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Historical Foreward and Bibliography

 

FOREWORD

 

 

Historical Background for the 2003 Colorado Mock Trial Competition

 

(This historical foreword is not a part of the case materials.  None of the history herein may be used in the mock trials in any way.  Likewise, neither the history nor individual events and/or people included in this foreword may be considered as a material omission from the case materials)

 

 

 

Ludlow Tent Colony 

 

The 1913 exodus of 12, 232 coal miners and their families from every coal camp in the southern Colorado coal fields began what was to become one of this nation’s most important, long-lasting and violent strikes.

 

            The strike officially began on Tuesday, September 23—rainy and unseasonably cold.  Fisher Peak behind the principal town of Trinidad was dusted with snow.  Those who had not already left the company-owned coal camps piled their few belongings on pushcarts and mule wagons—the men pulling, the women and children pushing—and slogged through the mud out through the gates of the company towns.  They headed down-canyon to pre-planned and strategically placed tent colonies at the mouths of the canyons.  However, the tents the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) had promised were late in arriving.  So the families and the single men put together makeshift shelters or huddled beneath wagons.  Speaking 24 different languages, all they had in common was a determination to be treated like human beings rather than machines.  Many wanted to stay; to live the American dream.  Others simply wanted to be able to return to their homelands and families from this land of opportunity having been reasonably compensated not only for their work but for the risks they had taken.

 

            The camps, or coal towns, they left were owned and run by the companies.  Every aspect of daily life was under their control—from the school to the church to the store to the dispensing of justice.  An “open” camp had a public highway leading to it.  A few were incorporated towns, their mayors and councils usually officers or employees of the company.  But without any sham of municipal democracy, most properties were closed and unincorporated.  The “closed camp” was fenced, often with barbed wire, and the access road was company property.  The canyon approaches were policed by armed camp marshals, paid by the company but deputized by the local sheriff and therefore empowered to make arrests.

 

            A miner’s house was either a frame hovel he built himself or a four-room cement-block cottage built by the company for $700 and rented to him at $2 a room per month, bringing the company, by its own estimate, “a fair return of 6 to 8 percent.”  Each privy was a few boards and a gunnysack tacked together around a hole in the ground not two feet deep.  The water supply was always questionable.  Typhoid fever was a problem.

 

            Working conditions in the southern Colorado coal mines themselves were widely recognized as notoriously dangerous.  Miners worked on their bellies or knelt in near-total darkness, inhaling suffocating dust.  They frequently had to supply their own blasting powder, shore up their own walls and drag their own timbers to lay their own tracks to the coal rooms using supplies for which they were not paid.  They were paid only for the coal they dug.  As a result, their wages were almost entirely determined by the company weighmen, and weighmen cheating at the scales was rampant.  Inside the mines, the collapse of a wall or roof improperly timbered was disaster just waiting to happen.

 

            The miner’s wages were no different from wage scales elsewhere in the country.  But, unlike other lines of work, mining was seasonal.  Few miners worked more than 200 days a year.  In 1913, the average gross wage for the state’s coal miners was no higher than $3.50 per working day.  From this were deducted fixed charges for blacksmithing, explosive powder, and medical expenses, these levied at one dollar a month.  The take-home pay ran about $1.68.  And from that were deducted the bill at the company store for food and a few clothes and rent for his house.  Caught in a never-ending circle of debt, the miners grew desperate.  

           

            Talk of the strike had been brewing among union leaders for some time.  By the summer of 1913, the companies knew it was coming.  But strikes were costly for management as well as labor.  Despite a few feeble efforts at compromise, the companies remained adamant that never would they sign a contract with the UMWA.          Founded in 1890, the UMWA made its first appearance in the West in the 1900 strike in Gallup, New Mexico, and had led two unsuccessful strikes in 1903 and 1910 in the northern Colorado coal fields.  The 1903 strike was broken by beatings, deportations and the National Guard, and by importing Japanese, Mexican and Italian strikebreakers (known then and now as ‘scabs’) by the carload to work in mines other immigrants were trying to shut down.  The 1910 strike lingered for several years, primarily broken again by the import of scabs, one of whom was Louis Tikas, a Greek immigrant who ran a coffeehouse in Denver prior to working in the mines . 

 

The coal companies wanted no part of the UMWA.  The union was just as determined.  The line was drawn in the sand in September 1913.  Exhorted by the famed labor organizer Mary “Mother” Jones that “if you are too cowardly to fight, there are enough women to come in and beat the hell out of you," the call for the strike went out.

 

            The battlefield’s location was critical to both sides.  Set in the eighth largest coal-producing state of the time, the southern coal fields contained the largest output of high-grade coking coal used to fuel steel production for the railroad industry.  Equally significant was the strategic regional position as a source of fuel to the railroads and the industry of the West. 

 

            Strikes were not new to the West.  Contrary to the myth of the idealized West, cowboys—the mainstay of the myth—were wage laborers who worked for ranches often organized as joint-stock companies.  Many didn’t own their horses.  The freedom of the cowboy began and ended with his right to choose his own master.  We may have heard of the 1881 Gunfight at the OK Corral, but how many know of the 1883 Texas “cowboy strike” when several hundred cowboys walked off their jobs from five major Texas ranches?  Or the “cowboy strike” against ranches along Wyoming’s Sweetwater?  Or that hard-rock miners went out on strike in the mountains of Colorado as early as the 1890s?

 

            In the East, violent clashes driven by economics and the sharp division between social classes began erupting prior to 1890.  On May 3, 1886, police killed four strikers and wounded many others during a brutal confrontation between unionized workers and nonunion strikebreakers at the McCormick Reaper Works in Chicago.  Pinkerton Security guards opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steelworkers in Homestead, Pennsylvania, on July 6, 1892.  Eleven strikers and spectators and seven guards were shot to death.  Nineteen unarmed striking coal miners and mine workers were killed and 36 wounded by a sheriff’s posse for refusing to disperse near Lattimer, Pennsylvania.

 

            Known, paradoxically, as the Progressive Era, the years between 1890 and 1914 were marked by a deepening gulf between the wealthy who owned and ran the giant corporations and the largely immigrant workers.  Believing it took all the risks, privileged ownership saw no reason for Business to share the wealth.  Labor, on the other hand, maintained that without workers there would be no wealth. 

 

            No laws protected workers rights or union activity in 1913-14.  Workers in many places were denied freedoms of speech and assembly.  The conflict between Business and Labor often brought out the worst in people on both sides, but the superior resources of Business (including its monopoly on the use of institutional forces, e.g., mine ‘guards’, police and militia) gave it the upper hand.  With the result that the struggle between the haves and the have-nots was played on a distinctly uneven playing field.

 

            In addition, the southern coal mining business was heavily industrialized, dominated by a few large-scale corporate operations.  The largest of these was the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I), based in Pueblo.  Founded in 1880 by John Osgood, CF&I produced 75 percent of Colorado’s coal by 1892.  It became the largest coal mining, iron ore mining, and steel manufacturing enterprise in the West, earning Pueblo the nickname “Pittsburgh of the West.”  In 1903, CF&I was acquired by the Rockefeller corporate empire.    

 

John Cleveland Osgood

 

            CF&I and other large southern coal field operators, such as the Osgood-owned Victor-American Fuel Company, had nearly total control over the economic and political life of Las Animas and Huerfano Counties, the site of the strike, in the early 20th century.  The coal companies attempted to use language as a barrier to stifle communication between different groups of miners.  Lamont Bowers, CF&I Board Chairman and CEO, made no secret of the fact that the company purposely mixed nationalities in the shafts so as to discourage worker communication and solidarity.  Yet the massive organized walk-out and the maintenance of the strike in ethnically-mixed tent colonies for over a year provide ample evidence that the strong character of the strikers and their freedom-loving ideals were widely shared.

 

            Further, although illegal by 1913, scrip, a form of currency redeemable only at the company store, was still in use in the southern Colorado coal towns.  Company store prices could be as much as 30 percent higher than those at independent stores outside the coal towns.  Doctors, priests, schoolteachers, and law enforcement officers were all company employees.  The company selected the contents of town libraries and censored movies, books and magazines.

 

            Though miners died in Colorado coal mines at more than twice the national average, personal injury suits against the large companies were next to impossible.  Of the 42,898 coal miners killed in mine accidents in the United States between 1884 and1912, 1,708 were killed in Colorado mines.  Yet hand-picked coroners’ juries absolved the coal companies of responsibility for these deaths almost without exception.  Local judges routinely refused to permit a personal-injury suit to go before a jury.  Few attorneys found the courage to defy corporate power by taking cases out of the district and prosecuting them in Denver or Pueblo. 

 

            The men who worked in the southern Colorado mines in 1913 were largely from southern and eastern Europe, brought in originally as strike breakers in 1903 to replace an earlier wave of immigrant miners from Ireland and Wales.  Like every wave of immigrants, they were left the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs.

 

            Though the Colorado strikes in the early 1900s had failed, the union continued to organize.  In 1912 the coal companies fired 1,200 miners in the southern coal fields on suspicion of union activities.  Undaunted, the UMWA, lead by national organizers such as Frank Hayes and John Lawson, opened its biggest push yet in the southern fields in 1913.

           

            Thirty-nine, a veteran of strikes and known for his level-headed leadership, John Lawson had started work in a coal mine as a breaker boy at the age of eight in his native Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania.  The son of a member of the early Knights of Labor, Lawson became involved with the UMWA and moved West where he found his job in Colorado in the CF&I’s big Walsen Mine on the western outskirts of Walsenburg.

 

            While the strike in the north was at a bitter stalemate, Lawson and the UMWA began to organize the southern fields for a strike early in 1913.  Tikas, George Lippiatt (an Italian miner), and several other union men were sent south in August as advisors.  Following a confrontation with Baldwin-Felts detectives (employed by CF&I) on August 15 in Trinidad, Lippiatt was killed by the same detectives.  First blood had been drawn by Business.  The UMWA held a special convention in Trinidad beginning on September 13.  Delegates from the various mining camps presented a litany of deadly working conditions, poor wages, bribrary (to pit bosses), robbery at the company store and at the scales, accidents and death.  The strike call was issued immediately and coal operators were given a week to respond to the demands. 

 

The UMWA brought seven demands to the table:

 

1.  Recognition of the United Mine Workers union.

2.  A 10% increase in wages on the tonnage rates.  (Each miner was paid by the ton of coal he mines, not by the hour.)

3.  An eight-hour day.

4.  Payment for “dead work”  (Since miners were only paid for the coal they mined, work such as shoring, timbering and laying track was not paid work.)

5.  The right to elect their own check-weighmen.  (Because miners suspected, generally with good reason, that they were being cheated at the scales that weighed their coal, they wanted a miner to check the scales.)

6.  The right to trade in any store, to choose their own boarding places and to choose their own doctors.

7.  Enforcement of Colorado mining laws and abolition of the company guard system.

 

            The companies rejected all the demands.  The strike was called.  From hard lessons learned in earlier strikes, the UMWA had made careful plans.  The tent colonies were strategically located at the entrances to canyons in order to intercept strikebreakers brought in.  Every colony contained a mix of nationalities including Italians, Greeks, eastern Europeans, Mexicans, African-Americans, and Welsh.  Ludlow, with about 200 tents holding 1,200 miners and their families, was the largest of the colonies and also served as strike headquarters for Las Animas County. 

 

            The strike called, the coal operators reacted quickly.  Replacement miners were imported from across the country and abroad.  Additional Baldwin-Felts detectives—specialists in breaking coal strikes—were brought in from Bluefield, West Virginia.  More violence, including murders, occurred on both sides almost immediately.

 

            To goad the strikers into violent action, the coal companies mounted a harassment campaign, shining high-powered searchlights on the tent colonies at night or using the “Death Special,” an improvised armored car to which a Gatling-type machine-gun was affixed, to periodically spray certain colonies with machine-gun fire.  On more than one occasion people were killed.  A discussion on the Death Special was included in a Congressional investigation by the House Committee on Mines and Mining after its use in West Virginia earlier.  The first Colorado use of the Death Special was at the Forbes colony of October 17 where the entire unprotected tent colony was raked with machine gun fire.  One miner was killed, one child shot nine times in the leg, and 148 bullet holes were found in one tent alone. 

 

 

Baldwin & Felts Death Special

 

 

 

As might have been expected and just as the companies hoped,the strikers fought back.  Retaliation was delayed, however, because of a disaster at a nearby New Mexico mine to which Louis Tikas had been called to support.

 

The type of disaster the mine owners didn’t want at precisely the wrong time, Stag Canyon Number 2 in the Dawson, New Mexico, complex of the Phelps-Dodge Corporation exploded (on October 22)as a result of new machines that created too much coal dust for the fans to handle, killing 260 miners (of which 35 were Greek and 133 Italian). 

 

By late October, panic was spreading through the strike colonies as a result of the Dawson disaster as well as shootings at Forbes (and subsequent shootings at Walsenburg).  Coal company harassment of strikers was intended to provoke a violent response, which could then be used as an excuse for calling out the state militia, shifting the financial burden for breaking the strike from Business to the State.  Once that occurred, strikebreakers were escorted by the militia into the coal camps..

 

Armed strikers immediately began to intercept trains holding both deputies and strikebreakers.  Tikas, having returned to Ludlow, participated in a number of these confrontations.  One, in particular, stands out.  Strikers attacked a railroad section house and the next day pinned down the head of mine guards for CF&I and several other guards at the Tabasco mine.  The head of guards (Karl Linderfelt)  subsequently sent messages to the governor and the commanding general of the Colorado militia insisting that attacks were imminent.  Some believe that Linderfelt had been hired to be a provocateur because he was subsequently named commander of one of the two companies of militia (the one substantially manned by mine guards) which rode herd over the Ludlow tent colony.  On October 28, Governor Elias Ammons called out the National Guard. 

 

Gov. Elias Ammons          

 

            To the strikers, it was clear that the state had joined the side of the operators.  The CF&I billeted guardsmen on company property, furnished them with supplies from the company store, advanced them pay.  On a visit to the strike zone, Colorado state senator Helen Ring Robinson observed guardsmen entering CF&I offices to receive paychecks.

 

 

Gen. John Chase

 

 

           To compound the problem, the Guard leadership was anything but neutral.  John Chase, a Denver ophthalmologist and the Guard commander, had been involved in crushing the 1904 hard-rock miners’ strike in Cripple Creek.  Following the pattern he set at Cripple Creek, Chase essentially declared martial law in the southern coal field strike zone.  The unofficial and illegal martial law included mass jailing of strikers in “bullpens,” the suspension of habeas corpus (the constitutional right that a citizen in custody must be either charged or released), and the torture and beating of prisoners.

 

            As a result, the Colorado State Federation of Labor, with the okay of Governor Ammons, convened a committee in December to investigate the Guard’s conduct.  The report listing abuses ranging from robberies to harassment of strikers was more than 700 pages long.  Yet the very next month, on January 24, 1914, the cavalry led by General Chase himself charged on a peaceful demonstration by miners’ wives and children in downtown Trinidad.

 

Gen Chase (2nd from right)

Militia Charge on Demonstration

 

 

 

            A nationally publicized congressional delegation from the U.S. House Committee on Mines arrived in February to tour the strike zone.  Testimony was taken in Denver.  Less than a month later, on March 11, in what appeared to be a kick-off for a reign of terror to drive the miners back to work, the Guard tore down tents at the Forbes colony.  No strikers or family members were hurt because the entire colony had gone to Trinidad to bury stillborn twins born to the former Forbes pit boss’ wife.  The Guard had unknowlingly chosen a safe time to do their dirty work.

 

      

Forbes Tent Colony Demolished by Militia

 

Yet the Guard was not without its problems.  The cost of supporting a force of 695 enlisted men and 397 officers had nearly bankrupted the state, forcing the withdrawal of all but two of the militia companies.  The mining companies never missed a beat; in short order they replaced the militiamen with men who had been mine guards, though ostensibly under the command of Colorado National Guard officers. 

 

            Then and there, all pretense of Guard neutrality vanished.  Coupled with the hatred on both sides, the Ludlow Massacre was all but inevitable.

 

 

Barbed Wire in the Well

 

            What actually happened in the days that led up to the Massacre is known only by those now dead.  What we read in accounts, narratives, and histories has been influenced as much by the bias and prejudice of the writers as by the preconceived attitudes of the day about Capital (Business) and Labor.  The principal players have been shown as both noble and sinister.  Coal operators were heartless profiteers, mine guards thugs, militiamen trigger-happy goons, union leaders self-serving opportunists and miners hot-tempered foreigners.  What is clear is that the miners, as a group, were constantly bullied by the militiamen.  Barbed wire (some say it was the same wire the militia alleges was used as tripwires against militia horses) was stuffed down wells to disallow buckets from reaching water.  Frequent weapons searches were conducted through the tent colony by the militia.  And threats were traded liberally between both sides.  Throughout, Louis Tikas appears to have been not only a trusted translator (trusted by both the miners and several in command positions in the militia) but also a representative of the striking miners; at times mentioned as the head of the Greeks and at times as leader of the colony itself.  As a result, Tikas frequently met with the militia, occasionally away from the colony. But he was frequently the brunt of physical as well as verbal assaults by members of the militia, including (now) Lt. Karl Linderfelt, commander of Company B of the Colorado National Guard.

 

 

Lt. Karl Linderfelt

           

            Tikas met briefly with the local commander of the militia, Major Pat Hamrock, on April 19.  Hamrock, a Denver bartender by trade, had served with the 7th U.S. Cavalry when it massacred Sitting Bull’s ghost dancers at Wounded Knee in 1890.  The meeting concerned a miner the militia was searching for and Tikas was directed to “…give him up or risk a search of the colony”  Tikas took that word back to the colony, which was bound and determined not to endure another militia search that always resulted in confiscated weapons, stolen money and keepsakes and insults to the women of the colony.

 

            Easter Sunday morning, April 20, 1914, Tikas met Hamrock at the depot to continue the negotiations concerning the miner Hamrock wanted.  On his way to the meeting he noticed what many in the colony also noticed—increased activity around a machine gun nest that had been set up on Water Tank Hill about a mile south of the colony. 

 

 

Machine Gun Emplacements on Water Tank Hill

 

Rumors of an impending Guard attack had been circulating for days.  The miners who were armed (how many is unknown) took protected positions in a railway cut northeast of the hill and dug foxholes to draw machine-gun fire away from the colony.  Archaeological research at the Ludlow tent colony indicates that strikers were armed with a hodgepodge of weapons including Winchester rifles and shotguns.  As the miners left to disperse they told the women and children to seek safer ground as well.

 

The Guard then detonated two bombs, perhaps to signal troops at other positions, but most likely to alert mine guards at Delagua, Berwin, and Tabasco mines up-canyon from Ludlow.  No one knows who fired the first shot, but within minutes guardsmen and miners were exchanging gunfire.

 

It has been reported that Tikas ran back to the camp with the intention of stopping the miners from returning fire.

 

    

Frank Snyder    

 

            After only a few hours of firing, one survivor later observed, the tents were so full of holes that they looked like lace.  The colony was in pandemonium.  Some hid in a large walk-in well where they stood knee-deep in freezing water for the rest of the day.  Others huddled behind a steel railroad bridge at the northwest corner of the colony.  Many crouched in cellars (pits) they had dug under the wooden floors of their tents for the specific purpose of staying out of the line of fire.  In the early afternoon a 12-year old boy named Frank Snyder came out of one of those cellars and was shot dead.  The colony’s leaders worked all day trying to get people to a dry creek bed north of the camp and, from there, to the nearby home of a sympathetic rancher.  Many colonists headed for the protection of the Black Hills to the east of Ludlow.

 

The day wore on.  The Guard’s force grew to almost 200 men and two machine guns.  The militia was reinforced around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, apparently by mine guards as none of the reinforcements wore uniforms.

 

At dusk a train stopped in front of the Guard’s machine guns, blocking their line of fire, until the guardsmen threatened them with violence.  But by then the majority of the people left in the camp and the armed strikers had fled.  Although it is unknown how it started, by 7:00 p.m. the tent colony was in flames.  Shortly thereafter, the guardsmen started looting.

 

Tikas had spent the day in the colony and was there when the fire started.  He was captured and taken to the depot by Lt. Linderfelt and his men, who were there searching and looting.  Tikas was arrested along with James Fyler and Frank Rubino.  Early on words ensued between Tikas and Linderfelt following which Linderfelt lashed out with the butt end of his Springfield rifle and hit Tikas over the head (breaking the stock in half).  Lt. Linderfelt admitted doing so at his own court martial.  The results of an autopsy indicated not only a large and deep scalp wound to Tikas’ head but also a fractured skull.  At his court martial, Linderfelt attributed the stock breaking to a flaw in the wood which had been further weakened by gun oil seeping into the crack.

Ludlow Depot

 

Accounts differ even further after Tikas was struck by Linderfelt.  Some say Tikas pleaded to be allowed to evacuate the women and children from the burning colony, “…and then we fight…,” and turned and began to walk to the colony.  Others say Lt. Linderfelt simply ordered the militia present to, “Shoot the prisoners.”  In any event, Louis Tikas, James Fyler and Frank Rubino were killed at the depot.

 

Medical reports also vary.  Some say all three bullets which hit Tikas entered his back.  Others say only two entered the back, one entered from the front.  Also in question are the bullets themselves--two jacketed and one soft-nosed.  The militia was issued jacketed ammunition.  Only the miners, mine guards or militia who had confiscated weapons and ammunition in colony searches would have been using soft-nosed bullets.  As a result either side could have been using a mix of both jacketed and soft-nosed ammunition.

 

            During the battle, four women and ten children had taken refuge in a pit, later to be known as the “Death Pit,” beneath a tent.  The next day, except for Mary Petrucci and Alcarita Pedregone, they were found suffocated to death after the tent above them had been set afire.  Among the dead were Mary Petrucci’s three children and Alcarita Pedregone’s two children.  All together, the known fatalities totaled 25 people, including three militiamen, one uninvolved passerby, and 11 children.

 

            

 

The Death Pit

 

Louis Tikas had grown up in Crete and emigrated to Denver in 1906 at the age of twenty.  By 1910, he and a partner were operating a Greek coffeehouse there.  The records show that he had taken out papers declaring his intention to become a U.S. citizen.  In 1912, he was introduced to coal mining when he took a job as a strike-breaker in the northern Colorado coal fields.  Yes, Tikas started mining as a scab for the mine owners.  But his effort was short-lived.  After a few weeks, he walked out to join the strike with some sixty other Greeks.  He soon became one of the interpreters through whom organizers spoke to the Greek mine workers.  Before long, he was doing the talking himself. 



Ludlow Ruins

 

The UMWA sent Tikas to the southern fields to report on conditions in the mines and camps.  He remains there today, having been buried in Trinidad after the Massacre.  On October 13, 1913 Tikas became a US citizen.  Two days later 50 strikers (including Tikas) were jailed at the Las Animas County jail and two days after that the “Death Special” attacked the Forbes colony.  He was jailed for almost a month in November-December and then, in a confrontation with the militiaman who would ultimately be responsible for his death, he was pistol-whipped.  Tikas was respected by many militiamen as the leader at Ludlow and a translator. 

 

            The man who appears responsible for killing Tikas was Lieutenant Karl Linderfelt, born in Janesville, Wisconsin in 1877.  At age seventeen he dropped out of Beloit College, came to Colorado and joined an uncle mining in Cripple Creek.  He then enlisted in the Fourth U.S. Cavalry, served in B Troop throughout the Philippine Insurrection of 1890-1900.  In addition, Linderfelt joined a group of mercenaries and Mexican insurgents who followed Francisco Madero across the Rio Grand in revolt against President Diaz in 1910.  Shortly after, he returned to Colorado and became the head of mine guards for CF&I in Cripple Creek.  He played a role in the crushing of the miners’ strike in Cripple Creek in 1904 both as the chief of mine guards as well as a member of the Colorado militia.  And as stated earlier, it may have been Linderfelt’s wires to Gov. Ammons and his choice of words, “…imminent attack…,” which may have been the trigger that resulted in the activation of the Colorado National Guard.  At the time of the Ludlow Massacre, he commanded Company B, which consisted almost entirely of mine guards and was the most despised of all Guard units stationed in the southern coalfields.  Linderfelt himself was well-known for being belligerent and for his run-ins with striking miners.  It came as no surprise to many that Linderfelt was involved in the death of Louis Tikas.

 

Lt. Linderfelt (3rd from right)

 

When news of Ludlow got out, strikers at the other tent colonies went to war.  For ten days they attacked and destroyed mines, fighting pitched battles with mine guards and militia along a 40-mile front between Trinidad and Walsenburg.  The strikers, in largely uncoordinated guerilla attacks, destroyed several company towns and killed company employees.  At Forbes, gunfire left six non-union miners and three strikers dead.  Strikers occupied a position atop the hogback overlooking the McNally mine near Walsenburg and destroyed several buildings with gunfire.  A battle with state militia left ten mine guards, one striker, one non-combatant, and a militia doctor dead.

 

            Governor Ammons sent a desperate plea for federal intervention to President Wilson.  The war went on.  Not until word came that troops were on their way did the fighting stop.  Arriving on April 30, they were to restore order with the stipulation that the Guard must leave.  The commanders of the federal cavalry detachments were to report directly to the Secretary of War, Lindley Miller Garrison.  The Army confiscated guns from both sides.  Gun shops and saloons were closed.  The Army also had orders not to escort out-of-state strikebreakers into the coal camps.

 

            Order restored, the Ludlow tent colony was rebuilt.  The strike dragged on.  President Wilson tried, unsuccessfully, to broker a settlement agreement between the coal companies and strikers.  Out of money, the UMWA finally called off the strike on December 10, 1914.

 

            As to the miners, some remained on UMWA strike relief until February, 1915.  Others were said to have been rehired by CF&I.  Still others drifted out of state, while many joined the ranks of the unemployed.

 

 

Aftermath of the Strike

 

            Immediately after the strike, mass arrests of miners were made.  Of the 408 miners arrested, 332 were indicted for murder, including John Lawson, the main strike leader.  Though most never came to trial, those that did dragged on until 1920.  Of those miners tried, only John Lawson was convicted and he was convicted of murder.  Although all charges against all miners, including Lawson, were subsequently quashed, it took the Colorado Supreme Court to overturn Lawson’s conviction.  The State of Colorado court-martialed 10 officers and 12 enlisted men of the National Guard but found them innocent of wrong-doing with one exception.  Lt. Linderfelt was found guilty of “civil assault” for having struck Louis Tikas over the head with his rifle.  Central to the defense of the Guardsmen was the argument that they were forced to take action because of the “aggressive nature” of the miners. 

 

A Board of Inquiry appointed by Governor Ammons on April 25 (five days after the Massacre) to investigate the battle at Ludlow heard testimony from witnesses who insisted that strikers started the incident.  Neither strikers nor union leaders were interviewed.  Of the three officers constituting the Board, two are notable.  Major Edward Boughton was Gen. Chase’s right hand man and an attorney for the Cripple Creek mine owners’ association during the 1904 strike in Cripple Creek.  Capt. Philip Van Cise had commanded Company K at Ludlow and after the Massacre had conducted his own investigation, the results of which were immediately suppressed.  In a subsequent secret court of inquiry called by Gov. Ammons’ successor, Gov. Carlson, the court heard testimony that directly implicated Lt. Linderfelt (having given orders to “…shoot the prisoners…”) in the death of Louis Tikas and two other strikers.  Captain Van Cise, an attorney, later was elected President of the Denver Bar Association (1941-42).

 

            In its official report the Board applauded the restraint and heroism of the Guard and decried the “barbarism” and “savagery” of the strikers.  John D. Rockefeller, Jr. argued that the “defenders of law and property” should not be blamed for the fatalities.  Even so, by the end of 1915, Colorado’s militia had been thoroughly discredited.  General Chase resisted efforts to dislodge him until he was forced to resign in 1916.  And, as other strikes arose across the nation, there was new reluctance to use state militias to intervene in labor disputes.

 

John Sloan's The Masses

 

 

            The legal court proceedings might have gone nowhere, but it was a different story in the court of public opinion.  The Ludlow Massacre had electrified the nation.  Demonstrations and rallies protesting the killing of women and children erupted in cities across the country.  In Denver, 5,000 people demonstrated at the state capitol, calling for Guard officers to be tried for murder and the Governor to be tried as an accessory.

 

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John Sloan’s The Masses

xml:namespace prefix = w />Nearly every newspaper and magazine in the country covered the story, with pro- and anti-company editorials run side-by-side.  The New York Times carried so much news that the index of articles for three months amounted to six pages in small print.  Rockefeller was scathingly censured in the press and demonized in the eyes of the American public by such prominent progressives as Upton Sinclair and John Reed.  Even The Wall Street Journal, after a wait of several days following the massacre, observed that a “reign of terror” existed in southern Colorado.  Grim cartoons ran in both the mainstream press and socialist publications.  John Sloan’s cover drawing for The Masses showed a miner, a dead baby in his arms and dead wife at his feet, returning gunfire at Ludlow.  In Harper’s Weekly Rockefeller was portrayed as a vulture-like creature hovering over the shambles of Ludlow with a caption that read “Success.”  A national speaking tour made by several women survivors of Ludlow, including Mary Petrucci—still barely coherent from the loss of her children in the “Death Pit”—brought the tragedy even closer to home for many Americans.  Visits included the White House and Rockefeller’s offices at 26 Broadway in New York City.

 

            As a result of the widespread national reaction to Ludlow and the conditions in the Colorado coal camps as well as labor conditions throughout the United States, the United States Commission on Industrial Relations (CIR) launched an investigation of the strike.  Originally established by President William Taft, the Commission’s membership—representatives from business, labor, and the general public—was filled by Woodrow Wilson.  Its chairman was Frank Walsh, a labor lawyer and Democratic Party activist with a devotion to Labor and a commitment to economic reform. 

 

            The CIR concerned itself chiefly with the causes of industrial strife during the years 1910-1915.  Members traveled for two years collecting information about the events in Colorado.  In a spectacular series of public hearings, the Commission took testimony from major principals including John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  In the first few months of 1915, the hearing-room confrontations between the young industrialist and Walsh, the flamboyant champion of workers’ rights, riveted national attention.  Initially, Rockefeller’s composed and heartfelt testimony won him great media sympathy and even the admiration of labor advocate Mother Jones.  Eventually, however, Commission fact-finding and Walsh’s dogged interrogation exposed Rockefeller’s role as a leading strategist in dealing with the Colorado strike.  But in the process Walsh himself came under criticism for his “bullying” tactics.

 

            The Commission’s 1,200-page final report argued for workers’ rights to organize, for restrictions on the use of private detective agencies like Baldwin-Felts and for the need for state intervention in protecting worker rights.  It influenced President Wilson to champion bills in 1915-16 that would ban child labor and institute the eight-hour workday.  Not only did the initiatives contribute to Wilson’s successful bid of reelection, but Walsh was appointed to other duties in the Wilson administration.

 

            For his part, John Rockefeller Jr. engaged labor relations expert W. L. Mackenzie King to develop a plan for a series of reforms in the mines and company towns of southern Colorado.  Variously known as the Colorado Industrial Plan, Colorado Plan, Industrial Representation Plan or just “Rockefeller Plan,” the reforms called for a worker grievance procedure, improvements to company towns  such as construction of paved roads and recreational facilities like YMCAs, enforcement of Colorado mining laws and the election of worker representatives to serve with management on four standing committees concerned with working conditions, safety, sanitation and recreation.  The Plan also forbade discrimination against workers suspected of having been union members in the past.  However, it did not provide for recognition of the UMWA or agree to the principle of collective bargaining.

 

            The Colorado Industrial Plan effectively established a company union.  The plan was outlined to CF&I managers and worker representatives in Pueblo on October 2, 1915.  Feeling that there was little alternative, Colorado miners accepted the plan.  And it became effective January 1, 1916.  But critics such as UMWA Vice President Frank Hayes condemned the Plan as “pure paternalism” and “benevolent feudalism.”  Mother Jones grew disenchanted with Rockefeller, declaring the Plan a “fraud” and a “hypocritical and dishonest pretense.”  Yet the Colorado Plan served as the model for many other company unions that spread across the country and by 1920 covered 1.5 million workers or about 8 percent of the workforce.

 

            Some scholars see such Progressive Era reforms as little more than corporate welfare, and/or attempts to control immigrant workers by “Americanizing” them.  Certainly, the reforms were limited.  Throughout the 1920s the southern coal fields continued to be embroiled in strikes; in 1921, martial law again governed the coal fields when miners struck in protest to CF&I’s elimination of previous wage increases.

 

            Widespread union recognition in southern Colorado only came with the New Deal reforms of the 1930s.  But several years earlier Josephine Roche, a crusader for social and industrial reform and controlling owner of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, had already signed a contract with the UMWA that increased miners’ salaries, a move that attracted more skilled workers to her company.  CF&I must have seen the handwriting on the wall because in 1933 it abandoned the Colorado Plan when a majority of miners voted in favor of an independent union.  That same year the company negotiated a genuine collective bargaining agreement with the UMWA.  And with the passage of the 1935 Wagner Act, company unions were outlawed.

 

            One of the more unappreciated consequences of the Ludlow Massacre is its role in making public relations a priority for Big Business.  Shortly after the Massacre, John D. Rockefeller hired Ivy L. Lee, publicist for the Pennsylvania Railroad, to mount a nation pro-management publicity campaign intended to rehabilitate his image.  Weekly bulletins entitled “Facts Concerning the Struggle in Colorado for Industrial Freedom” were circulated to a carefully prepared mailing list of congressmen, governors, editors, journalists, college presidents, professional leaders and ministers.  Lee toured the Colorado coal fields to better understand the audience he needed to win over.  Rockefeller himself toured the coal fields in September, 1915.  Lee’s spin-doctoring, Rockefeller’s coal field visits and expanded post-Massacre philanthropic efforts transformed Rockefeller from the “most hated man in American” in 1915 to one of the most respected in 1920.  Not only did Ludlow become a significant event in labor history, but it spurred the birth of professional corporate public relations.

 

 

Ludlow, Public Memory, and Official History

 

            Some time after the end of the strike, the UMWA bought the 40 acres containing the site of the Ludlow Tent Colony.  A memorial was officially proposed for the site at the 1916 UMWA convention by union President John P. White, and the convention passed the proposal.  Later that year, several hundred coal miners met at the site of Ludlow and joined the union.  The monument was finally dedicated May 30, 1918.  The Death Pit was preserved as a concrete pit.  Regular commemorations in the form of a June memorial service sponsored by the UMWA have been held at the site since 1918.

 

            As to the folk history passed down from generation to generation, the history of Ludlow is pro-Union.  The Guard’s role in starting the shooting on April 20th is emphasized.  Over time, the number of atrocities against the colonists the day of the Massacre increases.  More casualties in the conflict are counted over time, suggesting, for example, that additional bodies were moved from Ludlow during the three days that elapsed between the Guard’s closing of the burned camp and the arrival of Red Cross relief workers.

 

            The official history on the subject of labor struggles is largely silent, not so much because powerful interests dominate the writing of history, but because it is often a case of the struggle being subconsciously ignored.  The United States today tends to think of itself as a classless society.  Except for a few people who are very rich or very poor, we are all “middle-class.”  Cultural leaders in the United States, including those who produce and represent history, come from the ranks of middle-class professionals.  Thus, events that bear a resemblance to class warfare or even draw attention to the existence of classes do not easily square with America’s ideology of classlessness.

 

            Such was certainly not the case in the 19th century.  Then, Americans commonly described their society in terms of class.  The Colorado Commissioner of Labor, for example, raised few eyebrows when he noted that “the absurdity of the old-time asininity that the interest of the laborer and the capitalist are identical is apparent to all intelligent people who understand the real cause of the conflict between the classes.”

 

            History, well-practiced, looks squarely at the past, “warts and all,” in the words of Dr. Patricia Limerick, director of the Center for the American West—keenly aware of the filtering process and the controlling biases of race, class, gender, and nationalism.  Yet the pull of the romanticized, mythic American West persists.  Trinidad celebrates its status as a rest stop on the Santa Fe Trail where wagon trains would pause to recoup before heading over Raton Pass into New Mexico.  Westward expansion and growth, not labor strife, is the dominant theme of the official history.  If coal mining is addressed, it is seen through a soft-focus lens.  Tourists who visit the town of Cokedale, a well-preserved coal company town located to the southwest of Ludlow, see the homey details of camp life along with the benevolent paternalism of the coal companies.

 

 


Conclusion

 

            The question of who “won” the strike—coal companies or organized labor—can be answered differently.  Although the UMWA did not achieve its most important goal of Union recognition, the strike can nonetheless be seen as a victory for organized labor.

 

            As to how we read the story of the Ludlow Massacre, it can simply be an incident in the history of the trade union movement and the coal industry—a fading, “angry splotch” on the past.  Were Rockefeller and his corporate managers to blame?  Tikas and his unruly Greek compatriots or Linderfelt and his hired guns?  Or is Ludlow a commentary on a larger set of questions concerning the structural relationship of government to corporate power, the relationship of both to social protest movements?    

 

            Ludlow was a watershed event in United States labor history.  The strike did not achieve its goals.  Yet it planted seeds of reform that would be realized during the New Deal in the 1930s.  The Ludlow strikers paved the way to many rights we now take for granted, such as a safe workplace and an eight-hour workday.  In the wake of Ludlow, corporate management politics began to turn from violent confrontation with strikers to more negotiated settlements.  “Public relations” became a priority for Big Business.  The Ludlow experience also showed that Labor could effectively rally varied constituencies around a common cause, something that has long been a problem for the movement.  Colorado State Senator Helen Ring Robinson in testimony before the Commission on Industrial Relations told of her visit to the Ludlow tent colony where she found a friendliness among women of all nationalities—a true melting pot at Ludlow.  In this regard, the strikers not only pioneered unionism, they challenged the rampant public racism of the day.

 

            The last of the southern field coal mines closed in 1996 when the focus shifted to the northern fields in Wyoming.  The southern coal fields are quiet.  Yet many of the everyday realities are still with us.  In spite of OSHA safety requirements, coal mining remains a dangerous occupation.  Since 1910, when the Bureau of Mines began compiling statistics, 80,400 men have died in American coal mines, and 1.5 million others have suffered disabling injuries.  Like Colorado 88 years ago, Alabama today has the highest mine accident rate of any state in the country.  On September 23, 2001 two explosions rocked the Blue Creek No. 5 underground mine in Brookwood, Alabama, the nation’s deepest at 2,140 feet beneath the surface.  Thirteen coal miners were killed in the explosions, twelve of whom had rushed into the mine to save their trapped co-workers.  The explosions resulted from the accumulation of airborne coal dust.  Government inspectors had cited the operator for 31 violations that were never followed up.

 

The conflict between Capital and Labor also lives on.  As recently as 1997, the steelworkers at Rocky Mountain Steel (formerly CF&I) went out on strike to stop forced overtime and to regain one of the basic rights for which the Ludlow strikers died: the eight-hour workday.

 

            In 1996 the United Mine Worker signs on Interstate 25 directing people to the Ludlow Memorial were replaced by official brown heritage signs.  And, in May 1997, a memorial to coal miners who died in southern Colorado mines was erected by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the middle of the Trinidad historic district.

 

So what have we learned from Ludlow?  If corporate greed was a Ludlow issue, if mine safety was a Ludlow issue, if pay commensurate with risk was a Ludlow issue, have we progressed?  Recent lessons from Enron, Qwest, and Worldcom certainly seem to reflect Business interests similar to Ludlow.  Mining interests continue to be successful in influencing Federal policies.  Recently, the number of times an operator must sample coal dust levels inside mines in order to reduce the possibility of explosions was reduced.  This, in spite of the Brookwood disaster (and numerous mine explosions before) which were caused by the buildup of airborne coal dust and directly attributed to the lack of coal dust monitoring.  The policy to reduce dust sampling has been reinforced by current lobbying to reduce inspection monies from the federal budget thereby further reducing mine safety.

 

            And then, in July 2002, we have Quecreek, Pennsylvania, where 9 coal miners were trapped when they accidentally bored into a coal shaft which had been abandoned and purposefully flooded in 1957.  The tunnel drawings being used for the bore did not indicate that just prior to abandoning the previous tunnel the miners had bored out a room of coal which was never reported on maps even though Federal law required accurate maps of the abandoned mine.

 

Afterword

 

            The events that took place in the southern Colorado coal fields are not happy ones.  Yet by acknowledging their existence and the characters involved, by analyzing them from a critical perspective, we produce more complete and better histories.  A genuine democracy deserves no less.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

This bibliography is not a part of the case materials and as such cannot be used at any time during the mock trials.  It is provided solely for the purposes of documenting the many and varied sources used in the preparation of the Historical Foreword and the case materials themselves.  There is nothing in the references listed herein (i.e., within this bibliography) that may be used as a material omission from the case materials.  Nor may any other reference be used in support of the mock trial nor identified as a material omission.  Only the information contained within the case materials may be used to support the case in trial.

 

Special thanks to the Colorado Historical Society, the State of Colorado Archives, the Denver Public Library's Western History/Genealogy Department, and the Koelbel Public Library, Arapahoe Library District, for helping locate old sources.

 

Additional thanks to Dr. Dean Saitta, Mary Roudebush and the Colorado Coal Field War Project (http://coloradodigital.coalliance.org/cfindex.html) for their individual contributions to this bibliography.  Had the committee had to read and assimilate the mass of information contained below this project would likely never have been completed.  Dean, Mary and our Colorado Historical Society volunteers committed a  major amount of volunteer time and there efforts will largely go unnoticed to the teams and coaches in the mock trial competition.  Suffice to say, “We couldn’t have done it without you!”

 

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Beshoar, Barron B., Out of the Depths: The Story of John R. Lawson, a Labor Leader.  Colorado Historical Commission and Denver Trades and Labor Assembly, Denver, 1957.

 

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Jameson, E.,     All That Glitters: Class, Conflict, and Community in Cripple Creek.  University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1998.

 

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McClurg, D., Labor Organization in the Coal Mines of Colorado, 1878-1933.  Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley,  Berkeley, 1959.

 

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McGuire, R. and P. Reckner, The Unromantic West: Labor, Capital, and Struggle.  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Salt Lake City, 1998.

 

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Mining Photographs: Unearthing the Meaning of Historical Photos,  Radical History Review 40:33-49, 1988.

 

Mondale, C., Conserving a Problematic Past.  In Conserving Culture: A New Discourse on Heritage, edited by M. Hufford.  University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1994.

 

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