Monday, October 19, 2009

The World's First 'Terrorists'

Johann Hari: The World's First 'Terrorists'
Class war didn't seem like a metaphor to him: it was the reality of everyday life. The industrialist Jay Gould openly bragged: "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half." So Haywood -- some historians believe -- blew up the governor of Idaho, Frank Steunenberg, in 1907, and his trial was the biggest news story of the year. His lawyer, the legendary Clarence Darrow, urged the jury to side not with "the spiders of Wall Street" but with "the men who toil with their hands ... through our mills and factories, and deep underneath the earth. I am here to say that in a great cause these labor organizations have stood for the weak, they have stood for every humane law that was ever placed on the statute books. I don't care how many wrongs they have committed -- I don't care how many crimes -- I just know their cause is just."


  1. I’m not sure what historians actually believe Bill Haywood was guilty of the bomb murder of Frank Steunenberg, a former Idaho governor who would have been far down the list of enemies of the Western Federation of Miners. Haywood, WFM President Charles Moyer, and rank-and-file miner George Pettibone were indicted on testimony coerced from the apparent actual bomber, Harry Orchard, by Pinkerton Detective James McParland and literally kidnapped from Colorado and shipped on a sealed train to Idaho for trial. That’s the same McParland who made a name for himself breaking the Molly Maguires in the Pennslyvania coal fields years earlier. After Darrow won Haywood’s acquittal, Pettibone was also cleared, but returned home only to die of cancer within a year. Charges against Moyers were dropped. Both Moyers and Haywood played leading rolls in the early years of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW.) Labor history—a great novel waiting to be written.

  2. Patrick, thanks for more info! I can recommend one attempt at the great labor novel: Robert Houston's Bisbee '17.