‘Miners Day in Butte’ by Clarence A. Smith from The International Socialist Review. Vol. 12 No. 1. July, 1911.

‘Miners Day in Butte’ by Clarence A. Smith from The International Socialist Review. Vol. 12 No. 1. July, 1911.

IT WOULD be difficult to imagine a more inspiring spectacle than that presented by the working class of Butte June 13th, the thirty-third anniversary of the organization of Butte Miners’ Union. The monster parade in the morning and the tense interest and enthusiastic reception of the revolutionary addresses at the open air meeting at Columbia Gardens in the afternoon, indicated such a working class solidarity as would gladden the hearts of the least hopeful of those whose eyes are turned toward the coming revolution.


The parade formed on North Main street, in the neighborhood of miners’ union hall, the first division starting at 9:45 o’clock. More than an hour and a half was required for the parade to pass a given point. It is estimated ten thousand workers were in line, more than six thousand of whom were members of Butte Miners’ Union No. 1, W.F. of M.


“Big Bill” Haywood, former secretary-treasurer of the Western Federation of Miners, and the man who spent nearly two years in a dungeon at Boise, Idaho, a victim of the wrath of the mine owners’ association, and who was later acquitted of the charge of murdering Ex-Governor Steunenberg, of Idaho, was the honor guest. Lewis J. Duncan, Socialist mayor of Butte, occupied a carriage following the one in which Haywood rode.

Probably no other man in America has been the subject for so much capitalistic abuse and persecution as Haywood. For this reason, if for no other, it must have been gratifying to the big miner to lead the greatest labor demonstration Butte has ever known. Haywood was especially moved by the great outpouring of miners, more than six thousand of whom paid tribute to his fidelity to their interests.


Although the announced line of march provided a place for the county officials following the speakers of the day, Sheriff O’Rourke and County Attorney Thos. Walker, took their places at the head of the parade when it was forming. Big Joe Shannon, a miner, and one of the marshals of the day, was cheered by the workers when he dragged the capitalistic politicians out of first place and ordered them back to the places assigned to them.

It is probable that the working people of this country will be given an opportunity of viewing Butte’s greatest labor parade, as motion pictures were taken at a number of places along the line of march.


Two tally-hos carried a score or more of Butte’s oldest miners. These grizzled veterans of the war of industry have for more than a quarter of a century contributed largely to the fortunes of so-called “copper kings,” many of whom have never seen the mines of Butte. These disabled and aged workers would have been deprived of the privilege of participating in their union’s demonstration had not the union itself provided means for their conveyance.

Officers of the Montana Federation of Labor, the Silver Bow (county) Trades and Labor Council, and of all local unions, of W.F. of M. and international affiliations alike, marched in the parade.

A check was kept against the members of the miners’ union marching. At the end of the march, coupons were distributed to all miners, such coupons returnable to the secretary of the union, who thereupon credited the member with parading. Although six thousand of these coupons were printed, not enough were on hand to accommodate all who called for them.


A pretty feature of the parade was the participation of the women’s protective union, the members riding in carriages.

It is not possible within the space of this account to detail the splendid showing of each separate union. Mention must be made, however, of the teamsters. These men, mounted on handsome and well groomed horses, to the number of nearly two hundred, were a center of attraction along the line of march.

Two mules that were brought up from the depths of the mines for the day were given a prominent place in the procession.


Haywood and Mayor Duncan were the speakers at the gardens. The Socialist mayor was entirely at home before a working class audience, as he has been fighting the battles of the workers more or less successfully for many years in Butte.

When Haywood stepped to the front of the platform in response to an introduction by President Dan Sullivan, of the miners’ union, he was accorded a rousing reception. The former secretary of the federation was in fine fettle, and the approval of the miners was manifested throughout by the tense interest with which they listened, and the frequent outbursts of applause.


Labor’s demonstration on Miners’ Union Day, coming as it did so soon after the working class victory at the city election, indicates the growing class consciousness of the working people of the “greatest mining camp on earth.” In the face of the vilest and most bitter opposition to the Socialist administration from capitalist interests, it is a fine thing to note that the workers possess the intelligence and class consciousness to line up solidly against their enemies. Whether or not the Socialists win the next election in this district is in reality second in importance to unifying the working class economically and politically. Every indication at this time points to the consummation of that hitherto apparently impossible task.

The International Socialist Review (ISR) was published monthly in Chicago from 1900 until 1918 by Charles H. Kerr and critically loyal to the Socialist Party of America. It is one of the essential publications in U.S. left history. During the editorship of A.M. Simons it was largely theoretical and moderate. In 1908, Charles H. Kerr took over as editor with strong influence from Mary E Marcy. The magazine became the foremost proponent of the SP’s left wing growing to tens of thousands of subscribers. It remained revolutionary in outlook and anti-militarist during World War One. It liberally used photographs and images, with news, theory, arts and organizing in its pages. It articles, reports and essays are an invaluable record of the U.S. class struggle and the development of Marxism in the decades before the Soviet experience. It was closed down in government repression in 1918.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/isr/v12n01-jul-1911-ISR-H-GR-ocr.pdf

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