History of the Labor Movement in the United States - Vol. 4

By Philip S. Foner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
The Moyer, Haywood, Pettibone Case

The I.W.W. had barely come into existence when it was involved, together with the rest of the labor movement, in defending the victims of one of the worst frameups in American labor history -- the Moyer. Haywood, Pettibone case.


THE ASSASSINATION

On the night of December 30, 1905, Frank Steunenberg, former governor of Idaho, was blown up by a bomb attached to the front gate of his home in Caldwell. Steunenberg had been elected as a Populist governor in 1896 and 1898 with labor support. But when bitter strikes broke out in the Coeur d'Alene mining district in 1899, Steunenberg, who had established close associations with corporate interests, betrayed the trust placed in him by calling for federal troops to break the strike. As a result, the influence of the W.F. of M. was effectively destroyed in Idaho. Almost immediately after the bombing, the Federation was blamed for the ex-governor's death. A. B. Campbell, an officer of the Mine Owners' Association, was reported to have asserted: "There is no doubt that Steunenberg's death was the penalty for his activity in doing his duty during the strike."1 Miner's Magazine immediately rejected the charge, insisting that the W.F. of M. did not preach or practice anarchist principles:

"We recognize the assassination of Steunenberg is not a step forward in the march of organized labor toward the goal of economic freedom.... The murder of a man who may be looked upon by labor men as a tyrant ...does not destroy one iota of the system that has given birth to industrial slavery." The leaders of the W.F. of M. announced: "We court the fullest investigation of rumors accusing the Western Federation of Miners of Governor Steunenberg's death."2

Soon the law-enforcement officers came up with a likely suspect. He was Harry Orchard (real name, Albert E. Horsley), itinerant miner and

-40-

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