The Ludlow Massacre: April 20, 1914

This month, 101 years ago, was the Ludlow Massacre, one of the most brutal events in a violent 14-month strike against poverty wages and dangerous working conditions by coal miners in Colorado. Seven months into the strike, on April 20th, 1914, about 1200 strikers and their families living in a tent colony near Ludlow, Colorado were attacked by a unit of Colorado National Guard and  gun thugs hired by  the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, owned by John D. Rockefeller. Some of the miners were armed and fired back but they were outnumbered. When a leader of the miners attempted to negotiate a truce he was beaten and shot by officers of the National Guard.

Fighting continued all day. But in the night, the National Guard overran the camp, and burned the tents down. Two women and eleven children who had hidden under the tents were burned to death. In total, over 26 miners and many family members were murdered before the fighting ended. Four company troops were killed as well. None of these murderers for hire went to jail.

In the aftermath of the Massacre, workers revolted all over Colorado, briefly taking control of several Colorado towns and battling company police throughout the state. Sympathy strikes took place outside of Colorado along with solidarity marches in many cities across the U.S. Some Colorado National Guard units mutinied against their commanding officers rather than fighting the miners. But in the end, the mine owners came out on top thanks to the brutality of the U.S. Army. Overall 66 miners were killed.

While the miners lost the strike, their militancy was not forgotten. Congress and the Colorado government passed laws improving the working conditions of miners, fearing more widespread resistance. And by the 1930s, this militancy exploded again, ultimately winning the miners the recognition of their union. The massacre at Ludlow is a reminder of the fighting spirit of the working class, and the brutal class war that the bosses rely on to hold onto their power.