Coal Wars | The Matewan Massacre | 2

American History Tellers

By Wondery

Coal Wars | The Matewan Massacre | 2

Wednesday, 23 December

In March 1913, famed labor activist Mother Jones was locked up in a shack in Pratt, West Virginia, suffering from pneumonia and a high fever as she awaited court martial. For a year, the striking miners she led endured hunger and violence as they waged their desperate battle for the right to organize. Now, their struggle hung in the balance. West Virginia was under martial law, and hope for victory over the powerful coal companies seemed dimmer than ever. 

Newly inaugurated Governor Henry Hatfield vowed to end the crisis. But the deal would drive a wedge through the miners’ movement. New leaders took charge of the union, steering the miners through World War I and a daring new campaign into the state’s isolated southern counties. Soon, a violent showdown in the mountain town of Matewan would ignite a new, dangerous escalation in the conflict.

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