The Anarchist Encyclopedia:
"They got you fightin' white against colored, native against foreign...when you know there ain't but two sides in the world - them that work & them that don't.
That's all you got to know about the enemy."
US: The Battle of Matewan.
May 19, 1920Despite the efforts by Matewan, West Virginia police chief (& former miner) Sid Hatfield & Mayor Testerman to protect miners from interference in their union drive, Baldwin-Felts detectives hired by the local mining company & 13 company managers arrive to evict miners & their families from the Stone Mountain Mine camp.
A gun battle ensues, leaving 7 detectives, Mayor Testerman, & 2 miners dead.
Baldwin-Felts detectives assassinated Sid Hatfield 15 months later, sparking off an armed rebellion of 10,000 West Virginia coal miners at "The Battle of Blair Mountain," dubbed "the largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War" by The Battle of Matewan Home Page.
During 1920 & 1921 Army troops were used to intervene against striking mineworkers in West Virginia.
God, if You had but the moon
Stuck in Your cap for a lamp,
Even You'd tire of it soon,
Down in the dark and the damp.
Nothing but blackness above
And nothing that moves but the cars. . . .
God, if You wish for our love,
Fling us a handful of stars.
— Louis Untermeyer
excerpt from Caliban in the Coal Mines, from Challenge, 1914
(This poem is based on Few Clothes Johnson, the character played by James Earle Jones in Sayles' film Matewan.)
- On West Virginia during this period, see also the Daily Bleed's Labor Sources page, & also the Labor Timeline there.
- Also worthy of mention is novelist (The Anarchist Convention; Union Dues) / filmmaker John Sayles' excellent & sympathetic film, Matewan.
page last updated May 2003
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Questions, suggestions, additions, corrections to David Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Anarchist Encyclopedia is freely sponsored & produced by Recollection Used Books