Labor at the beginning of the 20th Century: the Carbon County, Utah Coal Fields 1900 to 1905

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Humanities
Department History
Author Powell, Allan Kent
Title Labor at the beginning of the 20th Century: the Carbon County, Utah Coal Fields 1900 to 1905
Date 1972
Description At the beginning of the Twentieth Century organized labor was moving forward on many fronts. In the industrial countries of Europe the conflict between labor and capital was often marked by violence. As a result of the confrontation new radical philosophies such as anarchism, syndicalism, and communism were adopted by many workers. At the same time the American labor movement was generally aggressive and militant. The anthracite coal strike of 1902, the most significant strike in the history of labor in the United States, occurred during this time. This strike saw the federal government actively intervene in a manner favorable to organized labor. The success of the United Mine Workers of America in the anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania led to attempts to organize the coal miners in other sections of the country. One of these areas was the coal fields in Carbon County, Utah. The Utah coal fields were ready for an attempt at union organization. Illustrative of the coal miner's plight in Utah was the explosion at Winter Quarters on May 1, 1900, which killed 200 miners. The tragedy was at that time more costly in terms of loss of life than any other mine explosion in the nation;s history. The disaster received national and international attention. It served as an example of the heavy price that was being extracted from workers by industry. In this sense the Scofield disaster had an intangible affect on the American Labor movement. In January 1901, the miners at Scofield and Clear Creek went out on strike. The strike was entirely a local reaction against alleged abusive and unfair practices by the coal company. Because of disunity and lack of preparation the strike was crushed despite the backing of organized labor throughout the state. The Scofield strikers sent a request to the national headquarters of the United Mine Workers of America for an organizer to be sent to Carbon County during the 1901 strike. No record has been found that the promised organizer ever arrived. However, in 1903, follwing the great victory in the anthracite coal region, organizers were sent and an intensive effort was made to organize the Carbon County miners. The strike in Utah paralleled the much more violent strikes in Colorado by the United Mine Workers and the more militant Western Federation of Miners. Reflecting the concern that violence would also characterize the Utah coal strike, Governor Heber M. Wells called out the state militia. This was the first time in the state's history that the militia had been used in a labor dispute. Initially it appeared that the militia would be used against the strikers. However, in the course of the strike the militia was used to protect the strikers from abuse by the company herrings. Because of the attitude of company officials and their mistreatment of the strikers many militiamen and citizens became disillusioned. However, they did not support the strike partly because of the large number of "radical Italians" involved in the strike. The local response of the Carbon County miners to the injustices and problems of their situation was in many ways similar to the national and international trends. Yet local conditions and personalities produced responses and events that were unique. Because of both its similarity and uniqueness the story of the Utah coal miners is a part its similarly and uniqueness the story of the Utah coal miners is a part of the varied and intricate mosaic depicting the world-wide labor movement during the early party of the twentieth century.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Dissertation Name Master of Arts
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Allan Kent Powell
Format Medium application/pdf
ARK ark:/87278/s6fv4bb9
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2020-11-25
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 1612634
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6fv4bb9
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