Jim Kershner’s this day in history
From our archives, 100 years ago
The president of the Western Federation of Miners, Charles H. Moyer, arrived in Butte, Montana, certain that he could make peace with insurgent members of his union.
Instead, he barely fled with his life. The Butte union hall was dynamited and reduced to rubble. Many people were injured and at least one killed.
The insurgent miners, many connected with the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), clearly wanted nothing to do with a peace settlement and had vowed to destroy the Western Federation of Miners, which they accused of corruption.
When Moyer arrived at the union hall, he was met by an angry mob and had to be whisked out the back of the building. Deputy sheriffs opened fire, spawning a lengthy gunbattle on the streets of Butte. Miners went to the tops of nearby buildings and peppered the union hall with bullets.
Then the miners repeatedly dynamited the hall. By the time they were finished, the union hall was rubble and buildings were damaged around the entire square. Many people were injured by flying glass and falling bricks.
By the end of the evening, the insurgent’s leaders were the main voices of restraint. They used megaphones to tell their followers to go home.
Meanwhile, the Montana governor was considering sending in troops.