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Newspaper Page Text
WHAT IS ALL THE ROW IN WEST VIRGINIA?
HERE IS A CALM SUMMING UP OF EVIDENCE
By Mary Boyle O'Reilly.
Charleston, W. Va., June 23. The case of the United States govern
ment against the reign of King Coal in West Virginia has been carried to
The million words of evidence taken before the senate investigators
at Charleston prove one fundamental fact. A West Virginia capitalist's
ideal government is not republican freedom, but a so-called beneflcient
feudalism. Let us sum up the evidence as I heard it.
The United Mine Workers of America, 400,000 strong, contend that
Kanawha county coal barons hold their employes as serfs and deny them
the constitutional rights of free speech, free association and free assem-
The coal companies are consolidated in a giant combiner-
That policy is justified. Kanawha coal fields find their market in New
York, Chicago and Boston only through competing with mines in Ohio,
Pennsylvania and Illinois. They are handicapped by a longer haul, and
coal owners in neighboring states making it still harder by covertly en
couraging the West Virginia strike. Obvidusly the Paint Creek coal com
panies must consolidate to prosper. But, organized themselves, they de
nied their miners the right of organization.
Paint and Cabin creeks are lonely ravines in the West Virginia hills.
One railroad, whose interests are identified with the colleries, connects this
wilderness with so-called civilization.
For 2& miles the land is corporation
The vigorous population is all
American, bred to arms ,and fearless
During the strike of 1902 scores
of blacklisted strikers came to the
recently opened Creek mines. Four
years later a long shut-out on Cabin
Creek drove other scores of union
men across the intervening moun
tains. The tradition of Paint Creek is for
union labor. It is as natural for a
Paint Creek miner to agitate as for
an Irishman to fight.
Intelligent, independent and cour
ageous, they know their rights as
men 'and citizens.
Coal barons have consistently
plotted to undermine those rights.
So much has been proven by the
Consider these facts:
Miners must live in company
houses, there being none other to
lease, npr land to buy. Vegetable
operators deny space for garden be
cause it would "reduce the sale of
vegetables at the company store."
Peddlers are not allowed on cor
poration land. The company's store
is the only store its prices always
20 per cent in excess of independent
Blasting powder, dinner buckets
and track hachets are 100 per cent
higherthan outside the district.
Installment contracts are known
as leases and the mine owner stands
to lose his household property if he
moves away before the last dollar is
Between monthly pay days miners
borrow on their work, buying script
at the company office. A man need
ing five dollars draws script for ten
and sells it to an outside merchant
for six dollars to raise ready cash.
The merchant takes his chance of
having his purchase redeemed by the
company for seven dollars.
So the corporation and merchant
profit by the miner's loss. This sys-
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