Monday, February 28, 2011

The Ground We Walk On: A History of The Jackson Miners Union (Post 4)

By David Roddy
Note: Please read Posts 1,2 & 3.

A Shot Across the Land
A group of spectators lined up one early September afternoon outside the doors of the Temple of Music, erected for the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. They had come to a meet and greet with the President of the United States, William McKinley. Leon Czolgosz, the 28-year-old son of Polish immigrants, nervously stepped out of the hot September afternoon sun into the Temple. A series of strikes he witnessed while working in a steel factory as a child radicalized Czolgosz, and as an adult, he became obsessed with anarchist philosophy. Czolgosz wrapped his right hand in bandages, and McKinley, assuming he was injured, offered his left hand instead. Czolgosz smacked this gesture away and pulled the trigger of the revolver hidden under the bandages, firing two bullets into the President’s gut.
McKinley died several days later. Czolgosz justified his actions, as his last words before electrocution: “I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people—the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime.”
October 4th, 1901 image from Amador Ledger depicting activist Emma Goldman, whom Czolgosz admired, and Johann Most, whose advocacy of "Propaganda of the Deed" influenced violent acts against businessmen and politicians across the Western world.

The assassination of President William McKinley electrified American politics. Paranoia surrounding anarchists, immigrants, and labor unions captivated the newspapers, including those in Amador County. The deluge of news and opinions surrounding McKinley’s murder inundated any rumors of a miners union. It is unknown if miners continued to organize during the next twelve months. Perhaps it was prudent to keep such activities secret, as the insurrectionary, socialist (and often anarchistic) rhetoric of the W.F.M. would have been suicidal during a national red scare. Perhaps the widespread antagonism towards labor unions during this period made miners wary of joining a union in the first place. Probably some combination of both contributed to the sparse coverage of the union during this period.

A cartoon featured in October 1901 Amador Dispatch that reflects the
general panic about immigrants and anarchism after the McKinley Assasination.

Whatever the case, there would not be news of a miners union in Jackson until the following September.


Amador Dispatch, September 8th through October 15th, 1901.

"Lights Out in the City of Light: Anarchy and Assassination." University at Buffalo Libraries. 11 June 2004. Web. 28 Feb. 2011. .
1, 2, & 3.


  1. THis might be an interesting booth at the Amador County Fair

  2. What would such a booth entail?

  3. I have just discovered your blog and your group. I am very much enjoying your narrative history of the local union movement. I am also impressed with your obvious knowledge of progressive politics. I am very excited to discover your presence here in the foothills. Good work!