Mother Jones

Which Side Are You On

Woody Guthrie Ludlow Massacre

Woody Guthrie -This Land Is Your Land

"I went down to the southern coal fields of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company.

I went through the various coal camps, eating in the homes of the miners, staying all night with their families.

I found the conditions under which they lived deplorable.

They were in practical slavery to the company, who owned their houses, owned all the land, so that if a miner did own a house he must vacate whenever it pleased the land owners.

They were paid in scrip instead of money so that they could not go away if dissatisfied.

They must buy at company stores and at company prices.

The coal they mined was weighed by an agent of the company and the miners could not have a check weighman to see that full credit was given them.

The schools, the churches, the roads belonged to the company.

I felt, after listening to their stories, after witnessing their long patience that the time was ripe for revolt against such brutal conditions.

Much of the fighting took place around Cripple Creek.

The miners were evicted from their company owned houses.

They went out on the bleak mountain sides, lived in tents through a terrible winter with the temperature below zero, with eighteen inches of snow on the ground.

They tied their feet in gunny sacks and lived lean and lank and hungry as timber wolves.

All civil law had broken down in the Cripple Creek strike.

The militia under Colonel Verdeckberg said, "We are under orders only from God and Governor Peabody."

Judge Advocate McClelland when accused of violating the constitution said, "To hell with the constitution!"

There was a complete breakdown of all civil law.

Habeas corpus proceedings were suspended.

Free speech and assembly were forbidden.

People spoke in whispers as in the days of the inquisition.

Soldiers committed outrages.

Strikers were arrested for vagrancy and worked in chain gangs on the street under brutal soldiers.

Men, women and tiny children were packed in the Bullpen at Cripple Creek.

Miners were shot dead as they slept.

They were ridden from the country, their families knowing not where they had gone, or whether they lived.

When the strike started in Cripple Creek, the civil law was operating, but the governor, a banker, and in complete sympathy with the Rockefeller interests, sent the militia.

They threw the officers out of office.

Sheriff Robinson had a rope thrown at his feet and told that if he did not resign, the rope would be about his neck.

Shop keepers were forbidden to sell to miners.

Priests and ministers were intimidated, fearing to give them consolation.

The miners opened their own stores to feed the women and children.

The soldiers and hoodlums broke into the stores, looted them, broke open the safes, destroyed the scales, ripped open the sacks of flour and sugar, dumped them on the floor and poured kerosene oil over everything.

The beef and meat was poisoned by the militia.

Goods were stolen.

The miners were without redress, for the militia was immune.

Men beaten and left for dead in the road.

Organizers were thrown into jail and held without trial for months.

They were deported.

They were landed in the desert, thirty miles from food or water.

Hundreds of others were deported, taken away without being allowed to communicate with wives and children.

On the 19th of April, 1914, machine guns, used on the strikers in the Paint Creek strike, were placed in position above the tent colony of Ludlow.

Major Pat Hamrock and Lieutenant K. E. Linderfelt were in charge of the militia, the majority of whom were, company gun-men sworn in as soldiers.

Early in the morning soldiers approached the colony with a demand from headquarters that Louis Tikas, leader of the Greeks, surrender two Italians.

Tikas demanded a warrant for their arrest.

They had none.

Tikas refused to surrender them.

The soldiers returned to quarters.

A signal bomb was fired. Then another.

Immediately the machine guns began spraying the flimsy tent colony, the only home the wretched families of the miners had, riddling it with bullets.

Like iron rain, bullets' upon men, women and children.

The women and children fled to the hills.

Others tarried.

The men defended their home with their guns.

All day long the firing continued.

Men fell dead, their faces to the ground.

Women dropped.

The little Snyder boy was shot through the head, trying to save his kitten.

A child carrying water to his dying mother was killed.

By five o'clock in the afternoon, the miners had no more food, nor water, nor ammunition.

They had to retreat with their wives and little ones into the hills.

Louis Tikas was riddled with shots while he tried to lead women and children to safety.

They perished with him.

Night came.

A raw wind blew down the canyons where men, women and children shivered and wept.

Then a blaze lighted the sky.

The soldiers, drunk with blood and with the liquor they had looted from the saloon, set fire to the tents of Ludlow with oil-soaked torches.

The tents, all the poor furnishings, the clothes and bedding of the miners' families burned.

Coils of barbed wire were stuffed into the well, the miners' only water supply.

After it was over, the wretched people crept back to bury their dead.

In a dugout under a burned tent, the charred bodies of eleven little children and two women were found-unrecognizable.

Everything lay in ruins.

The wires of bed springs writhed on the ground as if they, too, had tried to flee the horror.

Oil and fire and guns had robbed men and women and children of their homes and slaughtered tiny babies and defenseless women.

Done by order of Lieutenant Linderfelt, a savage, brutal executor of the will of the Colorado Fuel and Iron company.

Rockefeller got busy.

Writers were hired to write pamphlets which were sent for broadcast to every editor in the country, bulletins.

In these leaflets, it was shown how perfectly happy was the life of the miner until the agitators came; how joyous he was with the company's saloon, the company's pig-stys for homes, the company's teachers and preachers and coroners.

How the miners hated the state law of an eight-hour working day, begging to be allowed to work ten, twelve.

How they hated the state law that they should have their own check weighman to see that they were not cheated at the tipple.

And all the while the mothers of the children who died in Ludlow were mourning their dead.
And so I could go on and on." - Mary "Mother" Jones

Ivy Ledbetter Lee is retained by John D. Rockefeller Jr to represent his family and Standard Oil, ("to burnish the family image"), after the coal mining rebellion in Colorado known as the "Ludlow Massacre".

Ivy Ledbetter Lee was the first to use modern public relations propaganda for corporate purposes.

The term "public relations" first appeared in the 1897 Yearbook of Railway Literature.

April 20, 1914

A number of Company B troopers- as instructed by superiors- locate themselves atop Water Tank Hill, just south of Ludlow.

Many miners spotted the militiamen, and being quite concerned, armed themselves and moved to key points where they could closely watch activities.

Suddenly the sound of riffle fire echoed through the nearby hills.

Neither the militia nor the miners knew who fired these shots.

Despite this, an exchange of gunfire began, as both confused miners and militiamen believed they were coming under attack.

The militia were outnumbered but had a choice location and a machine gun.

The spray from the gun drove armed strikers back toward the tents, and provided excellent coverage for guardsmen advancing toward the tents.

Company A reinforcements arrived with another machine gun offer support.

The miners now faced two automatic weapons and about 150 guardsmen.

Machine gun and rifle fire forced women and children to take refuge in storage cellars beneath the tents.

The bodies of two women and 11 children - victims of asphyxiation - were found huddled within a cellar.

Five strikers, 2 other youngsters, and at least 4 men associated with the militia joined them in death.

The Ludlow Massacre spawned the Colorado Coalfield War.

During the ten days of fighting at least fifty civilians lost their lives, including twenty-one killed at Ludlow.

From 700 to 1,000 armed strikers gained control of large areas of territory, and waged open warfare against mine guards, militia and mine employees.

Ivy Ledbetter Lee was retained by John D. Rockefeller Jr to represent Standard Oil ("to burnish the family image"), after the coal mining rebellion.

Upton Sinclair dubbed him "Poison Ivy" after Lee tried to send bulletins saying those that died were victims of an overturned stove, when in fact they were shot by the Colorado National Guard.

Ivy Ledbetter Lee was an inaugural member of the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S. when it was established in New York City in 1921.

Shortly before his death in 1934, Congress was investigating his work in Nazi Germany on behalf of the company IG Farben.

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