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Ludlow massacre

Ludlow massacre, strike-related killings at Ludlow, Colo., on Apr. 20, 1914. Attempting to improve wages and working conditions and to stop numerous abuses, coal miners had been on strike at the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Corp. since Sept., 1913. Evicted from company housing and aided by the United Mine Workers union, which had called the strike, some 12,000 miners had set up tent colonies in the hills nearby the mines. The largest, which housed some 1,200 miners and their families, was near the railroad depot of Ludlow. On Apr. 20th shooting broke out between the Colorado National Guard, which had been called in in Oct. 1913 by the state's governor, and the heavily armed miners at Ludlow. The Guard was reinforced by mine guards, and gunfire continued throughout the day; more than a dozen people, including the local union leader, Louis Tikas, were killed. Guardsmen set the miners' tents ablaze, and two women and 11 children were killed as they hid in a pit beneath a burning tent. Soon called the Ludlow massacre by the UMW, the killings led to retaliation during the next week and a half by the miners, who burned, looted, and destroyed several mines. More than 75 were killed in what became known as the Colorado Coalfield War before federal troops restored order. One of the most brutal encounters in the history of American organized labor, the Ludlow Massacre turned public opinion against the mine owners.

See studies by G. S. McGovern and L. F. Guttridge (1972), Z. Papanikolas, S. Martelle, (2007), and T. G. Andrews (2008).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History


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