Fort Collins Coloradoan suffocated Vlcttms had been cluamg me aeam 01 Innocent
skewered and roasted to death. women and children.
In the 10 days that followed. The Rockefellers had little or
Topic: Statehistory Colorado became a virtual war no direct responsibility. Yet at-
zone as disgruntled strikers en- tacks on Rockefeller began al-
Ludlow gaged in gun battles and de-
stroyed mine properties
most immediately - and were
abetted by John D. Rockefeller
throughout Colorado's mining Jr.'s own missteps.
Massacre districts. At least two dozen pe0-
ple were killed and numerous
Rockefeller refused to inter-
cede with the coal operators
others wounded. Colorado Gov. when an emj~:!y of President
remembered Elias Ammons and other state
leaders took nearly 10 days to
Wilson visited him. Rockefeller
had absolved himself of any re-
Ninety years ago this week, persuade a reluctant President sponsibility for 'the strike in Col-
on April 20, 1914, Coloradowas Woodrow Wilson to send feder- orado, stating. "My conscience
home to one of the most violent al soldiers to restore civil order.' will acquit me."
and controversialevents in the Press coverage strongly Newspaper editorial writers,
state's history - the "Ludlow
shaped public perceptions when clergymen and congressmen
Massacre."a bloody confronta- reporters and photographers chastisedthe young Rockefeller
tion that took place in a field 12 from Denver swarmed Ludlow for ~ and
miles north of Trinidad. and Trinidad They defined the patriotic. Rockefellerlater found
The dispute began in 1913 "Ludlow Massacre" as the event himself in an all-<»uteffort to
when the United Mine Workers remembered today. Two of vindicate the family name and
of America District IS,headquar- Denver's leading newspapers - correct the labor problems that
tered in Denver the Denver Post and Denver had led to the call for union rep-
and Trinidad, Thnes - provided reasonably resentation.
renewed its ef- balanced newspaper coverage. Kk1< HaIah.1, a ~ StBt8
forts to unionize However, the Demler Express. a ~ ~
professor, Is .x.,-.~ Ig
14,000 poor, socialist newspaper, stepped up a boc*: 00 JdV1 D. RockefeI8"s re-
mostly immi- its cont:i~ujp-s condemnation of sponse to the l1dow ~
grant miners in the strike with sensationalized
southern Col- coverage from Ludlow. The Ex-
orado between p~ was the first newspaper to
Walsenburg label the incident a massacre.
and Trinidad. - - The Rocky M~ News'
When a union Kirk William Chenery's famcxIS edi-
called in Sep- Hall an
a h torial. 'The Ludlow Massacre'
would define the tragedy for
~ tember 1913, Soapbox
~ striking miners ' ~ -
UMW A union leaders were
I were evicted from their homes instrumental in spreading the
in company to idea that Ludlow was a ~~cre
~ relocatetheir families to nearby and for ascribing blame to
( union-operated tent coIoni~ greedy, callous and corrupt
~ Violence soon broke out be- coo1-~Jne owners. The coal op-
t tween the displaced miners and erators in Denver were virtually
. the coal companies, and the silent. leaving the union free to
statemilitiawasdeployed. define the controversy.
t sions peaked April 20, and a The burden of telling the coal
- fierce gun battle broke out be- operators' side of the story fell to
l tween 3Smilitian1enand about a most unlikely source - John
200 miners in the tent colony at D. Rockefeller Jr. in New York.
r Ludlow. By day's end. seven The Rockefellers owned a 40
- men and a boy had been killed. per.c:ent.non-controlling interest
- The real tragedy was the 85- In the Colorado Fuel and Iron
- phyxiation of two innocent Co.. the state's largest coal oper-
women and 11 children who had ator. Although he was a CF&I di-
~ hiddenin an undergroundearth- rector, Rockefeller had not been
: en pit to avoid the crossfire.The in Colorado since 1903.
~ victims hadcovered pit with Rockefeller was an attractive
t a mattress and suffocated after target He and his father were
~ the tent colony was set on fire.
singled out as rich, ~y ab-
I One early, errant newspaper re- sentee owners and painted as re-
PO!!o ~pl.e. sai.d~~ the spo~ible.for ~e e;ntir.e a:ffair,in-