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Mother Jones Court-Martial: 1913 - "'i Warn This Little Governor"

strikers defendants workers prosecution

In July 1912, the UMW struck against the Paint Creek Mining Company near Charleston, West Virginia. Advising a crowd of 1,000 workers that the governor could—if he would—-ban the armed guards who protected company premises, Mother Jones described him as a "goddamned dirty coward." She said, "I warn this little governor that unless he rids Paint Creek of these mineguard thugs, there is going to be one hell of a lot of bloodletting in these hills."

By September, Governor William E. Glasscock, seeing 2,000 workers supporting the strikers, ordered in 1,200 National Guardsmen to establish martial law. The strike continued into February. On Monday the 10th, 50-armed strikers attacked 25 mine guards—watchmen, office workers, and nonunion volunteers—along a ridge above the town of Mucklow. At a machine-gun post, guards Fred Bobbitt and W. R. Vance were killed and three others wounded before National Guard soldiers arrived. The militia arrested 48 strikers but no nonstrikers.

On Wednesday, county prosecutor T. C. Townsend ordered police to arrest Mother Jones and release her only to the military authorities at Pratt, West Virginia. There she and the 48 were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the Mucklow deaths and injuries.

Under martial law, the trial was a court-martial. Opening on March 7, 1913, the prosecution described how the defendants had murdered Bobbitt and Vance and feloniously wounded John Crockett, Thomas Nesbitt, and R. L. Taylor in their conspiracy to steal a machine gun, and had then conspired as accessories after the fact to help the murderers escape.

Judge Advocate George S. Wallace, the prosecutor, first tried to name defendants John W. Brown, George F. Parsons, and Charles H. Boswell (editor of the Socialist newspaper Labor Argus) as leaders of the strikers. Cross-examination revealed that witnesses identifying them were themselves defendants who had been promised release for testifying for the prosecution.

Mother Jones Court-Martial: 1913 - Posed As A Miner For Five Months [next] [back] Mother Jones Court-Martial: 1913 - "mother" Of All American Workers

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