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The Battle of Blair Mountain - Research Paper Example

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This research paper describes the Battle of Blair Mountain, that was the largest labor insurrection in American history. The researcher provides the understanding of this incident, which is widely acknowledged to be “the most brutal confrontation in the history of the American labor movement1”…
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The Battle of Blair Mountain
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Download file to see previous pages Most importantly, the company provided houses from which the family could be forcibly evicted in the event of a miner joining unions, being killed or injured. Union activity was monitored by Baldwin-Felts detectives and other coal company agents4. The Mine Wars began in 1912, with the Paint Creek – Cabin Creek strike, demanding company recognition of the UMWA. Further attempts at unionization led to a spate of violence and armed conflict between the miners on one side and state police, mine guards and strikebreakers on the other. The next flashpoint was the Battle of the Tug in Mingo County in May 1920. This exacerbated into a gunfight on May 19 in Matewan between Baldwin-Felts agents on an eviction drive and the town officials led by the mayor and Police Chief Sid Hatfield. The mayor, three townspeople and six detectives were killed. Unionization and company opposition grew increasingly violent, with both sides building up arsenals and engaging in guerilla-like warfare. In retaliation for Matewan, the agency killed Sid Hatfield and his deputy on 1 August, 1920. Hatfield’s murder galvanized the miners and was the direct spark for the Battle of Blair Mountain5. The outraged miners began to gather near Charleston on 7 August. Bill Blizzard, Frank Keeney and Fred Mooney of the District 17 UMWA organized about 600 armed miners for a march though three counties, in order to demonstrate the solidarity of the mine workers and to drive out the company gunmen who continued to harass them. Keeney recruited additional miners over the following two weeks for a 65-mile march to Logan County, the coal company stronghold. At the same time, the Logan Coal Operators’ Association paid Logan County Sheriff Don...
This research paper discusses the events of the Battle of Blair Mountain, which was the largest labor insurrection in American history. An understanding of this incident, which is widely acknowledged to be “the most brutal confrontation in the history of the American labor movement ”, requires the study of the background of the coal mining industry in America. The burgeoning iron, steel and railroad industries required coal for their development and coal mining was central to America’s industrial growth. The coal mining industry was highly labor intensive, had hazardous work conditions and yielded relatively low returns on investment. In the race to increase production and profitability, coal companies disregarded safety concerns, resulting in frequent fatal accidents in mines. Growing activism saw the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) gain a footing in the mines of Pennsylvania and other states by the end of the nineteenth century. The early twentieth century witnessed the attempts of the coal miners of southern West Virginia to unionize in the face of violent opposition. This resulted in The Mine Wars (1912-1922), which culminated in the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. The causes of the battle, the confrontation and the aftermath demonstrate that Blair Mountain is a milestone in the American labor movement. Blair Mountain is a symbol of “freedom of speech and assembly, freedom from the industrial feudalism of company towns, and freedom from the terrorism inflicted by the operators hired gunmen ”. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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