September 10th, 1897 – The Lattimer Massacre

Today-In-History

On September 10th, 1897 at the Lattimer mine near Hazleton, Pennsylvania, 19 unarmed striking immigrant anthracite coal miners met violent deaths. In what became known as the Lattimer massacre the mostly of Polish, Slovak, Lithuanian and German ethnicity, were shot and killed by a Luzerne County sheriff’s posse, and many more workers were wounded. The massacre was a turning point in the history of the United Mine Workers (UMW).

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About 300 to 400 unarmed strikers—nearly all of them Slavs and Germans—marched to a coal mine owned by Calvin Pardee at the town of Lattimer to support a newly formed UMW union. Their goal was to support the newly formed UMW union at the still-open Lattimer mine. The demonstrators were confronted by law enforcement officials several times on the road and ordered to disperse, but kept marching.

The deputies had spent most of the morning joking about how many miners they would kill. While on a streetcar headed for Lattimer with the sheriff and his comrades, one deputy was overheard saying “I bet I drop six of them when I get over there.”

Lattimer massacre 680

When the demonstrators reached Lattimer at 3:45 PM, they were met again by the sheriff and 150 armed deputies. Sheriff Martin ordered the marchers to disperse, and then attempted to grab an American flag out of the hands of the lead marcher. A scuffle ensued, and the police opened fire on the unarmed crowd. Nineteen miners died, and anywhere from 17 to 49 others wounded. All had been shot in the back, and several had multiple gunshot wounds which indicated that they had been targeted by the deputies.


 

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