153: West Virginia’s Mine Wars: From Trouble in Matewan to the Battle of Blair Mountain

History That Doesn't Suck

Apr 8 2024 • 1 hr 2 mins

“I want to say make no settlement until they sign up that every bloody murderer of a guard has got to go.” This is the story of the largest uprising in the United States since the Civil War. As unions spread across the Progressive-Era United States, West Virginia mine owners manage to keep them out. They have some good reasons (tough margins) and some less savory ones … like their preference for an oppressive “mine guard system” in “company towns” that effectively removes civil government and private ownership, and reduces the American citizens working in their mines to serfdom. Mother Jones inspires the miners to push back.  Over the course of a decade, that pushback turns bloody – especially in Mingo County. But the worst of it comes just after the Great War, as the miner’s hero, Police Chief Sid “Two Gun” Hatfield, is murdered in cold blood at McDowell County Courthouse. Now, all bets are off. 10,000 miners grab their guns, ready to get revenge and free incarcerated miners. But they’ll have to go through Sheriff Don Chafin’s forces first. The two sides clash at Blair Mountain as the US Army arrives with regiments and aviation squadrons. ____ Connect with us on HTDSpodcast.com and go deep into episode bibliographies and book recommendations join discussions in our Facebook community get news and discounts from The HTDS Gazette  come see a live show get HTDS merch or become an HTDS premium member for bonus episodes and other perks. HTDS is part of the Airwave Media Network.  Interested in advertising on the History That Doesn't Suck? Email us at advertising@airwavemedia.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices