Even the Heavens Weep


A six part documentary done by the UMWA in the 1970s talking about Blair Mountain.

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm  Comments Off on Even the Heavens Weep  
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Miner’s Identification Card

Copy of a card carried by a member of the United Mine Workers of America. It is copied from an original dated late 1922. Was probably used earlier than that but I’ve no first hand evidence of this. The card is blank. Print in color on white cardstock and write in pen.

Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 10:58 am  Comments Off on Miner’s Identification Card  
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Woodrow Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. He led the United States into the First World War in 1917. Wilson’s administration did not plan for the process of demobilization at the war’s end. Though some advisers tried to engage the President’s attention to what they called “reconstruction”, his tepid support for a federal commission evaporated with the election of 1918. Republican gains in the Senate meant that his opposition would have to consent to the appointment of commission members. Instead, Wilson favored the prompt dismantling of wartime boards and regulatory agencies.

The Great War had brought labor new powers and could threaten to go on strike if these demands weren’t met since a majority of the workers had gone off to fight. In promising not to strike, the workers got higher wages and better working conditions. In the post war years this would change.

Fears of German sabotage led to the political supression of another, but more militant, union the IWW. By the fall of 1917, over 200 leaders were charged with sedition and espionage. Then in 1917, the Red Revolution began in Russia; to many industrialists, they viewed this a connection between labor and violent revolution. By 1919, these fears of Red Scare spread through the US, already fueled by fears of German spies. Several pipe bombs were sent to political leaders homes resulting in the Palmer Raids and establishing an ever greater paranoia to the US public. Wilson’s government soon started to abandoned their Progressive connections to the unions, leaving them to find for themselves.

He was still President when the shootings at Matewan broke out between Sid Hatfield and the hired thugs. With ever increasing demands from the unions for Wilson to intervene, he soon began to ignore their requests making his focus on the affairs in Europe. To many in the UMWA this was a stab in the back since they helped him win the election of 1916. However by this point in his presidency, he had lost most of the function in his body due to a stroke.

It was clear in the elections of 1920, Americans were no longer going to accept liberalism aboard or at home with the election of Harding as the 29th President.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 11:01 pm  Comments Off on Woodrow Wilson  
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Bill Blizzard

William H. “Bill” Blizzard (September 19, 1892 – 1958) was a union organizer. He was considered the overall commander of the miners’ army during the Battle of Blair Mountain, though it should be noted that many of the miners acted in their own bands verses being a solid military organization.

Bill Blizzard was the son of Timothy Blizzard and activist Sarah Rebecca ‘‘Mother’’ Blizzard. Born in the Cabin Creek district of Kanawha County, Blizzard first became involved with the United Mine Workers of America during the bloody Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912–13 (This is often considered the first major war against the coal operators in WV).

Bill Blizzard was president of District 17 of the United Mine Workers and became a new folk hero to the miners after the death of Sid Hatfield. Blizzard is most remembered for his role in the Battle of Blair Mountain, leading the miners against the forces of Logan County sheriff Don Chafin. While District 17 President Keeney and Secretary-treasurer Mooney managed events behind the scenes, Blizzard led the miners in the front lines of the fighting at Blair Mountain.

After the Battle of Blair Mountain, Blizzard was tried at Charles Town for treason and murder, defended by T. C. Townsend and Harold Houston, and found not guilty on both charges. However, the District 17 officials had lost favor with UMWA President John L. Lewis, and in 1924 Keeney and Mooney were forced to retire. Blizzard remained in the union but lost much of his influence.

Blizzard returned to prominence in 1931 when he led the UMWA’s struggle against Keeney’s West Virginia Mine Workers Union. In 1945, Blizzard was appointed president of District 17 and served for 10 years. Blizzard died of cancer July 31, 1958, reportedly having come to regret his long association with the Lewis forces inside the UMWA.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm  Comments Off on Bill Blizzard  
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