13 thoughts on “United States farmers’ anti-World War I revolt

  1. Pingback: George Bellows, US American artist, exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Mary Barbour, Scottish rent strike organizer | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Cat shot for treason in World War I, poem | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: United States students against mandatory authoritarian pro-capitalist indoctrination | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: US entry into World War I, exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Butte, Montana, June 5: Miners demonstrate against conscription

    A crowd estimated in the thousands marches in this copper mining city against the Wilson administration’s imposition of the draft. The parade begins with an estimated 600, led by miners’ wives marching behind a twelve-foot red flag. It is soon attacked by police and “patriotic citizens,” but does not disperse. “Women paraders fought the police, and the crowd swelled to several thousand,” the New York Times reports.

    Mayor W.H. Maloney mounts a business clock in the center of the city and orders the crowd to disperse within 15 minutes. At that point, “Troops that had been held at their barracks came at a run with their bayonets fixed.” The demonstrators then reassemble outside the Finnish socialist hall, where the crowd is addressed by a woman speaking in Finnish.

    The leadership of an Irish anti-conscription organization called the Pearce Connolly Club are jailed the same day for distributing anti-conscription literature in Butte. The city is placed under martial law.

    Demonstrations against conscription are also reported among the miners of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at Hancock, Houghton, Calumet, and Nagaunee, where national guardsmen, local police, and vigilantes are used to disperse and arrest protesters.

    Arrests, beatings, and public humiliations of individual “slackers” are reported from across the US. Many of these individuals are publicly forced to kiss the American flag.

    June 5, Conscription Day, is nonetheless declared to be a success by the Wilson administration, with estimates that some 9 million American men—overwhelmingly workers and farmers—enroll in the draft.


  7. Flagstaff, Arizona, June 5: American Indians refuse conscription

    American Indians refuse conscription at several locations across the US. At Flagstaff, Navajo Indians drive draft officials and other officers off their reservation when they attempt to impose conscription. Ute Indians in Colorado refuse to register and have reportedly threatened to burn the nearby city of Ignacio. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, leaders of the Pueblo are arrested and charged with “conspiring to prevent registration.”

    Only two decades have passed from the conclusion of the bloody Plains Indians Wars—the killing and forced dispossession of the tribes of the trans-Mississippi West to make way for American mining, railroading, and ranching interests. American Indians have been forced onto poverty-stricken reservations and, through the Dawes Act of 1887, compelled to privatize their lands and give up traditional cultural practices. Now they are asked to fight and die in Wilson’s “war for democracy.”


  8. Pingback: Big anti-Trump demonstration tomorrow in Paris, France | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: United States artist Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition in Canada | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Oklahoma, August 2: “Green Corn Rebellion” of tenant farmers against conscription

    An uprising involving thousands of Oklahoma tenant farmers and allies—white, black, and American Indians of the Muskogee and Seminole nations—against the imposition of military conscription is met with massive repression, resulting in hundreds of arrests and three deaths.

    Called the “Green Corn Rebellion” because the tenant farmers allegedly intend to march on Washington, DC, surviving on roasted green corn as they move, the rebellion emerges in a part of the United States where socialism has had a major influence. In Seminole County, the center of the rebellion, the Socialist Party won 22 percent of the vote in the 1916 presidential election. The same year saw the emergence of a union of tenant farmers calling itself the “Working Class Union,” or WCU, which was inspired by the revolutionary trade unionism of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The WCU, which claims 35,000 members in Oklahoma, has armed itself and carried out violent reprisals against the vigilante “justice” of the rural elite.

    According to one local newspaper account, a statement has been issued to the tenant farmers calling for resistance to conscription:

    Now is the time to rebel against this war with Germany, boys. Boys, get together and don’t go. Rich man’s war. Poor man’s fight. The war is over with Germany if you don’t go and J.P. Morgan & Co. is lost. Their great speculation is the only cause of the war.

    An army of some 800 to 1,000 farmers respond to the call to arms on August 2, burning down bridges and cutting telegraph lines. However, after a skirmish with a large sheriff’s posse, the men disperse. Three are killed in the exchange. Mass repression follows. Some 450 are arrested, of whom 150 receive lengthy prison sentences lasting as long as 10 years. The Oklahoma Socialist Party, facing persecution, disbands. The IWW in Oklahoma is also targeted.


  11. October 1, 1917, New York City: Columbia University fires anti-war professors

    October 1, the Columbia University Board of Trustees ousts two professors, Professor James McKeen Cattell of the Department of Psychology and Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature Henry Wadsworth Longellow Dana, “upon charges that they had disseminated doctrines tending to encourage a spirit of disloyalty to the Government of the United States.” They are fired without severance or pension, and, in a bid to prevent them from finding work elsewhere, the dismissals are carried out with great publicity.

    The crime of Cattell, perhaps the leading academic psychologist in the US, consists of two letters he wrote to members of Congress and President Wilson in August 1916, reminding them they had not been elected to “send conscripts to Europe.” The transgression of Dana, the grandson of both Henry Wordsworth Longfellow and Richard Henry Dana (Two Years Before the Mast), is his membership in the pacifist People’s Council.

    This act by Columbia’s trustees will lead to the introduction of tenure protection for political speech at American universities and colleges.


  12. New York City, October 3 1917: Times supports firing of Columbia antiwar professors

    The New York Times, in its October 3 lead editorial, praises Columbia University’s decision, taken last week, to dismiss two antiwar professors. The Board of Trustees “have done their duty to the university and its good fame by expelling” the professors, the leading organ of American liberalism writes. The Times suggests similar firings be carried out across the US, condemning professors “who cover themselves with the threadbare cloak of ‘academic freedom’… for mischievous, unreasonable, and dangerous speech, a specious radicalism that tends to mislead the young.” The Times further accuses antiwar professors of engaging in speech that “disseminates treason.”

    Professor James McKeen Cattell’s “treason” consists of writing to President Wilson in August 1916, reminding him that he had not been elected to “send conscripts to Europe”—and indeed, Wilson won the popular vote on the basis of the infamously deceitful slogan, “He Kept Us Out of War.” Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana is fired for his membership in the pacifist People’s Council.

    Not everyone agrees with the editors of the Times. The eminent American historian, Charles Beard, though himself in favor of US involvement in the war, resigns on October 8 from Columbia to protest the firings, stating, “the University is really under the control of a small and active group of trustees who have no standing in the world of education, who are reactionary and visionless in politics, narrow and medieval in religion.”

    Simultaneously, the New York Times is leading the crusade to expel from the US Senate Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin, who stands accused by a police organization, the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety, of making “treasonous” antiwar statements in a recent speech in St. Paul. “Expulsion of this dangerous and disloyal member would be creditable to the Senate,” the Times editors write.


  13. On March 21, 1918, radical author Scott Nearing, a member of the US Socialist Party and an opponent of the imperialist war, was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York City under the notorious Espionage Act. He was charged with writing and distributing through the mail a series of articles titled, “The Great Madness,” in which he criticized US entry into World War I.

    Nearing, a former University of Pennsylvania professor, was accused of denouncing the Liberty Loan and the selective draft law, of defending a pacifist opponent of the war, Senator Robert La Follette, and of making “other utterances which the government alleges tend to create mutiny, disloyalty and insubordination among the armed forces of the United States.”

    If convicted, Nearing faced 20 years in federal penitentiary, a fine of $10,000 or both. The American Socialist Society, which distributed Nearing’s book, was also indicted.

    The first chapter of “The Great Madness” was titled “Give the Poor Trusts a Chance.” It began: “The entrance of the United States into the world war on April 6, 1917, was the greatest victory that the American plutocracy has won over the American democracy since the declaration of war with Spain in 1898. The American plutocracy urged the war, insisted upon it, and finally got it.”

    In another chapter, Nearing referred to the propaganda campaign waged by the press, aimed at whipping up pro-war sentiment:

    With the immense power of the public press at their disposal; possessing unlimited means; united on a common policy, the plutocracy spread terror over the land.

    The campaign was intense and dramatic. Japanese invasions, Mexican inroads, and a world conquest by Germany were featured in the daily press, in the magazines, on the movie screens and in public addresses. Depredations, murder and rapine were to be the lot of the American people unless they built battleships and organized armies.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.