Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1921, Sid Hatfield, police chief of Matewan, West Virginia, a longtime supporter of the United Mine Workers union, was murdered by company goons, sparking the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest labor uprising in U.S. history and one of the largest, best-organized, and most well-armed uprisings since the American Civil War.
For five days in late August and early September, in Logan County, West Virginia, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, who were backed by coal mine operators during an attempt by the miners to unionize the coalfields in southwestern West Virginia. The battle ended after the United States Army intervened by presidential order.
While in the short term the battle was an overwhelming victory for coal mine bosses, in the long-term, it raised awareness of the appalling conditions faced by miners in the dangerous West Virginia coalfields, and helped lead to a much larger and stronger organized labor movement in many other industries and labor union affiliations and umbrella organizations.
Today’s labor quote is by Mother Jones, speaking to the miners the year before the Battle of Blair Mountain. Mother Jones, who said:
“It is freedom or death, and your children will be free. We are not going to leave a slave class to the coming generation, and I want to say to you the next generation will not charge us for what we have done; they will charge and condemn us for what we have left undone.”
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