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Thursday, August 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: North Idaho towns organize boycott of Spokane goods in response to Wobblies

North Idaho towns were organizing a boycott of Spokane goods because Spokane was believed to be the Wobbly headquarters of the region, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on July 27, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
North Idaho towns were organizing a boycott of Spokane goods because Spokane was believed to be the Wobbly headquarters of the region, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on July 27, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The alarm over the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) reached a new high.

The Spokane Daily Chronicle reported that Idaho towns were prepared to punish Spokane businesses for Spokane’s “failure to stamp out the activities” of the Wobblies.

North Idaho towns were organizing a boycott of Spokane goods because Spokane was believed to be the Wobbly headquarters of the region. Spokane salesmen in the region already were “getting a chilly reception from northern Idaho merchants.” It was a tactic to get Spokane to “take steps to stop the propagation here of the I.W.W. doctrines.”

People in North Idaho were upset over Mayor C.A. Fleming’s stance on the Wobblies. He said that the Wobblies were within the law to make speeches and organize strikes, and he was reluctant to interfere with them.

Yet Spokane’s stance was hotly criticized in a Coeur d’Alene mass meeting, where the Wobblies were denounced as “traitorous” and Spokane was seen as “harboring” them.

Who would profit by the proposed boycott? The “coast cities” – Seattle and Portland. They would acquire the business that Spokane would lose.

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