Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Never Forget: Christmas Massacre 1913

Never forget, children: the bosses are your enemy. Rather than pay you a living wage or treat you like human beings, they'll see you dead.

Greg Mitchell at The Nation:

It was captured in brilliant and harrowing fashion by Woody Guthrie in his classic “1913 Massacre” (see below), but few may know the story of the actual tragedy, which took place on Christmas Eve of that year, at a party for striking miners and their families in Calumet, Michigan. Seventy-three died, including fifty-nine children.

I don’t often link to Wikipedia but there’s a quite full rundown here. It’s been the subject of several academic studies and much debate in recent years, so I suggest you read the full account. Mother Bloor was reportedly present, but some even dispute that.

The basic outline: someone shouted “Fire!” at the crowded party in the Italian Hall. There was a rather inaccessible fire escape and the only real exit was down a narrow, steep flight of stairs, and dozens of kids got trampled to death. In Woody’s version, and many others, the “Fire!” shouter was sent by the copper mine bosses to create just such an event. Woody added the twist (not claimed by others) that “thugs” held the doors to the street shut from outside.

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Katie Schroeter said...
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