WE'RE COMING, COLORADO (FRANK J. HAYES)
Tune: "THE BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM") (1913)

PLAY MIDI FILE (21 KB) IN BACKGROUND

The aftermath of the Ludlow Massacre, 1914

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The Ludlow massacre was part of the 1913-14 strike of eleven thousand miners in southern Colorado. The miners had long complained of being robbed in their weights and defrauded in the company "pluck me" store. They had also protested against constant hounding by armed guards and deputies and against the unsafe condition of the mines. Colorado at that time had the highest coal-mine fatality rate in the world.

They had often sought to strike as means of redressing their grievances but had desisted on advice of the international union, whose officers had hoped that the powerful coal corporations might agree to collective bargaining. Frank J. Hayes, then international vice-president, twice invited the operators to a joint conference, as did the miners assembled in convention at Trinidad on Sep 15, 1913. But the operators had ignored these invitations.

It is significant that of the miners' six or seven demands, only two were not already guaranteed under severe penalty by the laws of Colorado. Much of the source of irritation, then, might have been eliminated if Governor E. M. Ammons' administration had enforced the laws.

Though winter lay ahead, the mining families were ruthlessly evicted from company houses. The United Mine Workers of America immediately built tent colonies for them. The largest, having two hundred tents and a population of nearly a thousand persons, was located on the barren plains of Ludlow.

When the strike in southern Colorado finally went into effect on September 23, over eleven thousand mine workers, 95 per cent of the total, left the pits. Stung by this spontaneous rebellion, the "Big Three" corporations -- Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, and the Victor American Fuel Company -- imported the Baldwin-Felts industrial detectives of West Virginia.

The Baldwin-Felts organization promptly took over the sheriffs' offices of Las Animas and Huerfano counties... and staffed them with several hundred barrel-house bums and professional gunmen imported from the cities.... The miners meanwhile had armed themselves in self-defense and in a battle had temporarily succeeded in driving the Baldwins into the hills.

Then came the Colorado National Guard, in command of Adjutant General John Chase. Assured by him and Governor Ammons that they would be let alone, the striking miners voluntarily surrendered their arms. On the last day of October 1913, with banners flying, the singing men, women and children marched behind their band down the road to meet the militia....

George Korson, Coal Dust on the Fiddle, Hatboro, PA, 1965, pp. 382-383

Lyrics as printed in UMWJ, Sep 18, 1913; as reprinted in George Korson, Coal Dust on the Fiddle, Hatboro, PA, 1965, pp. 388-389

We will win the fight today, boys,
We'll win the fight today,
Shouting the battle cry of union;
We will rally from the coal mines,
We'll battle to the end,
Shouting the battle cry of union.
CHORUS:
The union forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the Baldwins, up with the law;
For we're coming, Colorado, we're coming all the way,
Shouting the battle cry of union.
We have fought them here for years, boys,
We'll fight them in the end,
Shouting the battle cry of union.
We have fought them in the North,
Now we'll fight them in the South,
Shouting the battle cry of union.

We are fighting for our rights, boys,
We are fighting for our homes,
Shouting the battle cry of union;
Men have died to win the struggle;
They've died to set us free,
Shouting the battle cry of union.

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LOUIS TIKAS, LUDLOW MARTYR (poem; UMWJ, May 28, 1914)
LUDLOW MASSACRE (WOODY GUTHRIE) (c. 1944)
OUR CAUSE IS MARCHING ON (DAVIE ROBB) (1913)
TO LABOR MOVEMENT PAGE
TO SONGS FROM THE MINES PAGE
TO AMERICAN HISTORY IN SONG PAGE
TO STARTING PAGE

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