Grounds Scene of Demonstration in Which Speakers Assail State Officials
and Demand Action.
(Rocky Mountain News, 27 April 1914)
Five thousand men and women stood before the state capitol yesterday in a rain storm and raised their voices in protest against the Ludlow massacre.
Gathered under the statehouse dome, they stood two hours, rain-soaked and shivering. At intervals they burst into shouts, imprecations and cheers. It was a scene that never in the history of Colorado, possibly in the United States, has had a parallel.
At 2 o'clock the crowds began to assemble in the wind and rain-swept portico of the statehouse. Thousands had gathered a half hour later when from around a downtown corner appeared the United Mine Workers, marching under the stars and stripes and the union battle flag that on Monday floated over the now fire-swept Ludlow colony in southern Colorado.
Sing Battle Song of Labor.
A band crashed into the Marseillaise. A roar broke from the throng and with heads bare the miners came on up the drive behind their flags, singing the battle song of union labor. To the highest step of the capitol's front entrance went the flags and halted.
While the thousands stood silent, Jesse Vetter of the machinists' union clambored to a railing after the first speeches had been made and presented the demands of Colorado labor for their confirmation.
He demanded the impeachment or recall of Governor Ammons and Lieutenant Governor Fitzgarrald, the arrest for murder of Major Hamrock and Lieutenant Linderfelt, the immediate seizure of all coal properties by the state, the revocation of 13, 276 acres of state school lands now held by the coal companies, the recall of the Moyer decision, the repudiation of the $1,000,000 debt incurred by the state in sending the militia to the strike fields, and the immediate arming of every laboring man in Colorado.
Cheers Greet Proposition.
"Are you ready for the question?" shouted Vetter. A roar was his answer. "Now," he cried, and a volume of sound burst forth. "Again," he shouted, and again and again came the burst of cheers, swelling until it echoed far down town. Men threw their hats high, umbrellas were tossed in the air and women shrieked and became hysterical
The resolution in full reads:
To all people: This meeting, gathered under the open skies, cries to the world the record of industrial wrongs that found ghastly culmination in the wanton massacre of men, women and children under the burning tents of Ludlow.
There are laws upon the statutes of Colorado that guarantee to miners the eight-hour day, cash payment for work, semi-monthly paydays, the right to unionization, check weighmen and the protection of safety devices.
Absentee landlords, operating on land stolen from the school children of Colorado, their humanity stifled by avarice, have defied every one of these laws continuously and openly. More than 2,000 miners have died like rats in traps these last twenty years because dividends could not be lessened by the expense of improvements and their families, denied the right to collect damages, have been doomed to squalor and despair.
This cruel control has been obtained by the purchase of state, county and municipal officials, seizure of the election machinery, the peonage of employees, the use of hired desperadoes and the constant threat of the state militia, all to the end that justice has been crushed and a sovereign state buried in shame and disaster.
Revolt has come at last. Twelve thousand wretched men, speaking thirty-six different tongues, have found common voice in a cry of despair that shakes the world. It is to their relief that we dedicate our lives and our liberties.
We demand the instant seizure of the coal mines by the state pending an agreement between the operators and the strikers.
We demand that the leases of 13,276 acres of school land, for which the companies pay a beggarly rental, be canceled at once, and plans laid instantly for development by the state of the 473,000 acres of coal land owned by the state.
We demand a constitutional amendment repealing the infamous Moyer decision, rendered by corrupt judges to rob the humble and oppressed of their most sacred constitutional guarantees.
We demand that our legislature repudiate the $1,000,000 debt that the coal companies' use of the militia has saddled upon the state, thereby forcing capital to pay its own bills.
We brand Elias M. Ammons, governor, and S. R. Fitzgarrald, lieutenant governor, as traitors to the people and accessories to the murder of babies, and we call upon the special session of the legislature to impeach them as false to their oaths and their God, and if there be no special session, we hereby pledge ourselves to institute recall proceedings so that these servile tools of special privilege may be deprived of their power to betray and oppress.
And, lest it be thought that these are but hasty determinations that will pass with the passion of the moment, we call upon the justice loving citizens of Colorado to arm themselves so that if law and order be still be defied, we may be able to protect our homes, our loved ones and our sacred rights.
Go Back Into Rain.
As the crowd gathered and surged around the statehouse, employes threw open the doors of the chamber of the house of representatives. There was not enough room, and when leaders refused to accept any favors from the men they had gathered to denounce, the crowd again went out into the rain. Umbrellas were lifted, and those who had none turned up their collars and huddled together.
George Creel was introduced to the crowd by Charles Ahlstrom, union leader, as the first speaker, and the audience grew quiet as he climbed to a rail and began to speak.
"The martyred men, women and children of Ludlow did not die in vain," he shouted. "They have written with their blood upon the wall of the world.
"Those people like the Rockefellers, who profess Christ in public and crucify him privately, have been unmasked, and never again will the patter of prayers be permitted to excuse Judas' greed.
"Patriotism is robbed of power to befool, for the love and union of twenty-six nationalities at Ludlow have shown us that brotherhood is a finer, better word.
"Private ownership of natural resources and public utilities is seen as a thing that corrupts officials, poisons the law and makes murderers, and we will have no more of it.
Challenge From Ludlow.
"These, then, are Ludlow's challenges to those who sit in the seats of the mighty, wrapping the flag about their profits, putting their assassins in the country's uniforms, buying law and legislators, and crying out against class prejudice, even while they draw class lines with a bayonet's point.
"But is there not a message from those graves to you yourselves, O brothers, in all callings? The blood of children is on the hands of Rockefeller, Welborn, Osgood and Ammons, but can we count ourselves entirely free from blame? Is it not true that the massacre was made possible by labor's failure to appreciate labor's strength?
"Who does not know that it is in the power of workers to prevent every industrial crime and economic injustice by united action? You, whose energies turn the wheels of life, have mastery in your grasp by the exercise of no greater violence than the putting down of tools, not by groups, but as a class.
Capital's Strength in Unity.
"Look at the solidarity of capitalism! Mark the unity with which coal companies, railroads, banks and merchants have worked throughout the strike! Are we less intelligent?
"Let this solemn occasion mark regret for past failure and stern resolve for future unity. March as an army, toilers, and fear no defeat.
"Drag down such traitors as Ammons and Fitzgarrald, banish your Welborns and Osgoods, jail Chase, Hamrock and Linderfelt on the charge of murder, and pursue the Stearnses and the Johnsons into obscurity with your loathing.
"Take back the privileges that have been bribed and stolen, and let the people provide for the people.
"The instinct of self-preservation demands it. If the miners are crushed today it means that Chase and his murderers will be used to crush you tomorrow.
Life of Race Demands Action.
"The life of the race demands it. When the sordid shopkeepers of the Chamber of Commerce condone the slaughter of babes out of regard for dirty dollars, when women withdraw from a society because it is so vulgar as to cry out against the Ludlow horror, when the operators print that the strikers made no effort to save their women and children, when men in uniform find fun in murder and torture, it shows a society far on its road to rot.
"Gather, unite and advance! Destroy the evil, the unclean, the sordid and unjust. Bring about a government that is a working partnership with the people. Water your own deserts, harness your own streams, operate your own machines and make this great wonder state one where there is every opportunity for the worker, but no room for the parasite.
"By your might and your right, bring to pass the brotherhood for which Christ died. Transform Colorado into a haven for the oppressed of the world, rising into happiness under a law based upon love and equal justice.
"It is the command of Ludlow's living dead."
O'Neill Assails Governor.
John M. O'Neill, editor of the Miners' Magazine, followed Creel with a savage attack on the governor.
"He's a nonentity who has farmed out Chase and the militia to strangle justice, assassinate law and glut the corporations with the blood wrung from men, women and children," O'Neill shouted.
"He's a traitor to the constitution. I'd rather be a rebel battling for my living in the burning coal field than an Ammons.
"Labor is weary of mass meetings and protests that avail nothing. Now we will take action and with the smoke clearing from the battlefield, the dollar will no longer be the God in the Colorado constitution."
Plea to Drive Out "Gunmen."
Herman Ross, who came to the meeting direct from Ludlow, made a plea that the mine gunmen be driven out of the state.
"They said 'to h------ with the kids' and turned their guns on them," he cried. "Are you going to stand for it again?"
"No," the crowd shouted.
"Then get them out of there," he shouted.
Edward Doyle, miners' secretary, was cheered as he stepped up to the rail and began to speak.
"The miners have not yet given up this fight," he cried, and a cheer answered him. "The Ludlow massacre was premeditated and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is the man responsible. His statement before Congress will prove that I tell the truth.
"I denounce the real governor of this state, the man who has been behind Ammons, the tool of the coal companies. I denounce Fred P. Johnson, the stockyards boss and the man it was who backed the militia in the killing of women and babies. I denounce the mine guards wearing the uniform of the militia, Hamrock and Linderfelt."
Cheers Greet Mother Jones.
While Doyle was speaking, Mother Jones reached the capitol from the union station. She had just arrived from Washington.
A roar of welcome went up and Doyle at once jumped down and helped the aged strike leader to his place. She took off her hat and threw up her clenched fists in a welcome.
"Well, here I am again, boys," she shouted, and a burst of laughter and applause burst out.
"I'm just back from Washington," she called, "and I've got this to say. You aren't licked by a whole lot. Washington is aroused and there's help coming. Just keep your heads level and don't do anything foolish to disgrace the state. The state's all right. It's a few fools at the head of things that are bad.
"Not all of the militia is bad. There's one man in it that's a gentleman. I knew him when they had me in jail at Trinidad. He's Colonel Verdeckburg. I told President Wilson he was the one gentleman in the Colorado militia.
Warns Against Violence.
"Don't commit any depredations. We'll make some laws to put the Colorado Fuel & Iron company out of business and Mr. Rockefeller, who's probably teaching his Sunday school class right now. We'll get some regular men for state officers next time. You've had your lesson.
"I found this governor thing of yours in Washington trying to save some trees when I got there. I told him: 'God Almighty, save the people and let the trees alone. Back there you have murder of women and children and here you are praying for trees.'
"We'll win out. They'll never crush a principle and they never will stop me as long as I have breath to denounce them and lead the men for justice and liberty. They can throw us in jail but they can't keep me there. They may kill me but they can't hush me.
"Now then, you boys all go home, mind me now, and keep cool. Go home, stay out of the saloons, save your money, and when I want you I'll call for you."
There was a tremendous cheer as "Mother" Jones finished and then the "boys" and their wives obediently turned and, through the pouring rain, went home.
transcript subject to verification
Capitol Protest Reported In The Rocky Mountain News
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