been the center of the disorders generated by the Western Federation, both because it employs more labor than any other mining camp in the state, and because the Federation looked upon it as one of its strongholds and the best place to strike a decisive blow."
If the above is a fair picture of the construction put upon the strike in the Cripple Creek district, by the Mine Owners' Association, I can say, and say truthfully, that their eyes, in looking at the strikers, were covered with gory goggles, while the eyes with which they viewed their own actions, carried out by the misapplied militia of Colorado, could have been located no where else than in the soles of their feet!
Ye Gods! let us recapitulate!
"Riot." References: I desire to call the attention of the reader to the fact that eighty-nine men were arraigned before the courts to answer to the charge of riot, many of whom are prominent mine owners of Clear Creek county, Colorado. These eighty-nine men are the "law and order" brigade who made "nocturnal" assaults upon fourteen members of the Western Federation of Miners and drove them from their homes at the point of deadly weapons!
In Telluride Bulkely Wells, the manager of the Smuggler Union mine, after securing five rifles from the office of the Telluride Journal, headed a mob and marched down the streets in company with Meldrum and Runnels, desperadoes, who glory in their criminal records, and who feel nattered in being recognized as the partners of Tom Horn, who was executed in Wyoming for the murder of a little boy!
At Dutch Flat, California, several months ago, three members of the Western Federation of Miners were met by a mob, who, at the instigation of the mine owners, tarred and feathered their victims, solely because they delegated to themselves the right to organize a local union!
Local references: Herding citizens of all unions, like cattle upon the streets, Sunday, September 20, 1903.
Breaking up of the high school dance by drunken militia.
Rotten-egging the Novelty theatre by militia-men, December 29, 1903.
"Arson!" Local references: The burning of Dennison's (a union man) house on the night of September 2. Incendiary!
Burning of a union man's house in Santa Rita in September. Incendiary!
The incendiary burning of three union men's homes in Cripple Creek in December.
"Coercion!" The forcing of the imported Danes to work at the point of bayonets early in September!
The forcing of the Record to cease publishing the official statement, December 5, and on!
The forcing of Glover to refrain from being interviewed!
"Intimidation!" The military capture of Judge Seeds' court, September 21.
The suppression of the Record's editorials, December 5.
The threat to shut off the supply of ore from the Dorcas mill, in November.
The arrest of C. G. Kennison while at a funeral, November 22!
Stationing sharpshooters on the National hotel, September 23 !
The threats to "blow the Record force's heads off," September 30! The declaration of martial law, December 4!
The enforcement of the "vag" order, January 7!
The threatened arrest of R. E. Croskey, December 5.
"Dynamiters!" References: The public might inquire as to who was the most interested in the blowing up of the assay offices in the Cripple Creek district in 1902; where ore thieves, it is said, deposited their high grade.
Who was responsible for the dynamiting of houses of prominent union men who reside at Newcastle, Colorado?
The Western Federation of Miners has been charged with the explosion which occurred at the Vindicator mine, which resulted in the death of two men. The mine, at the time the explosion occurred, was surrounded by the state military and no union man was permitted to come within close proximity to the property. The secret of the explosion could probably be told by the superintendent of the property, and the men who lost their lives on the 600-foot level of the Vindicator.
The Western Federation of Miners was charged with conspiring to blow up the Sun and Moon property at Idaho Springs, and a court and jury have exonerated every member of the organization from that charge.
The Federation has been charged with the blowing up of the Strong mine, in the Cripple Creek district, in 1894, in which mine Senator Scott is largely interested. Two of the members of the Federation were convicted by a judge and jury in Colorado Springs, the city which has won the title of "Little London" on account of the English aristocrats who have camped under the shadow of Pike's Peak. These two men served but a short time in prison when it became apparent that they were convicted through prejudice, and a Republican governor granted them a pardon. If Senator Scott and the Mine Owners' Association of Colorado believed these men were guilty why was it that Samuel Strong, the original owner, was afterwards arrested and charged, with the crime, and why was it that such strenuous efforts were made by Senator Scott and the stockholders of the property to convict Mr. Strong of the crime of dynamiting?
I would like to hear the mine owners answer the foregoing.
"Murder!" References: In Scofield, Utah, some three or four years ago, nearly three hundred miners were killed by an explosion, which resulted on account of the failure of the mine owners to comply with the law governing ventilation!
In May, 1901, a disaster occurred in Fernie, British Columbia, one hundred and thirty-seven men lost their lives and a coroner's jury brought in a verdict of culpable negligence against the company, and this "murderous" organization, the Western Federation of Miners, immediately sent a representative with $3,000 for the relief of the widows and orphans. Before the bodies were removed from the mine, Manager Tonkin reduced the wages of those who survived this blood-curdling disaster.
Within the past ten months there have been two explosions in- coal mines which eost 528 men their lives—338 in Wyoming and 190 near Pittsburg. . , ilti
In Park City, Utah, at the Daly-West mine, thirty-five miners were killed by an explosion of giant powder, that was stored in the mine by the company contrary to law and to every safeguard which common sense should suggest!
In November, 1901, twenty-two miners lost their lives by being suffocated on account of a fire which destroyed a boarding house that was connected with the tunnel of the Smuggler-Union mine, a property that was then under the management of Arthur Collins. (See Telluride Strike.) The law had not been complied with, for the doors of the tunnel were not so adjusted as to prevent the flames from entering the mine!
Fifteen men were hurled into eternity at the Independence mine, in the Cripple Creek district, through defective machinery, and an incompetent engineer who was imported by the Mine Owners' Association as a strike-breaker, and in whose ignorant keeping, for mercenary reasons, was placed the lives of all the four or five hundred men in the mine. Scarcely had the Associated Press sent out the report of the horrible calamity, when the Mine Owners' Association, together with Bell and Peabody, intimated that a crime had been committed and that the Western Federation of Miners was probably responsible. I refer you to the coroner's verdict in "The Independence Horror."
Again let us recapitulate: In Scofield, 300; Wyoming, 388; Pittsburg, 190; Park City, 35; Telluride, 22; the Independence, 15; Fernie, B. C., 137; total, 1,087! Nor is this even a beginning! Let us again recapitulate. "Accidents" charged to the Mine Owners' Association, backed by the dead and by jury's verdicts, 1,087! Charged to the Western Federation, backed by coroner or jury 0!
O, sweet charity, draw the veil!
If the members of the Western Federation of Miners are men with criminal records, why has their membership been permitted to register their names upon the rolls of the various fraternal organizations, such as the Masons, Knights of Pythias, Red Men, Woodmen, Maccabees, Yeomen, Elks, A. O. U. W., Odd Fellows, etc., and how was it that Sherman Bell, adjutant general of the state, was proud to accompany the drill team of the Knights of Pythias of the Cripple Creek district, which won the world's prize at the encampment at San Francisco, and who were nearly all members of the Western Federation of Miners? Why was it, if the members of the Federation were criminals and law-breakers, that the mine operators have frequently declared that the miners of the great gold camp were the best in the world, and why have they made such strenuous efforts to influence these "criminals" to return to work? Search the records of every penitentiary located within the jurisdiction covered by the Western Federation of Miners, and you will find no member of the organization behind the walls of a prison, and you will find no man serving a sentence on account of his affiliation with the Federation or on account of his connection with any strike. The mine owners' document charges the Federation with "murder, arson, dynamiting and riot.''
It would seem unnatural, nay, a brutal state of public conscience that these mining accidents—let us call them accidents— can go on regularly and not excite an indignation that would remedy this state of affairs.
Let a girl or a young woman be murdered under suspicious circumstances and the blood hounds of the law and the vigilantes of the press pursue the matter to the last extremity. Column after column is used, the whole matter illustrated for weeks, but let a score of workmen meet their death, through some unlawful act of their employers and after a little squib, oblivion is reached in the matter.
No man is allowed to practice law or administer medicine unless he is declared competent by a proper tribunal. This is done to protect the lives and property of the people from incompetent persons. Why should not the same rule apply to mining? If the law can protect people from quacks and pettifoggers, why should not the mine workers be protected from the ignorance of their fellows? It is true that a pick may strike a pocket of gas and cause a disaster, but nevertheless no man should be permitted to enter a mine until he had shown that he was not a constant menace to life and property because he knew nothing of the perils which lurk in a mine. They tell us these men are overpaid. That their demand for decent wage and safe conditions imperil the prosperity of the country!
Merciful God! The prosperity that demands a constant repetition of these horrors is not fit to survive an hour!