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

By William D. Haywood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
RAIDS! RAIDS! RAIDS!

THE strike of the iron miners of Minnesota in 1916 was a great event in the history of the Industrial Workers of the World, though one thing occurred during this strike that caused an indelible black mark against the organization. This was the conviction of three of the strikers on a charge of murder. I will describe the affair later.

The strike began at the Silver Mine at Aurora, which was an iron property where the conditions under which the miners were working became unbearable. For example, there were places underground where the miners were compelled to drag timber through places so small that they had to get down on all fours in the slush and mud and drag the heavy timber to the places where they were working. Demands were made for improvements, and the strike began. It rapidly extended to the Mesaba, the Cayuna and Vermilion iron mining districts. Some 16,000 men were involved in the strike.

This was at a time when the United States Steel Corporation was flooded with war orders from all countries engaged in the carnival of murder.

The first move of the Steel Trust was to call out the guards and gunmen of the company. Then the Governor of the State sent the militia into the iron districts for the purpose of breaking the strike.

Governor Burnquist issued an order that there were to be no parades, processions, or demonstrations of the strikers. This would have deprived the men of one of their strongest means of agitation. The order was ignored.

A Finnish worker by the name of John Alar was killed while sitting on the porch of his house with his babe in his arms. This murder occurred at Eveleth. The dead miner's funeral was the occasion of a great demonstration of miners from all the different ranges. Those who went from the town of Virginia carried a streamer at the head of the procession upon which was inscribed: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." The organizers of the I.W.W. were

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