Greenwich Village Intellectuals and the Ludlow Massacre, 1914

  • Eric Homberger
Part of the Anthologies of English Literature book series


The Colorado coal-miners’ strike of 1913–15 was on a scale and of a ferocity which outstripped even the IWW-led strikes at Lawrence and Paterson in 1912 and 1913.1 Because it occurred near Manhattan, the Paterson strike made a particular impact upon the editors of The Masses, Max Eastman and Floyd Dell, and upon the circle of poets, bohemians, artists, anarchists and hostesses in Greenwich Village in which they moved. The celebrated strike pageant held in Madison Square Garden in support of the Paterson strike was conceived and organized by left-wing Villagers, and made a highly original contribution to the lexicon of American protest politics.2 But when the pageant left a deficit of several thousand dollars, instead of an anticipated surplus, the morale of the strikers collapsed and the strike was lost. The position of the Wobblies on the East Coast was fatally weakened by the defeat at Paterson, and by the subsequent recriminations. The Villager’s intervention in Paterson was symptomatic of the many uncertainties facing left-wing intellectuals who were drawn to industrial conflicts. The Socialist Party was engaged in an acrimonious disagreement about the place of middle-class intellectuals in the party.3


Radical Politics Open Shop News Agency Socialist Party Baseball Game 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For a brief summary of labour relations in the state see Isaac A. Hourwich, ‘Colorado, 1893–1914’, The New Review, II (June 1914) 329–32.Google Scholar
  2. Eugene O. Porter, ‘The Colorado Coal Strike of 1913 — An Interpretation’, The Historian, xii (Autumn 1949) 3–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 2.
    See ‘The Paterson Strike Pageant’, Independent, LXXIV (19 June 1913) 1406–7, and ‘The Pageant as a Form of Propaganda’, Current Opinion, (July 1913) 32, which summarizes press opinions. On the strike itself, see Steve Golin, ‘Defeat Becomes Disaster: The Paterson Strike of 1913 and the Decline of the I.W.W.’, Labor History, xxiv (Spring 1983) 223ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    The ‘new intellectuals’ who were attracted to the Socialist Party after 1911 were more likely to sympathize with the left wing of the party (although the itineraries of Eastman, Lippmann, Walling and LaMonte were sufficiently diverse to make generalization precarious) than to identify with the aspirations of the somewhat older generation of intellectuals, which included Hunter, Spargo, Simons, Ghent and Hillquit, who were moving towards political accommodation with Victor Berger and the right-wing party bureaucracy. Divergences between the ‘new intellectuals’ are suggested in Robert Rives LaMonte, ‘The New Intellectuals’, The New Review, II (January (1914) 45–53, which argues against Lippmann’s A Preface to Politics. See Paul Buhle, ‘Intellectuals in the Debsian Socialist Party’, Radical America, iv (April 1970) 35–58Google Scholar
  5. William I Gleberzon, ‘“Intellectuals” and the American Socialist Party, 1901–1917’, Canadian Journal of History, xi (April 1976) 43–65.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    A Report on Labor Disturbances in the State of Colorado, from 1880 to 1904..., prepared under the Direction of Carroll D. Wright, Commissioner of Labor (1905) p. 360. Colorado provided some of the most flagrant and deeply-rooted examples for those concerned with the problem of labour disputes: see Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, ‘Theories of American Labour Violence’, Journal of American Studies, xiii (August 1979) 245–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 12.
    Ray Stannard Baker, ‘The Reign of Lawlessness: Anarchy and Despotism in Colorado’, McClure’s Magazine, xxiii (May 1904) 43–57.Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    See Bohn’s ‘After Ludlow — Facts and Thoughts’, International Socialist Review, xv (August 1914) 112–14.Google Scholar
  9. 26.
    Dell, The Liberator, 1 (December 1918) 44–5Google Scholar
  10. 27.
    See Dell, ‘A Vacation from Sociology’, The Masses, vi (June 1915) 18Google Scholar
  11. 33.
    Sinclair’s response to the Ludlow massacre and his campaign against the Associated Press are recorded in his The Brass Check: A Study in American Journalism (1919) chs 24–5; Leon Harris, Upton Sinclair: American Rebel (1975) pp. 144–7; and Floyd Dell, Upton Sinclair: A Study in Social Protest (1927) ch. 12. See also John Graham], ‘Upton Sinclair and the Ludlow Massacre’, The Colorado Quarterly, xxi (Summer 1972) 55–67.Google Scholar
  12. 41.
    Mackenzie King noted in his diary, 12 January 1915: ‘I advised him strongly to nail his colors firmly to the mast at the hearings of the Commission... we were living together in a different generation than the one in which his father had lived... Today, there was a social spirit abroad, and it was absolutely necessary to take the public into one’s confidence, to give publicity to many things, and especially to stand out for certain principles very boldly.’ Quoted in R. MacGregor Dawson, William Lyon Mackenzie King: A Political Biography, vol. 1 (1874–1923) (1958) p. 237.Google Scholar
  13. 42.
    Lippmann, ‘Mr. Rockefeller on the Stand’, New Republic, 1 (30 January 1915) 12–13Google Scholar
  14. 43.
    Inez Haynes Gilmore, ‘At the Industrial Hearings’, The Masses, vi (March 1915) 8–9.Google Scholar
  15. 44.
    Carl Sand berg, ‘The Two Mr. Rockefellers — and Mr. Walsh’, International Socialist Review, xvi (July 1915) 18–24.Google Scholar
  16. 47.
    Allan Nevins, John D. Rockefeller: The Heroic Age of American Enterprise, vol. 1. (1940) p. 670.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Eric Homberger 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Homberger
    • 1
  1. 1.University of East AngliaUK

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