Bill Haywood's Book: The Autobiography of William D. Haywood

By William D. Haywood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
TIN HOUSES AND AUTOCRACY

THE eight-hour fight in Colorado was looming up as one of the biggest things the organization had ever encountered. The unions of the Cripple Creek district sent some of their best men to the convention of May, 1902. Sherman Parker, Bill Easterly, Dan Griffis, Bill Davis, Charles Kennison, D. C. Copley and John Harper were there. St. John came from Telluride and Frank Smeltzer from Silverton. E. J. Smith represented the Denver smelter men. The convention was unanimous for pressing the eight-hour fight to a successful end. It endorsed what was being done by the mill and smelter men. All over the state, in Telluride, Durango, Florence, Canon City, Pueblo, Idaho Springs and Denver, the agitation for the eight-hour day was going on. This was soon to break in the Colorado industrial wars.

The convention again unequivocally endorsed the principles of Socialism. The policy and principles of the Western Federation of Miners were of much concern to the mine owners of the West, but some puerile-minded Socialists, such as Victor Berger, referred to the struggles that developed as "border feuds," intimating that they were not of much interest to the Socialist Party.

In my first articles in the Miners' Magazine I had proposed that the Western Federation should get control of mines by lease, bond, location or purchase. The idea seemed at the time a solution of some of the difficulties that we were constantly meeting. I introduced at this convention measures to this end, and was helped by Tom Hurley, who had been at one time a coal miner in Pennsylvania. I often wondered if he was the same Tom Hurley that McLain had told me about in his story of the Molly Maguires. He laid before the convention delegates definite plans of the coal beds of Routt county, which were then open to entry or location. Hurley reasoned that the W.F.M. could form a subsidiary company to get control of the land underlaid by coal, for the general organization.

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