Initial notes on Bisbee deportations

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The Emma Goldman Papers
Last updated
April 15, 2013, 10:53 a.m. (view history)

See also:
online exhibit from the Journal of Arizona History, which includes local newspaper articles:
Google search for month of July, 1917: link

Haywood denies that "German influence and German money were behind the coper mine strikes at Bisbee, Ariz.; Butte, Mont., and elsewhere in the West." He cites Senator Charles Thomson as a source of the accusation.

Calls Bisbee deportation an "outrage"

City of Bisbee shut down for the day of July 12 so that the "Citizens' Protective League, number 1,500, fully armed," could round up member of the IWW. Upon their capture, taken to a local baseball park where "they were searched for weapons and the little red cards showing their membership in the I. W. W. organization." Few weapons found. 1,193 members sent to New Mexico on a 27 car train.

"Business men and miners who want to work had determined that the entire industry of the cap should no longer be tied up by an organization expressing the determination announced by leaders that the situation in the entire state will have to be settled to their satisfaction before work will be permitted in any camps"

Strike in Bisbee started June 27, 1917, called by the IWW Metal Mine Workers' Industrial Union. Three large mine operators decided to shut down rather than deal with the new union. Union secretary A. D. Kimball said that 90% of miners supported the strike, while two mine operators said that very few did.

On the second day of the strike, report that "There has been no disorder and union leaders said that the men who wanted to work would not be interfered with by 'peaceful pickets' who had  been stationed about the mines"

At the bottom, a note from Sheriff Harry Wheeler on the motivation for the roundup... excerpt: "This is no labor trouble. We are sure of that, but is a direct attempt to embarrass the government of the United States. I, therefore, call upon all loyal Americans to aid me in peaceably arresting these disturbers of national and local peace. ... All arrested persons will be treated humanely and their cases examined with justice and care. I hope no resistance will be made for I desire no bloodshed. However, I am determined, if resistance is made, it shall be effectively overcome."

section on strikes in Bisbee and other Arizona copper mines from 369 to 373.

369: "Arizona's copper mines produced 28 per cent of the nation's total supply."
"Miners' unions ... had never had the success in Arizona they once had in Butte. The state's boom mining years began just as the Western Federation of Miners decayed, and when the war came in 1917 Arizona miners lacked any effective means of redressing basic job grievances."
List of IWW organizers sent to Arizona: Charles MacKinnon, Frank Little, Grover H. Perry.

370: IWW worked by either co-opting old IUMMSW [International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers] branches into the Metal Mine Workers' Industrial Union or by instating a dual card system. The former was the case in Bisbee, where the old union was weak. New Metal Mine Workers' Industrial Union formed January 29, 1917 grew quickly.

371: "Yet in Arizona, as had often been the case elsewhere in the nation, working-class discontent outran IWW plans. After April 1917 ... neither IWW leaders nor IUMMSW officials could restrain Arizona's miners in their demand for higher wages." Through 1917 the situation was fluid, but "two constants prevailed: the employers' absolute refusal to deal with organized labor, and the miners' unheard demands for a redress of their grievances through collective bargaining."

372: IWW called strike on June 26 in several cities. Dubofsky attributes action to the situation in Butte.

section on Bisbee from 385 to 390.

385: Sheriff Harry Wheeler, one of those most vocally opposed to the IWW, organized a group of "his captains and deputies, the mayor and the county council, the Phelps Dodge Company's top local executives ... and leading railroad, telephone, and telegraph company officials" to combat the IWW. "No messages could reach or leave the city without the permission of Wheeler or one of his confidants." The group ("two thousand deputies") rounded up more ~1,200 men on the morning of July 12 and sent them on a train out of Arizona to New Mexico.

387: on the deportees-- "Instead of uncovering an army of Mexicans, Germans, and subversives, they discovered that almost half the deportees were American citizens, most of whom had registered for the draft; only a handful were technically enemy aliens; Mexicans were an insignificant minority; and a substantial number of the refugees had wives, children, property, bank accounts, and even Liberty Bonds in Bisbee."

388: Refugees not able to get federal government to act on their behalf, even though there were "perfunctory condemnations of Bisbee vigilantism by President Wilson and Governor Campbell."