DEVOTED TO THE INTERESTS AND VOICING THE DEMANDS OF THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT

Vol. XX OCTOBER, 1933

Ne. 10

RUSSIANIZED WEST VIRGINA

CORPORATE PERVERSION OF AMERICAN CONCEPTS OF LIBERTY AND HUMAN JUSTICE—ORGANIZED LABOR TO THE RESCUE

By SAMUEL GOMPERS

HE long, hard struggle of the miners of West Virginia still goes on. ‘That T statement carries with it little significance to many, but to those who know conditions among those mountaineer miners and who are gifted with some imaginative insight, it brings up a story of a most desolate life and of great social injustice; it leads to dreary little mountain cabins, hardships, and monotonous grinding toil without many of the necessities or the comforts of life and with all the degradation attached to an economic despotism under which the workers were compelled to spend their meager wages at the com- panies’ stores, powerless to influence conditions of work, unable to free them- selves from enslaving debts. These men had sunk almost into the depths of despair, down even to peonage and almost to slavery.

For years agitation to organize these miners has been carried on under great difficulties. Officials of the United Mine Workers and representative labor men have gone among them. But the seeds of agitation and education did not fall upon rocky soil, though long dormant yet they lived to bear fruit. Last year the miners were stirred to desperation by their wrongs. In the begin- ning the uprising was perhaps not a concerted action, but as scattered groups rebelled against existing conditions, the movement became unified and insist- ent. The men in grim determination united in an effort that entailed suffering and privations.

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AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

The strike recently settled was a continuation of the miners’ movement begun in 1897, when July 4 of that year was selected as the day to assert their rights as American citizens. The story of that whole struggle reveals how King Coal and his barons have ruled in and by means of the institutions of society; how they own absolutely and control agents and agencies apparently of the people and for the people, and how the coal operators and the Government have been one and the same.

The courts in West Virginia have yielded to none, indeed, have lead all in their zeal in fashioning injunction weapons which unjustly aided the coal companies by depriving workmen of the rights of citizenship guaranteed by constitutions and lav:s. Many will even deem the story of King Coal’s des- potism incredible. The early attacks were on free speech—an essential for liberty. When Judge Mason, the tool of the mine operators, by judicial order denied the miners the right of holding public meetings and of free speech, Governor Atkinson neutralized the injunction by a public letter announcing he would not sanction such invasion of constitutional rights. Then Judge Jackson, from the Federal bench, forbade any one from speaking to or per- suading the miners to quit the employment of the company; he enjoined either those striking, or the union organizers from being “‘on or near the roads leading to or from the companies’ property,’ notwithstanding their lawful mission. This judicial usurpation of authority which denied the right of free locomotion, free speech, presentation of arguments or advice to the end that the miners might unite in attempts to secure better wages and conditions of work, was such a flagrant offense against the fundamental principles of per- sonal freedom and constitutional government that duty forbade it should pass unchallenged. The President of the United Mine Workers, the President of the American Federation of Labor, and some others went to West Virginia, went into the forbidden public places, and in forbidden peaceable public assemblies exercised the forbidden right of free speech. Despite injunctions which were served upon us before the meetings began, and despite the faithful liegemen of the corporation and its court, we exercised our rights and we urged the miners to make common cause with their fellow-workers, to lay down their tools and join the movement for justice. In all good conscience we could choose no other course.

Nor did the course of the judiciary rouse indignation and apprehension among the workers alone. Two cartoons published at that date by the Wash- ington 7imes reflect the general feeling. One, entitled ‘‘A West Virginia Bill of Rights,”’ shows Governor Atkinson holding up a placard on which were the words. ‘For Free Speech and Peaceable Assemblage,’’ and Uncle Sam approv- ingly extending his hand and saying, “Shake.’’ The other represents one of the forbidden West Virginia roads in which stands a judge with a megaphone labeled ‘‘Injunction."’ Governor Atkinson is advancing toward him, carrying his placard ‘‘For Free Speech and Peaceable Assemblage.” PThe resident of the American Federation of Labor, bearing suitcase and cane, also advances toward the injunction-armed judge. Underneath is the query, ‘““Now what will Nothing did happen.

happen?”

AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

When this judicial invasion was placed clearly before the public by the press and by Labor’s course, the courts receded from their position and de- clared the injunctions had reference only to trespass upon the companies’ property. Yet the grasp of King Coal did not lose its corrupting control on governmental institutions of the State. These the mine operators still con- trolled, often by the right of ownership. Injunction abuses were renewed. Frequently, executive and judiciary combined to deny the men their legal and political rights, that the mine operators might the more easily prevent action for economic betterment and economic rights.

Five years later the indefatigable Judge Jackson issued another injunc- tion which forbade the miners from assembling in or near the paths and ap- proaches upon or near the property of King Coal, leading to or from the mines to the homes and residences of those still working, or from marching near or in sight of the mines or the residences of the miners. This judicial com- mand to keep out the range of vision—no allowances for variation were speci- fied—of the employes of King Coal was frequently repeated. These injunc- tions were preparatory measures for the culmination of judicial arrogance— the injunction of Justice Dayton which baldly ordered:

“It is therefore adjudged, ordered, and decreed by the court that said defendants, and each and every of them, their committees, agents, servants, confederates, be restrained and strictly enjoined from interfering and from combining, conspiring, or attempting to interfere with the employes of the plaintiff for the purpose of unionizing plaintiff's mine, without plain- tiff’s consent, by representing or causing to be represented in express or implied terms, to any of plaintiff's employes, or to any person who might become an employe of plaintiff, that such person wi!! suffer or is likely to suffer some loss or trouble in continuing in or entering the employment of plaintiff, assigning, representing, or causing to be represented in express or implied terms to such employe or employes that such loss or trouble will or may come by reason of plaintiff not recognizing the United Mine Workers of America, or because plain- tiff runs a non-union mine.”’

Judge Dayton here bluntly and brutally reveals the real object of all the injunctions—prevention of organization among the workers so that they may not be able to use their collective power to secure better conditions lest they disturb the gradgrind employers’ absolute domination.

Meanwhile, a direct effort was made to destroy the miners’ organization of the Kanawha Valley—the only one within the State—by suborning one of its officials. One supposedly influential miner was made Immigration Commis- sioner for the State of West Virginia—a position that had previously been filled but once after its creation in 1873. In performing the duties of this office the com- missioner might remain in any seaport town or immigrant station to induce immi- grants admitted by the Federal authorities to go to West Virginia districts where workmen were needed. However, in violation of the immigration law, this commissioner in 1907 went to England to induce English miners to come to the West Virginia districts. The then Governor of the State of West Virginia is the authority for the statement that the expenses of the trip were not paid by State appropriation, but by the coal operators of the non-union districts. This fact indicates a survival of curious vestiges of conscience among the serv- ers of King Coal—public agents officially performing private duties should be

828 AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

paid out of what at least is called private funds. In fact, the law provides no salary in connection with this office.

The Governor of the State invited a number of operators and a few of the miners to confer with him at the Capital. This conference, ostensibly to con- sider plans for inducing desirable workmen to locate in the State, was in reality to raise funds to induce and assist immigrants to go to West Virginia. Not- withstanding these efforts to secure more workmen, particularly miners, during the year prior when coal production was greater than in any previous year, the miners were offered employment only during 237 days. The evident purpose of the plan was to prevent organization by influx of new workers, to make the men more subservient because of an oversupply of workmen, and thereby to get them more completely under the employers’ domination.

Nor did King Coal and his barons consider human life in comparison with feudal dues. Terrible mining disasters have been all too frequent—men have been torn and maimed and killed. As we have published in former num- bers of this magazine, the power of the mine operators silenced the press and throttled all sources of news. Only an occasional report managed to elude these custodians and find its way to the people outside. The correspondent of the Cincinnati Post who ventured to investigate personally the terrible mine accident in the Jed Coal Company mine at Welch, in 1912, and dared to write the story and causes of the disaster, was forced to leave the vicinity on the next train.

Accident after accident has borne eloquent testimony of the utter disre- gard of human life in the coal mines of West Virginia. Yet these mine opera- tors have not only victimized American workmen but have had the hardihood to send an agent abroad to allure workmen to immigrate to this country, to live on their feudal domains and work or die for the overlords.

It is most timely that we reprint in this connection the circulars distrib- uted among the immigrants at Ellis Island and published in the May, 1912, AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST:

WANTED.—1,500 to 2,000 coal miners and coal miners’ helpers, either experienced miners with their families, or green laborers to learn coal mining under competent instruc- tors. Average earnings of experienced miners $3 to $6 per day. Average earnings of helpers from $2 to $3.50 per day. Common day laborers from $1.50 to $1.75 per day. No shaft mines; all drift mines located in the Monongahela Valley between Fairmont and Clarksburg, West Virginia, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and interurban traction lines. Height of coal seam, eight feet.

THE CONSOLIDATED CoaL Company

STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, OFFICES OF THE COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION MONTGOMERY, WEsT VirRGINIA, Feb. 2/, 19/2

Conditions so far as general safety is concerned are vouched for by the United States Bureau of Mines and the Chief of the Department of Mines of West Virginia.

I have investigated the conditions outlined in the above statement and find them true as claimed. I find that there are no labor troubles or difficulties in the Fairmont fields and that the statement of average earnings is correct.

I think the above offer of employment is a good opportunity for men with families seeking employment. The dwelling-houses are comfortable, and-rent charges I find reason-

able. 2 ree ; JoHN NUGENT, State Commissioner of Immigration, State of West Virginia

AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST 829

Note the official confirmation of the ‘‘general safety” of the mines despite the fact that the lives of workmen were snuffed out in batches of eighty, eighty- one, and eighty-three! Note the pride in the announcement “there are no labor troubles or difficulties in the Fairmont fields.” A reliable reporter quoted the operators as saying the workmen “‘were quiet, well-behaved, docile, and never thought of unions and never asked for more wages,”’ and the reporter added, ‘“‘they were thoroughly subdued.” Truly they were subdued, they were not even allowed to own or rent space upon which to possess a free thought.

These are but a few of the evidences of the powerful and subtle conspiracy between organized capital and the governmental agents of the State, indica- tions of the existence of the invisible government that steals from the workers the liberty they think and are told they have. But there were and are brave men in West Virginia, miners who have kept alive the spirit of organization and of resistance to tyranny, wrong, and injustice. These were the men who last year struck for a shorter workday, fairer conditions of work and pay, and the right to organize in their own self-defense, for their own life protection; they knew they were entering upon a desperate struggle—yet they struck.

The coal operators of West Virginia have been trying to capture the lake trade. To undersell Pennsylvania competitors, they took that which should have gone tothe workmen. Toprevent protest on the part of the men, union organizers and unions were driven from that district. In protecting miners from outside ‘‘disturbing”’ influences and in preventing undue independ- ence within, the operators have been ably served by their mine guards. These mine guards are very like hired, legalized desperados who accomplish results expected of them. Another control over the workers arises out of the feudalistic system of landlordism existing in that district. The operators not only own the mines, but also the adjacent tracts of land, the houses rented to the miners, the stores, and the roads and avenues of approach. By the use of pay-cards accepted and negotiable only at the company store, and by with- holding wages and thereby compelling the workers to run an account at these stores, the economic dependence of the men was still more firmly established

and personal freedom was made a farce.

But normal human beings possessing a spark of independence and ambi- tion can not be oppressed beyond a certain limit of endurance. The West Virginia miners struck to free themselves from intolerable conditions. This strike raised a constitutional issue of importance not only to workmen but to all who value constitutional government. The Governor of the State declared that district under martial law; civil law, the writ of habeas corpus, trial by jury, were suspended. The Constitution of the United States denies Congress the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus ‘‘unless when in cases of re- bellion or invasion the public safety may require it." Those powers which are prohibited Congress are also prohibited the States. The constitution of the State of West Virginia declares that ‘‘the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended. No person shall be held to answer for treason, felony, or other crime not cognizable by a justice, unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury.”” Nevertheless, martial law was proclaimed and

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under it the leaders of the strikers were arrested and brought before a military commission. Through their attorneys they demanded habeas corpus pro- ceedings, which were denied them. Judge Littlepage of the Circuit Court of Kanawha County who agreed with the contentions of the miners, issued an order forbidding the military court to try the prisoners. The court’s order was ignored and disregarded.

The miners’ appeal to the Supreme Court of the State was denied by the majority decision. Judge Ira E. Robinson wrote a dissenting opinion in which he said:

“It is claimed that the power given by the constitution to the Governor as commander- in-chief of the military forces of the State, to call out the same to execute the laws, suppress insurrection and repel invasion, authorize a proclamation of martial law. Are these words to undo every other guaranty in the instrument? Can we overturn the many clear, direct, and explicit provisions, all tending to protect against substituting the will of one for the will of the people, by merest implication from the provision quoted? That provision gives the Governor power to use the militia to execute the laws as the constitution and legislative acts made in pursuance thereof provide they shall be executed. It certainly gives him no au- thority to execute them otherwise. In the execution of the laws the constitution itself must be executed as the superior law. The Governor may use the militia to suppress insurrection and repel invasion. But that use is only for the purpose of executing and upholding the laws. He can not use the militia in such a way as to oust the laws of the land. It is put into his hands to demand allegiance and obedience to the laws. It, therefore, can not be used by him for the trial of civil offenses according to his own will and law; for, so to use it would be to subvert the very purpose for which it is put into his hands. By the power of the militia he may, if the necessity exists, arrest and detain any citizen offending against the laws; but he can not imprison him at his will, because the constitution guarantees to that offender trial by jury, the judgment of his peers. He may use military force where force in disobedience to the laws demands it; but military force against one violating the laws of the land can have no place in the trial and punishment of the offender. The necessity for mili- tary force is at an end when the force of the offender in his violation of the law is overcome by his arrest and detention. There may be force used in apprehending the offender and bring- ing him to constitutional justice, but surely none can be applied in finding his guilt and fixing the punishment.”

Public interest was diverted from the miners to the conflict between military and civil government. It was not true that the civil tribunals of the State were unable to deal with all offenders against the laws. No invasion had occurred; no civil war existed. If war there was it must be classified as a private war of the feudal coal barons. Even in medieval times private wars were forbidden and repressed by the State. Is it wise for a modern State to identify private quarrels of the coal operators or any employers with constitutional government and overturn constitutional law in order to protect them?, This is indeed a grave issue. The decision of the State Supreme Court of Appeals caused protesting Judge Littlepage to dissolve his order and the drumhead court-martial was permitted to try citizens even though regular courts were capable of performing that function. Military government had eliminated civil government.

After the present Governor took office, he personally investigated condi- tions, freed many of the “prisoners of war,” but did not then abolish martial law. However, he used his influence to assist the miners to secure an agree- ment with the operators under which work could be resumed.

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On April 26, an agreement was reached between the miners’ representa- tives in convention at Charleston and the mine operators. The basic terms of the agreement were: checkweighmen * to be chosen by miners; semi-monthly pay; no discrimination against any miners and the right of miners to purchase necessities at independent stores; nine-hour workday.

But the operators failed to abide by the terms of the agreement. Al- though they made a pretense of employing the strikers, in a short time they began discriminating against and dismissing them. The situation became so intolerable that another strike was begun in the latter part of June. On July 15, the Paint Creek miners secured an agreement for the West Virginia miners providing recognition of the union with the check-off system, the nine- hour workday, and checkweighmen. July 29, Cabin Creek and Coal Creek miners entered into an agreement with their mine operators containing the following terms: recognition of the union and the right to organize; semi- monthly pay; nine-hour workday; checkweighmen; no compulsion to trade at company stores.

In the New River District a convention of the operators and miners was called to meet in Charleston, but only the miners came. However, a con- ference afterwards determined upon the terms of an agreement which was ratified. This agreement recognized the right of the miners to organize and to expend their wages wherever they pleased; provided for the semi-monthly pay-day, checkweighmen and arbitration of disputes; and specified that there should be no discrimination against strikers.

In addition, the West Virginia Legislature enacted a law whic practi- cally abolishes the mine guard system, ‘thus freeing the miners from the rule of the justly hated regime of Baldwin-Feltz brutality. Such progress indicates that the West Virginia miners are entering upon a new era of freedom and op- portunity. The present agreements will supply the means of self-protection and the attainment of yet better and fairer terms of employment.

Meanwhile the United States Senate adopted the following resolutions:

“Resolved, That the Senate Committee on Education and Labor is hereby authorized and directed to make a thorough and complete investigation of the conditions existing in the Paint Creek coal fields of West Virginia for the purpose of ascertaining——

“‘ First. Whether or not any system of peonage has been or is maintained in said coal fields.

““Second. Whether or not postal services and facilities have been or are interfered with or obstructed in said coal fields; and if so, by whom. 2

“‘Third. Whether or not the immigration laws of this country have been or are being violated in said coal fields; and if so, by whom; and whether or not there have been dis- criminations against said coal fields in the administration of the immigration laws at ports ef entry.

“Fourth. Investigate and report all facts and circumstances relating to the charge that citizens of the United States have been arrested, tried, and convicted contrary to or in viola- tion of the constitution or the laws of the United States.

“Fifth. Investigate and report to what extent the conditions existing in said coal fields in-West Virginia have been caused by agreements and combinations entered into con-

*The duty of checkweighmen is to weigh fairly the coal after it is brought to the surface. It can not be weighed in the mine; the miners themselves can not come up from the mine to see that the coaj they have mined is fairly weighed. The long continued practice of the checkweighmen selected by the mine owners, of cheating in the weight, made it necessary that checkingmen be selected by the men and viséed by « representative of the owners.

832 AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

trary to the laws of the United States for the purpose of controlling the production, sale, and transportation of the coal of these fields.

“Sixth. Investigate and report whether or not firearms, ammunition, and explosives have been shipped into the said coal fields with the purpose to exclude the products of said coal fields from competitive markets in interstate trade; and if so, by whom and by whom paid for.

“Seventh. If any or all of these conditions exist, the causes leading up to such conditions.”’

The following were appointed to constitute the sub-committee making the investigation: Senators Swanson of Virginia, Shields of Tennessee, Martine of New Jersey, Borah of Idaho, and Kenyon of Iowa. This committee went to the mining districts of West Virginia to form judgment from investigation and personal observation; the testimony before the committee gave publicity to shocking conditions which had before been suppressed by the controlling interests. The furtive, frightened manner of many of the witnesses was evi- dence in itself of the coercive methods which held them in subjection. The indignation of all just, humanitarian citizens was roused by the recital of the story of the ‘‘death special,’’ the heartless brutality that had been meted out to men, women, and children by the notorious Baldwin-Feltz guards, the manifest evidence that civil war had been waged within our country, and that civil government had been subordinated to militarism.

The committee returned to Washington to continue its investigations, but as vet has not completed its work and made a report.

The spokesmen of the privileged interests both of West Virginia and other States united in opposition to this proposed investigation. They pleaded in justification that sacred State rights would be violated and that no investiga- tion was wanted or needed. Later, somewhat curbed in the vehemence of their protestations, they exerted every influence to have the investigation discon- tinued on the ground that peace agreements had been signed and all diffi-

culties had been solved.

At the recent hearing before the committee in Washington, Mr. H. T. Davis, president of the Paint Creek Consolidated Coal Company, presented an unvarnished statement of the employers’ methods and viewpoint. He de- clared that the cause of the recent strike was the attempts of the United Mine

‘Workers’ organizers to go into the district and unionize the miners. He con- trasted the present ‘‘lamentable’’ indications of freedom on the part of the workers with the previous “‘scenes of content”’ and ‘‘prosperity”’ that prevailed before the advent of the organizing outsiders. ‘The testimony of Mr. Davis verified assertions of the miners in regard to the coercive and repressive meas- ures used to prevent organization of workers. He testified that he had given instructions that no “‘strangers’’ should be permitted to come up the creek without his knowing their business; he admitted that operators refused to employ members of the miners’ union, and that detectives were employed and armed with rifles to keep “agitators and organizers’’ out of Paint Creek. He affirmed that coal operators have a right to keep ‘‘trespassers’’ off their property and that organizers are “‘undesirables.’’ In reply to the question whether or not these miners could meet in Paint Creek district, he replied that ‘‘there was no place for them to hold a United Mine Workers’ meeting.”’

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Mr. Davis conceded that any miners wishing to purchase from an independent store would have to travel ten miles to find one. Is it any wonder that workers were made “‘docile’”’ under this system and that “labor disturbances” were rare? Organization breathes free air, demands normal free action and free speech. It makes free men.

While the effort to secure this investigation by the United States Con- gress was in progress, the National Executive Committee of the Socialist party voluntarily assumed the grave responsibility of taking up this work fraught with so much consequence to the working people of West Virginia and to all who held the cause of free government dear. The National Committee of the Socialist party appointed Victor L. Berger, Adolph Germer, and Eugene V. Debs to go into West Virginia and to make a report of the ‘“‘true conditions’’ in regard to both the economic and political grievances that had caused the strike and the great issues which grew out of it. Messrs. Debs, Berger, and Germer went into West Virginia, interviewed officials and made a hasty survey of conditions among the working people. Their report was made and widely published. Not only the representatives of the United Mine Workers but all the people generally were amazed, astounded, and indignant at the white- washing freely. given to the State Governor. This was the only new feature of the report supposedly made to reveal the grievances and injustice which had so long oppressed the miners; nothing else new or of value was presented but what had already been made public through the daily press.

The clean bill of health to the Governor caused those who understood the situation in West Virginia to have doubts as to the sanity or the honesty of the Socialist committee.

This condonation of the course of the Governor was a surprise to the many who understood the fundamental principles involved in the contest. While his continued maintenance of martial law is most sympathetically explained, the investigators fail to make any statement upon the substitution of trial by military commission for trial in the civil courts. This is one of the most im- portant issues involved in the struggle and one of vital importance to all who would maintain a free government, untrammeled by arbitrary power.

With the avowed purpose of investigation, these three men, Messrs. Debs, Germer, and Berger, went into West Virginia, and after a farcical examination published broadcast a report of what purported to be the ‘‘true’’ situation. In reality, under guise of friendliness, these three Socialists stabbed the miners of West Virginia and the labor movement of America in the back, by their apology for the wanton disregard of those principles which are fundamental for personal and political liberty and by assuming to present their personal misconceptions or perversions of facts in the name of the American workers.

In regard to the work of these disseminators of ‘‘true’’ conditions Sigurd Russell comments in The International Socialist Review as follows:

‘‘Whatever may be the report of these capitalist employes, it must be said that they worked hard and left no stone unturned to find out the truth from all parties concerned. And that is more than our own Socialist Investigating Committee did for its class. Such is the universal opinion of the Socialists and miners of West Virginia.”

The supremacy of the civil government over the military is an issue that

834 AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

has not and can not be settled by the miners’ agreements which have con- cluded the industrial movements. This is a political issue that can be decided only by our governmental agents, and it is the obvious duty of the Senate sub- committee to deal with this matter, as we feel confident it will, in the report it was appointed to make.

Another fundamental issue which overshadows the matters of immediate concern to the local miners is the indictment of the officials of the miners’ union under the Sherman Antitrust law for conspiracy in restraint of trade. One curious feature of the situation is that although the miners were charged with conspiring with the mine operators of other districts in order to unionize the West Virginia fields and thereby to eliminate the disadvantages of the operators in union districts in competition with other employers who had refused to enter into agreements according fairer wages and conditions of work to employes, no mine operators were indicted as co-conspirators. How- ever, the case is still pending and furnishes yet another reason why the work- ingmen must exert every effort to secure such changes in the Sherman Anti- trust law as will accord justice to Labor.

The miners have learned from their experiences of the last ten years and the recent strike, the imperative necessity for organization for strength and for a means of voicing their wrongs and needs. The work of agitation, education, and organization will continue until all the miners are given the opportunity of uniting for the common uplift.

For the public—or more correctly, the other workers and employers— there are more serious and more complex problems of justice. All the con- stituted forces of government were exerted in behalf of property, material things. To this end civil authority was displaced for military force. Mine operators were permitted to station armed guards upon their property. Where- ever disturbances or bloodshed occurred, it was always the miners who were arrested and not the mine owners, their brutal minions, and guards. Yet miners were killed, too—are not their lives as valuable as those of the guards? Are not men struggling for personal rights, economic independence, ideals for a better life, entitled to protection, safety, and liberty under our social arrange- ments? Shall martial law displace civil authority and shall things override human beings? Wealth, indeed, is necessary and valuable; but wealth should serve the needs of men, not enslave them. Freedom can not exist where human beings are subordinated to things.

There is another question of vital importance to the miners of the Kanawha Valley that must be solved by the governmental authorities—the extent and scope of the rights of private ownership. The coal corporations own vast contiguous tracts of land in West Virginia and claim the absolute right to do what they will with one hundred thousand acres. The only roads through this land are those permitted by the companies; the only houses and villages, those constructed and owned by the company; no church or post-office can be erected or used without the approval of the owner; sanitation, school, social intercourse, business transactions, are all subject to the interference of holders of the proprietary rights. No one is allowed on that private soil who has not given a satisfactory account of himself and his mission to the police authority

AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST 835

employed and directed by the owners. In short, the coal operators who own this section of the State arrogate to themselves all rights of government except such as must be conceded to the county. To make the situation more vivid and forcible, take another illustration. Suppose the United States Steel Cor- poration had been in existence in 1800 and had realized the value of the Louis- iana Territory. The purchase price the United States paid for that territory would have presented no difficulties to the United States Steel Corporation. After purchasing that immense tract of land, approximately nine hundred thousand square miles in extent, what would have been the property rights of the corporation? Would tke Steel Corporation have been permitted the abso- lute unrestricted right of government over that vast territory, controlling municipal affairs, sanitation, police, locomotion, the privilege of assemblage, the erection of churches and school-houses, and the control of doctrines and theories taught by schools and churches? The difference in the size of the two territories does not affect the underlying principle. Because the miners of West Virginia must work for coal operators who own all the adjacent lands, does it follow that these companies can select their clergymen for them, can con- trol sanitary conditions, can regulate their associations, can censor their literature, can deny them the right to walk in certain directions and to band themselves together for legitimate purposes or to make any effort to better themselves and their families?

Until some limitations are placed upon the absolutism of these absentee coal operators in West Virginia, the government of West Virginia will continue to be Russianized and the people can be naught but serfs. Organized labor has forced these conditions and perversions of justice upon public attention and now demands that the wrongs be righted. In West Virginia, as in the world over, the economic movement for freedom will work a mighty trans- formation in political thought and practices.

Notwithstanding the struggles and hardships of the miners not only in West Virginia but in Colorado and Michigan, notwithstanding the continued antagonism and the resistance of certain corporation managements to organ- ized labor, August 31, 1913, the United Mine Workers reported a paid-up membership of 409,158. Organization is the one hope of betterment for the working people—it is the foundation of all their progress.

“Wilt thou do the deed and regret it?

Thou hadst better never been born.

Wilt thou do the deed and proclaim it, Then thy fame shall be outworn;

Thou shalt do the deed and abide it, And from thy throne on high

Look on today and tomorrow As those that never die.”

AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

THE WEST, THE CANAL, AND THE EXPOSITION

By WALTER MACARTHUR

URING the past ten years the attitude of mind of the public in the West has been undergoing a marked change.

With the assurance that the long-mooted Isthmian Canal will shortly be completed, the people of the States bordering upon the Pacific have gradually awakened to a new sense of their relation to the rest of the country and of the responsibilities involved in that relationship.

The conception of a waterway connect- ing the oceans had long ceased to be a matter of speculative interest, and had become a reasonable probability in this age of me- chanical wonders, but of no practical con-

cern to the present day and generation. Today the Panama Canal is to all intents

and purposes a reality. The people of the Pacific and Atlantic are joined in a com- munity of thought and interest regarding those larger problems of national life, upon which in the past they have been divided, to their mutual disadvantage.

The labor movement of the West has shared equally with other elements in the feeling that life with its interests was a thing apart from the concerns of the people in “the States.” Impelled hither by the spirit of the pioneer, living and working as pioneers in the new country, the members of the organized crafts have met and solved the problems of their existence practically without reference to conditions in other parts of the United States.

The founders of the labor movement in the West brought with them a knowledge of the principles of organization, and upon these principles they acted. But the chief problems which confronted them arose out of circumstances peculiar to the locality, therefore requiring new methods of treat- ment.

The success that attended this treatment of the labor question naturally gave rise

to an attitude of self-sufficiency. This attitude too frequently overlooked the prime cause of the advantage enjoyed by Labor in the West, as compared with other sections. That cause was the “great gulf’ that was set between the two chief divisions of the country. The isolation of the West from the great centers of population left the former free to work out its own peculiar problems, unhindered by complication or pressure from without. The Panama Canal, by bridging, or rather completing, the gulf, and thereby making it a highway of travel, has destroyed the advantage of isolation. The currents of commerce and of travel, no longer checked by physical barriers, will flow freely between the seaboards of both oceans, between the near East and the far West. Thus the labor movement of the Pacific seaboard finds itself face to face with the Old World.

The West is no longer an isolated or self-sufficient country. It is part and parcel of ‘“‘the States.”” The labor movement of the West will continue to deal in its own way with its own problems, but, in addition, it must do its share in dealing with the problems of the country at large.

All forecasts of the results to follow the opening of the Canal are predicated upon a large immigrant travel. This, like almost every other feature of the situation, is as yet a matter of speculation. However, the labor movement is disposed to accept at their face value the predications of a material increase in the volume of immigration. Thus, the immigration problem, as it has existed in the West, is radically changed. That problem has existed in acute form since the very beginning of American settlement in the West. But it has at all times been chiefly, and at most times exclusively, a problem racial rather than economic in character.

The question first assumed the form of

an attempt by the people of California to exclude negroes.

The facts concerning the next phase, the anti-Chinese agitation, its origin in the early 50’s, the repeated attempts of the people to enforce discriminatory laws, the failure of these measures upon the ground

of unconstitutionality, the purely economic .

measures of the unions (including the adoption of the union label by the cigar- makers in 1874), the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, and its extension without time limit in 1902, are familiar to most readers. There can be no doubt that the Exclusion Act, enacted as the result of fifty years’ constant agitation, has saved the West to the white race. Lacking this pro- tection, the Western States would long ago have become a province not of ‘‘the States,”’ but of Asia. The labor movement of the country at large has been first and fore- most in the long struggle to protect the race, and to it is due the chief credit for the result.

The more recent agitation against Japa- nese and other Asiatic immigration rests upon grounds identical with those involved in the case of the Chinese. Throughout the half century from 1852 to 1902, and even down to the present day, the attitude of the West on the subject of immigration has been inspired by racial instinct and impulse. Economic considerations have entered into the discussion, of course, but even the economic feature has been grounded upon the race question. The standards of the Asiatic are low, as compared with our own, but no change in this respect can suffice to remove or offset the racial antipathy that is planted in the bone and sinew of men.

The immigration problem as it is now pre- sented to the West differs from that of the past. Race questions must give precedence to the economic element in the future treat- ment of the subject. The character of the problem is no longer solely that of a struggle between unassimilable peoples. The West, let us assume, is safe as a “‘white man’s country.”” From now on the struggle will be between white men themselves.

The entire section west of the Rocky Mountains, and even as far east as the Missouri River, is still but sparsely settled. The population of California, Oregon, and Washington probably does not exceed 5,000,000. In the larger cities of these

AMERICAN FEDERATIONIST

States, however, the number of unemployed men and women constitutes a serious evil. It is easy, and indeed quite true, to say, that the West contains room for a great increase of population. But this is generalization, and is not applicable to all cities or towns of any considerable size. Yet it is precisely the cities and towns that must first be ‘con- sidered in dealing with the subject of immi- gration, since no practical plan for “‘putting the immigrant on the land” has yet been evolved.

The first object, therefore, of the labor movement in these States is to discourage immigration, and by so doing, minimize the number of those likely at first to be attracted by the offer of cheap transportation and the assurance (?) of abundant opportunities in the ‘Golden West.’’ Considerable thought is being given to the formulation of a policy of land legislation under which much of the land now held out of use, or used only for grazing purposes, would be made available for agriculture. Reform in taxation and issuance of rural credits figure largely in the discussion of these plans.

With the somewhat vague purpose of “preparing for the newcomers,”’ a good deal of activity is manifest in certain quarters. Conventions have been held and resolutions have been adopted to the end that the immigrant shall be met at the dock, wel- comed, placed in a “school of citizenship,” and generally trained in the way he should go, according to the judgment of his pre- ceptors. The last session of the California Legislature created a commission for the purpose of