100 years ago: the Ludlow massacre

United Mine Workers

ludlowThe date April 20, 1914 will forever be a day of infamy for American workers. On that day, 19 innocent men, women and children were killed in the Ludlow Massacre. The coal miners in Colorado and other western states had been trying to join the UMWA for many years. They were bitterly opposed by the coal operators, led by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company.

Upon striking, the miners and their families had been evicted from their company-owned houses and had set up a tent colony on public property. The massacre occurred in a carefully planned attack on the tent colony by Colorado militiamen, coal company guards, and thugs hired as private detectives and strike breakers. They shot and burned to death 18 striking miners and their families and one company man.  Four women and 11 small children died holding each other under burning tents. Later investigations revealed that kerosine had intentionally been poured on the tents to set them ablaze. The miners had dug foxholes in the tents so the women and children could avoid the bullets that randomly were shot through the tent colony by company thugs. The women and children were found huddled together at the bottoms of their tents.

The Baldwin Felts Detective Agency had been brought in to suppress the Colorado miners. They brought with them an armored car mounted with a machine gun—the Death Special— that roamed the area spraying bullets. The day of the massacre, the miners were celebrating Greek Easter. At 10:00 AM the militia ringed the camp and began firing into the tents upon a signal from the commander, Lt. Karl E. Lindenfelter. Not one of the perpetrators of the slaughter were ever punished, but scores of miners and their leaders were arrested and black-balled from the coal industry.

A monument erected by the UMWA stands today in Ludlow, Colorado in remembrance of the brave and innocent souls who died for freedom and human dignity.

In December, 2008, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Ludlow site as a National Historic Landmark. “This is the culmination of years of work by UMWA members, retirees and staff, as well as many hundreds of ordinary citizens who have fought to preserve the memory of this brutal attack on workers and their families,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said.

“The tragic lessons from Ludlow still echo throughout our nation, and they must never be forgotten by Americans who truly care about workplace fairness and equality,” Roberts said. “With this designation, the story of what happened at Ludlow will remain part of our nation’s history. That is as it should be.”

4 Responses

  1. If it were up to radical republicans Ludlow Massacre would be a weekly event. They are hell bent on destroying the union movement. I belonged to government union for 20 years. It was a weak union and movement between management and the union was like a highway. One week a union steward was sitting in the union cubby hole and the next he was wearing a management badge. I made the mistake as a shop steward to disagree with our president’s politics. I was fired from my union job by consent of all my “friends”. I was in the APWU and that is a sorry union. I believe in unionism but I believe there was a passenger pigeon as well.

  2. […] Upon striking, the miners and their families had been evicted from their company-owned houses and had set up a tent colony on public property. The massacre occurred in a carefully planned attack on the tent colony by Colorado militiamen, coal company guards, and thugs hired as private detectives and strike breakers. They shot and burned to death 18 striking miners and their families and one company man.  Four women and 11 small children died holding each other under burning tents. Later investigations revealed that kerosine had intentionally been poured on the tents to set them ablaze. The miners had dug foxholes in the tents so the women and children could avoid the bullets that randomly were shot through the tent colony by company thugs. The women and children were found huddled together at the bottoms of their tents. Read the source story here. […]

  3. Read about Blair Mountain when federal troops were called out to make war on striking miners with machineguns and even bombing from the air. 1919 was a year of repression of “reds” as were the 1950’s. Witch hunts for subversives are as American as apple pie. We have just gone through 13 years of the hunt for “terrorists” in our midst. Anyone who falls into FBI trap and has IQ of 70 makes a good victim.
    American Labor did not cover themselves in glory during the 1950’s when they expelled reds from their unions. The only good red is a red that’s dead.

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