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The Butte Daily Bulletin
The emergence of the Butte Daily Bulletin can be linked to the turbulent events in Butte during the summer and autumn of 1917: the Speculator Mine fire killing 168 miners; the organizing activities of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) throughout the Pacific Northwest and the brutal murder of IWW organizer Frank Little in Butte; and the formation of the Montana Council of Defense, which was organized to rout out individuals guilty of sedition and espionage and which supported by the Anaconda Company as part of its “captive press” to silence labor unions and those opposed to participation in World War I. In December 1917, the Butte Daily Bulletin hit the streets as a reaction to these developments.
A group of progressive politicians, including Burton K. Wheeler (U.S. Attorney in Butte and future U.S. Senator from Montana) and James A. Murray (independent mine owner and uncle of James E. Murray, future U.S. Senator from Montana) joined forces with William F. Dunne, an electrical worker and union militant and R. Bruce Smith, president of the Butte Typographical Union, to publish the eight-page, seven-column weekly newspaper that grew out of the Strike Bulletin, published irregularly beginning in June 1917. The newspaper became a daily in August 1918. The motto of the Bulletin appeared in bold letters on the masthead:
During the 1918 election campaign, the Silver Bow County Council of Defense used newsprint shortages declared by the U.S. War Industries Board to challenge the Bulletin’s effort to become a daily newspaper, and on August 12 the Montana Council of Defense issued a ban on new dailies. The Bulletin’s editor, William F. Dunne, responded with an editorial attacking the Council of Defense for “their star-chambered sessions and putrid tactics” and wrote that the members “have grown lean and gray, or fat and bald in the service of big business.” The Bulletin defied the Council’s order and continued to publish. On September 13, at the behest of the Council, Major Omar Bradley and his soldiers raided the Bulletin’s office, and two days later Dunne and manager Smith were arrested on sedition charges. Though they were convicted in Helena District Court, the Montana Supreme Court overturned Dunne and Smith’s convictions in May 1920. Serving as the official organ of the Montana State Federation of Labor, the National Trades Council of Butte, the Silver Bow Trades and Labor Assembly, and the State Metal Trades Council, the Bulletin struggled on, like the Butte miners’ union, until May 31, 1921, when it ceased publication.
“We Preach the Class Struggle in the Interests of the Workers as a Class.” The Butte Daily Bulletin reported on local, regional, national, and international labor news (including the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), as well as covering sports and including classified ads. The newspaper threw its support behind the Non-Partisan ticket in Montana elections in 1918. The Bulletin condemned the high cost of living in Butte and local political corruption. Governor Sam Stewart once proclaimed: “I defy anyone to produce a more radical or revolutionary sheet in the United States…Why it is allowed to circulate through the mails is more than I can understand.”
Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT