Subversive Historian – 09/10/08

The Lattimer Massacre

One-hundred and eleven years ago on this day in people’s history, nineteen immigrant miners were massacred in Lattimer, Pennsylvania. On September 5th 1897, a county sheriff’s deputized posse opened fire on hundreds of mostly Slavic, Polish and Lithuanian anthracite miners. The peaceful demonstrators joined ten-thousand others in a strike that began on Labor Day and called on the mining industry to improve pay and working conditions. Anti-immigrant sentiment was present among the sheriff’s posse as the mostly Catholic Central European workers often faced discrimination. Public outcry against the massacre prompted an investigation, but, of course, no one was convicted. However, contrary to spreading fear, the Lattimer Massacre actually prompted 15,000 new people to join the ranks of the United Mine Workers of America.

And the mine owners thought immigrants speaking different languages couldn’t organize. As it turns out, they and their guns were wrong.

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