+
upworthy
Education

Have you ever heard of the Ludlow Massacre? You might be shocked when you see what happened.

It's important to know your history.

ludlow massacre, colorado history, woody guthrie

Strikers, Ludlow Tent Colony, 1914.

The early 1900s were a time of great social upheaval in our country. During the years leading up to the Ludlow Massacre, miners all around the country looking to make a better life for themselves and their families set up picket lines, organized massive parades and rallies, and even took up arms. Some died.

It's always worth considering why history like this was never taught in school before. Could it be that the powers that be would rather keep this kind of thing under wraps?


Here is Woody Guthrie's tribute to the good people who fought in the battles of Ludlow to help make a better tomorrow for everyone — you can just start the video and then start reading, if you wish:

Coal Country, Colorado

100 years ago, the Rocky Mountains were the source of a vast supply of coal. At its peak, it employed 16,000 people and accounted for 10% of all employed workers in the state of Colorado. It was dangerous work; in just 1913 alone, the mines claimed the lives of over 100 people. There were laws in place that were supposed to protect workers, but largely, management ignored those, which led to Colorado having double the on-the-job fatality rate of any other mining state.

It was a time of company towns, when all real estate, housing, doctors, and grocery stores were owned by the coal companies themselves, which led to the suppression of dissent as well as overinflated prices and an extreme dependence on the coal companies for everything that made life livable. In some of these, workers couldn't even leave town, and armed guards made sure they didn't. Also, if any miner or his family began to air grievances, they might find themselves evicted and run out of town.

strike, economy, money works, Union parade

Strikers, Ludlow Tent Colony, 1914.

Union Parade, Trinidad, Colorado, 1913. Images via Colorado Coal Field War Project/University of Denver Library.

The Union

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) had been organizing for many years in the area, and this particular company, Colorado Fuel and Iron, was one of the biggest in the West — and was owned by the Rockefeller family, notoriously anti-union.

Put all this together, and it was a powder keg.

The Ludlow colony, 1914 massacre, Colorado Coal Field War

The Ludlow Colony before the massacre, 1914.

Photo from Youtube video.

tent colony, mining, miners

Strikers, Ludlow Tent Colony, 1914.

Photo from Youtube video.

families, National Guard, unions

Strikers, Ludlow Tent Colony, 1914.

Photo from Youtube video.

Strike!

When a strike was called in 1913, the coal company evicted all the miners from their company homes, and they moved to tent villages on leased land set up by the UMWA. Company-hired guards (aka “goons") and members of the Colorado National Guard would drive by the tent villages and randomly shoot into the tents, leading the strikers to dig holes under their tents and the wooden beams that supported them.

Why did the union call for a strike? The workers wanted:

  1. (equivalent to a 10% wage increase),
  2. Enforcement of the eight-hour work day,
  3. Payment for "dead work" that usually wasn't compensated, such as laying coal car tracks,
  4. The job known as “Weight-checkmen" to be elected by workers. This was to keep company weightmen honest so the workers got paid for their true work,
  5. The right to use any store rather than just the company store, and choose their own houses and doctors,
  6. Strict enforcement of Colorado's laws, especially mine safety laws.
calvary, Trinidad, striking women

Cavalry charge on striker women in nearby Trinidad.

Photo from Youtube video.

UMWA, Rocky Mountains, President Woodrow Wilson

Militia and private detectives or mine guards, Ludlow.

Photo from Youtube video.

The Powder Keg Explodes

The attacks from the goons continued, as did the battles between scabs (strikebreakers) and the miners. It culminated in an attack on April 20, 1914, by company goons and Colorado National Guard soldiers who kidnapped and later killed the main camp leader and some of his fellow miners, and then set the tents in the main camp ablaze with kerosene. As they were engulfed, people inside the tents tried to flee the inferno; many were shot down as they tried to escape. Some also died in the dugouts below the burning tents. In the first photograph below, two women and 11 children died in the fire directly above them. A day that started off with Orthodox Easter celebrations for the families became known as the Ludlow Massacre.

Woody Guthrie, child labor laws, worker rights

The "Death Pit."

Photo from Youtube video.

colony, coal country, University of Denver

Rear view of ruins of tent colony.

Photo from Youtube video.

funeral procession, Louis Tikas, Greek strikers

Funeral procession for Louis Tikas, leader of Greek strikers.

Photo from Youtube video.

The 10-Day War

The miners, fresh off the murders of their friends and family members, tried to get President Woodrow Wilson to put a stop to the madness, but he deferred to the governor, who was pretty much in the pocket of the mine companies.

So the miners and those at other tent colonies quickly armed themselves, knowing that many other confrontations were coming. And they went to the mines that were being operated by scabs and forced many of them to close, sometimes setting fire to the buildings. After 10 days of pitched battle and at least 50 dead, the president finally sent in the National Guard, which promptly disarmed both sides.

Union Victory

While close to 200 people died over the course of about 18 months before and after the battles at Ludlow and the union ultimately lost the election, the Ludlow Massacre brought a congressional investigation that led to the beginnings of child-labor laws and an eight-hour workday, among other things.

But it also brought national attention to the plight of these miners and their families, and it showed the resilience and strength that union people could display when they remained united, even in the face of extreme corporate and government violence. Historian Howard Zinn called it "the culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history." And the primary mine owner, John D. Rockefeller Jr., received a lot of negative attention and blame for what happened here.

monuments, April 20, 1914, coal miners, revolution

The UMWA is still a solid union today, and there is a monument in Colorado to those who died in the Ludlow Massacre.

Image by Mark Walker/Wikimedia Commons.

This article was written by Brandon Weber and originally appeared on 08.14.14


True

After over a thousand years of peaceful relations, European semi-superpowers Sweden and Switzerland may finally address a lingering issue between the two nations. But the problem isn’t either country’s fault. The point is that the rest of the world can’t tell them apart. They simply don’t know their kroppkakor (Swedish potato dumpling) from their birchermüesli (a Swiss breakfast dish).

This confusion on the European continent has played out in countless ways.

Swedish people who move to the United States often complain of being introduced as Swiss. The New York Stock Exchange has fallen victim to the confusion, and a French hockey team once greeted their Swiss opponents, SC Bern, by playing the Swedish National Anthem and raising the Swedish flag.

Skämtar du med mig? (“Are you kidding me?” in Swedish)

Keep ReadingShow less
All images by Rebecca Cohen, used with permission.

Here’s a thought.

Self proclaimed feminist killjoy Rebecca Cohen is a cartoonist based in Berkeley, California.

Here’s what she has to say about her role as an artist taken from her Patreon page.

Keep ReadingShow less

The phrase that will shut down your passive-agressive coworker.

Dealing with passive-aggressive people, whether at work or in family life, can be very frustrating. It's like trying to solve a puzzle without all the pieces. Their indirect communication and subtle digs force you to guess what they mean, turning simple conversations into a minefield.

It's draining because you're always on edge, trying to decode hidden messages or intentions, which can create a tense atmosphere. It's tough to have to go through all the extra work when you're just trying to get along and keep things smooth.

It also means that passive-aggressive people can take shots at you that you can’t defend because they hide behind the plausible deniability that they were just being helpful.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Australia is banning entry to anyone found guilty of domestic violence anywhere in the world

"Australia has no tolerance for perpetrators of violence against women and children." 👏👏👏


Australia is sending a strong message to domestic abusers worldwide: You're not welcome here.

Australia has recently broadened a migration law to bar any person who has been convicted of domestic violence anywhere in the world from getting a visa to enter the country. American R&B singer Chris Brown and boxing star Floyd Mayweather had been banned from the country in the past, following their domestic violence convictions. Now the ban applies to all foreign visitors or residents who have been found guilty of violence against women or children.

Even convicted domestic abusers who already have visas and are living in Australia can be kicked out under the new rule. The government is using the rule, which took effect on February 28, 2019 to send a message to domestic violence perpetrators.

Keep ReadingShow less

The Preussen Munster square off against the Würzburger Kickers

As a soccer match between German teams Preussen Munster and Würzburger Kickers went into its final minutes, a defender from the Kickers, 23-year-old Leroy Kwadwo, stopped to point out a problem in the stands.

A Munster fan was making monkey noises at Kwadwo, a black player of Ghanaian descent. It was a clearly racist heckling—an issue that has publicly plagued the international sport in various venues, even as recently as last week. But this time, the response from the crowd far outshined the racist in the stands.

Keep ReadingShow less