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Tuesday, March 26, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Soldiers and sailors clear socialist meeting hall

A gathering of socialists was told to leave by roughly 60 soldiers and sailors, home on furlough. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A gathering of socialists was told to leave by roughly 60 soldiers and sailors, home on furlough. (Spokesman-Review archives)

About 60 soldiers and sailors, home on furlough, walked into a gathering of Spokane socialists and ordered everyone to leave.

The uniformed servicemen turned out the lights and made this announcement:

“You fellows want to overturn the government, do you? Well, we are not going to have any bolsheviki here. Just take warning. We are going to have no more of these Sunday meetings.”

The socialists mostly filed out silently, except for one “slight woman,” who sputtered indignantly, “The beasts! Uncle Sam has been teaching them something.”

She continued to argue with one of the soldiers outside the meeting hall. When some of her friends told the soldier to “let the lady alone,” the soldier replied, “I wasn’t arguing. I was just just explaining to her.”

The meeting, in a Sprague Avenue hall, featured a speech by George F. Vanderveer, a Chicago attorney for the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies). In his speech, he said. “The capitalists are facing a situation which they know may act as it has in Russia and Germany. … The leaven is at work here, and in another year the reactionaries who have been sitting on the safety valve will be blown clear off.”

Two soldiers, not in uniform, were in attendance at the speech and did not like what they heard. They left the hall and passed the word to their servicemen friends about what they called Vanderveer’s “adherence to the bolsheviki of Russia and his attitude toward the United States.”

From the flu epidemic beat: For the first time in many weeks, not a single flu death was recorded in Spokane. In addition, the number of patients in the city’s emergency flu hospital dropped to 23, far below its peak. The official death toll stood at 402.

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